IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

How to Win Customers and Influence Prospects

Using amped-up marketing—including public speaking and a media presence—Nashville Computer has grown both top- and bottom-line revenue. By Charles Henson

FEAR OF PUBLIC SPEAKING is something you can get over—and should.

It’s the linchpin of a multifaceted, ongoing marketing campaign that includes establishing your people as credible—and sought-after—authorities that will help you turn sales conversations into business conversations. Oh, and here’s the real secret: Prospects will be calling you.

At Nashville Computer, we’re focused on getting our brand and name in front of as many people as possible, and public speaking is a key component. That effort has helped us grow both our top- and bottom-line revenue.

While establishing yourself as a speaker or media source is a long process, it changes the conversation in your favor. Prospects may not need you at the time they hear you speak, but when they do have a need or get frustrated with their current MSP, they will call you. We’ve had prospects on our radar call us because they heard me speak at an event, and ask what it would take to be a client. Now we don’t have to “sell” them.

Moreover, they view me as an authoritative figure and are already familiar with our company. This gives us the upper hand over competitors.

Not all MSPs are comfortable with public speaking, of course, and often the biggest obstacle is fear of fumbling in front of a crowd. But there are steps you can take to both build your credibility and boost your confidence.

Toes in the Water

We started with prerecorded webinars. This is a good way to gain some confidence if you’re nervous about speaking, because you can edit out your mistakes. We evolved to weekly webinars, dubbed “Webinar Wednesday,” and announced them in our newsletter so there was no backing out. People started calling us, and we were making sales. Today we do these live.

Next, we hosted free seminars. You can practice speaking in front of people you already know—your clients. Build a PowerPoint on a topic like email vulnerability and hold a lunch and learn at their location. You’re not only adding value to your managed service offering, you’re building your confidence. Do this for a handful of clients, then take it to a larger audience.

We held our first seminar at a CPA conference center. The center’s staff saw the topic and asked if they could listen in. This was a perfect lead to get more speaking engagements, because we were subsequently asked to appear at some of their local conferences, and then later we were asked to present to their board of directors at their annual conference.

Also look for like-minded businesses to do joint presentations with, such as banks or accounting firms. For example, a bank asked us to speak to its clients on cybercrime, and now we’re proposing a full managed services offering to a customer that heard us there.

Get Mentioned in the Media

In addition to speaking, leverage social media and other channels and set a goal to get mentioned. For example, I try to get quoted in as many articles as I can, because it helps with the SEO of our website and further establishes me as an expert.

One tip is to register at Help A Reporter Out, a website that connects journalists with sources. You receive daily emails that you can scan for source requests in your area of expertise. You answer their queries via email and if your expertise matches the need, the reporter will either quote your email or reach out and interview you. That’s how I got mentioned on Wired.com, Dell.com, and Bank of America’s website.

The added benefit is the site links back to yours. This is the gold nugget. If your competitors aren’t being mentioned in articles, you’ll beat them at the SEO game.

I’ve also built out my LinkedIn profile. Now companies looking for speakers are reaching out to me and asking how much I charge. I tentatively floated the price of a thousand dollars the first time I was asked, and they booked me! The last few I’ve increased to $2,000. Finding the right price point is key—if they think you’re too cheap they won’t hire you, but if they think you’re too expensive they won’t hire you either. 

But whether you get on the speaking circuit or concentrate locally, do speak up! If you’re not out there educating clients and prospects your competitors will be.

ChannelPro SMB Magazine
SUBSCRIBE FREE!

Get an edge on the competition

With each issue packed full of powerful news, reviews, analysis and advice targeting IT channel professionals, ChannelPro-SMB will help you cultivate your SMB customers and run your business more profitably.