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Enhance Your Sales, Marketing or Cybersecurity Skills: Get 1:1 Time with an Industry Genius


When it comes to analyzing your team’s sales compensation plans, or figuring out where your latest marketing campaign went awry, or what new security tools could help you protect your clients, wouldn’t it be great to ask a genius? CompTIA corporate members will get that chance leading into ChannelCon, August 3-4.

Expanding on the success of Genius Café sessions at other recent events, CompTIA has recruited a cadre of experts in five fields— sales, marketing, operations, cybersecurity and AI—to answer questions and give one-on-one advice in 25-minute sessions. The meetings have proven quite popular, so interested corporate members should schedule a session soon because space is limited.

Earlier this year, CompTIA piloted the platform for some US members, several of whom extolled the value they got from the meetings. “The Genius Café is another great perk for being a CompTIA Member. To spend 25-30 minutes with a top expert to get your tough questions answered is priceless,” said Corey Kirkendoll, president and CEO of 5K Technical Services.

For anyone scheduling a Genius Café session, Kirkendoll advised members to come prepared with several prioritized questions in order to maximize their time. “Just remember you get out what you put in. Have a plan and I assure you that you will not be disappointed. I got great advice, and some I implemented right after the call. It was that easy to do and relevant to help us succeed in a real-life marketing issue we were facing.”

Learn from Experienced Experts

The advice-driven concept of the Genius Café is much needed within the MSP community, whose leaders tend to have technical backgrounds—not sales and marketing, said Chris Wiser, founder and CEO 7 Figure MSP, which advises managed service providers. Wiser, who has served as a “marketing genius” for CompTIA, said the best advice he ever received was to focus on sales and marketing processes, not just the technology.

“I’m trying to help MSPs or IT service providers make sure their processes are in order and that they’re charging a proper amount. You could be given a perfect lead and still sell it improperly, which only accentuates issues with cash flow, scale, productivity,” Wiser said.

Jhovanny Rodriguez, vice president and co-founder of GreenLink Networks, Addison, Tex., and founder of Synetek Solutions, has ample experience as an MSP and selling to MSPs. As a prior sales genius at a CompTIA event, he helped MSPs avoid simple mistakes that could improve their business.

Among the common mistakes he often sees are MSPs “winging it,” i.e., selling without any formalized strategy or process. “Whether you’re generating sales through lead generation or referrals or word of mouth, there needs to be a defined system of what to do—and not to do—when you get a lead,” Rodriguez said.

Another tip: take a personal approach on follow-ups with customers. “I see a lot of MSPs who have a great customer meeting, then go back to the office and email a proposal and never hear back,” Rodriguez said. “A customer many interpret an email pitch differently than you intended. Email proposals focus more on the number, not on the value you are providing.”

On the marketing side, Brendan Turner, president and CEO of Turner Techtronics, lauded his experience with a marketing genius for helping him strategize how to target into new industries.

“My organization struggles with breaking into and marketing to new market verticals such as healthcare and finance. [The genius I talked to] was very knowledgeable and provided great insight and vertical specific ideas for our website and marketing program which I will share and implement with our sales team,” Turner said.

Come for the Advice, Stay for the Member Networking

Other common questions and themes from previous Genius Café sessions include: Is LinkedIn a worthy tool for MSPs, and should MSP leaders do their own marketing? The consensus: it depends on your customer base—larger customers tend to use LinkedIn while small, local businesses focus more on Facebook; and unless you have a strong marketing background, it’s probably better to bring in an expert to help with messaging.

Overall, the geniuses said they're looking forward to imparting some of the best advice they've ever received: be quiet and listen to the customer.

It’s critically important to ask your customer questions to not only understand what your mission is, but why, said Michelle Ragusa-McBain, vice president of global channel strategy at JS Group and a previous Genius Café leader.

“So many people throw spaghetti against the wall hoping it will stick, without truly understanding their target audience or their pain points of their clients,” she said. “We have lived through social distancing, quarantine, lock down and masks, it is important—now more than ever—to leverage video to connect with and speak to your clients. Create a memorable and consistent message of communication. They will listen to your messages and follow the breadcrumbs back to you.”

Genius Café sessions are a great way to get answers to pressing business questions, but also a chance to meet new connections, not unlike the other content sessions and meetings, Rodriguez said.

“These events generally have vendors trying to collaborate with MSPs in a non-salesy way. That is a great place to create relationships,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing more collaboration between communities too. That’s something I’m excited about.”

During ChannelCon, the Genius Café will be open between 9:30-11 am and 12-1:30 pm CDT on August 4.

For more information on the Genius Café, contact [email protected].

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About the Author

With more than 2,000 members, 3,000 academic and training partners and tens of thousands of registered users spanning the entire information communications and technology (ICT) industry, CompTIA has become a leading voice for the technology ecosystem.

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