Thursday, May 31, 2018

I've Been Replaced by a Robot!

Oh no.

I've been replaced by a robot.

My latest SOP video has just been posted. Of course I welcome your feedback on the content (Is it worthwhile to do a lengthy monthly maintenance?).

But more importantly, I would like your feedback on my new robot. Right now he doesn't have a name. That seems to be a bone of contention.

Anyway . . .

I held a design contest and picked this guy because he has lots of joints. So, theoretically, we can make him walk, dance, climb stairs, or whatever we choose to do. I handed the Adobe Illustrator files over to my assistant Kara and said, "See what you can do with this."

I posted her first trial video on Facebook. It was very cool.

Then I started wondering what else we could do with him. I've calling him a him for no reason.

Here's the latest SOP Video:

(also see all my other videos on my YouTube channel)


I really want your feedback.

Does the robot "work" for videos like this?

Do you think it would be better for shorter content (60 seconds or less)?

Do you like it? Do you hate it? Is it just a distraction?

Does he need a name?

Creating a video like this takes a lot more time than just having me stand in front of my mural, of course. Kara hasn't told me the total time so far. But it's not zero, so it also costs money.

Please send me any thoughts you have.

- - - - -

How Kara Did This

This video was made with a program in the Adobe Creative Cloud suite called Character Animator CC.

It’s actually way cooler than it looks. When you bring it up, it uses the camera to identify your features. Then you associate actions (smile, frown, raise eyebrows, etc.) with graphic components. If you look left, it looks left. If you move your head, it moves it’s head.

The lip sync on this would be much better if I had recorded it with a camera in the program. But I just gave Kara an audio file and she did this.

The program comes with a sample character you can animate in order to learn the program. . . . Just playing around to see if it works for marketing. 

More info at https://www.adobe.com/products/character-animator.html

If you have the Adobe cloud suite, you already have the right to install this program.

. . . Just don't blame me if you waste a bunch of time on it.

:-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Free Webinar - My Favorite Marketing Techniques - June 6th

Heads UP! I'm doing a marketing webinar.

I get asked a lot about marketing and I don't have much to say. I did build one good-sized managed service business (my second was intended to be small but super-profitable). I grew KPEnterprises to twelve employees and about $960,000 in revenue.

So I have a few things I did with marketing that I would do again.

After mentioning this on a call some time ago, I said I'd put together a webinar on "Everything" I know about marketing. Enough people said they'd sign up . . . so I'm putting it together. Well here it is:

Topic: My Favorite Marketing Techniques
Jun 6, 2018
9:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)


Register in advance for this webinar:
https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_P27BHfhBR_W7rD4BNAuLyA

I'm going to present my three favorite marketing techniques. These techniques brought me almost every client I've signed to managed services for the last twenty-three years.

This webinar will be about 45 minutes. But I'm going to stick around and answer all your questions.


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

This webinar is free.

Join me live!

:-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

How Do You Know What Each Client Needs?

I got a great question from Chris M:

Just finished your book, it was a really good read. I’m new to owning my own MSP business, worked for another MSP for 7 years and knew I could offer so much more if I started on my own.
 One question I have for you is. How do you gauge what each customer really needs? When they call you, who are you actually talking to? An IT director that knows what they need, or just a regular non-technical business owner that is completely lost?
 What series of questions do you go through with them in order to gauge what they actually need
?

Thanks for the question, Chris!


I'm going to break this down into two parts:

1) How do you determine what each client needs?

2) Who are you actually talking to?

#1 also covers the question about what we ask and which questions we use.


Of course my answer only reflect my experience, but that experience includes 23 years of owning IT businesses and working with other managed service providers. With only minor exceptions, my managed service experience is with companies with 10-150 endpoints. 


How do you determine what each client needs?

My favorite way to determine what a client needs is to perform a network assessment. See my blog posts on the 68-point checklist. You'll need to update it and customize it to fit your business. Basically, this is a combination of questions you ask the client and investigation you do at the server.

Normally, clients call you in for a reason. Sometimes, you're doing outbound sales calls. But even then, the clients who say "Yes. Come talk to me." have a reason for saying yes. A great opening question is simply, Why am I here?

Computers are a bit like cars (or air conditioners, or plumbing): There are the problems the client knows about and the problems they don't know about. You get called in to address the problems they know about. It is your job to give them a bigger picture and look for the problems they don't know about.

A great car example is a scheduled oil change. As long as we're here, let's go ahead and do that 68-point inspection for free. Why? Because most of the time there's a legitimate need for other services. I recently bought new brakes when I went in for an oil change.

My old sales pitch essentially amounted to this: It's great to have me come in and do a 68-point checkup. But it's even better if we monitor everything on that checklist every month. The items on that checklist really represent the health of your network. Keeping it healthy will maximize your uptime and keep your business humming along.

And here's the beauty of managed service RMM tools: Once I stopped doing all those checks manually and have 67 of them done automatically every minute of every day, I make more money! I charge the same amount, but I pay $1.50 per month for monitoring instead of spending labor running those checks. And now that's my sales pitch.

Also see notes on my quarterly roadmap meetings with clients.

Bottom line: Between what the client tells us and what we find while poking around, we have a very good idea about the health of the network. Then we make a list of all the things they could do to fix it. If there are a lot, we divide it into Critical (e.g, replace firewall, backup not working), Important (e.g., replace old workstations, begin patch management), "Nice to have" (e.g., all copies of Office on the same version, new workgroup printer).

In general, you want to have conversations about these things, not just poke around and hand them a quote. Engage them in a discussion.

Which brings us to . . .


Who are you actually talking to?

This depends on the client. In a perfect world, you will never talk to someone unless they have spending authority. In small companies (25 and under, generally), that's the owner. In a few cases, the person in charge of bringing you in may have some spending authority. For example, they might be able to spend up to $1,000 without getting approval. But they can't sign ongoing service contracts.

So, the owner really needs to be involved with small companies. Everyone else can say whatever they want, but they can't sign a deal.

Which is not to say that you should ignore the person who may become your primary contact. You want that person to love you and recommend you to the owner. The primary contact may not be able to say yes, but she can easily say NO!

With larger companies, you will probably start with the person in charge of operations or even IT. They might even have larger spending authority, including the power to  sign contracts. How do you know?

Ask.

Crazy, I know. But just ask. You have no way of knowing what the internal politics looks like. So just be very honest that you need a decision maker in the room when you present your quote. This is easier than you think.

After you spend an hour or so running that 68-point checkup, you take lots of notes. And you make an appointment to come back and talk about it. And you tell them that you need the decision maker in the room when you come back for that meeting.

If you get to the presentation and that person is not there, you tell them you need to reschedule. For some people, this sounds very hard. But look at it realistically: If the decision maker isn't there, you have a room filled with people who can stop a deal, but no one who can say YES. So you really haven't lost anything if you walk away.

With very few exceptions, no one at the client's office will understand technology or the implications of your proposal well enough to translate your presentation to the owner/decision maker. Even if they love you, they do not have the ability to make this translation.

So you need to get the business owner in the room. And then you need to learn to talk without ANY computer jargon whatsoever. You can talk about generic things like "a backup strategy," but don't get into the details of BDR onsite vs. disc-to-disc-to-cloud. You have to work really hard on descriptions and analogies that make sense without getting mired in techno-babble.

Think about your experience at conferences. What are the worst vendor presentations? Menu option, menu option, feature, feature, feature. And the best? Well, they talk about how you're going to make money providing better to support to your clients.

Business owner to business owner, you need to figure out how to describe why your proposal really is their best solution. Some people will get it and some won't. But the more people you talk to, the better you'll get. And the more you listen and determine how owners respond, the deals you'll close.


Congratulations on your new business. Send me an email when you sign your first managed service contract.

:-)

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Best Time to Buy: ASAP

As with everything in business, pricing strategies evolve over time. Early on in my "content" business, I used to have big sales. Over time, I partnered with a few organizations to give standardized discounts.

But one philosophy has remained throughout: I give the biggest discount when I launch a product or service. A great example of this was the crowd-source funding for the big 4-book set of Standard Operating Procedures. The bundle price for this set is $300 (perpetually on sale at $279.95).

During the crowd funding campaign, I let people have the set for only $99. That's 67% off!

Monica (my friend and sometime marketing manager) said that I didn't need to give such a deep discount. As she put it, "All those people would pay full price. People helping you crowd fund this project are your biggest supporters."

Exactly! And here's what I said, "I want my friends and supporters to have the best price! Let strangers pay full price."

Last year, when I launched two new books, I gave the new versions away to anyone who had bought the previous version in the months before. I didn't want anyone to say, "Oh crap. I wish I'd waited."

Lesson: Don't wait.

Lesson: Don't worry that I'll take advantage of you.

Lesson: When I announce something new, buy it immediately. The price will only go up.

Feedback welcome.

:-)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Free Webinar - Learn the Cloud 5 Pack Offering - May 31st

Free Webinar - Learn the Cloud 5 Pack Offering - Thursday


Subject: How I Sold Millions of Dollars Worth of Cloud Services

(How I Built a 7-Figure MSP Using the Cloud 5 Pack Formula)

Thursday
May 31st
11 AM PST / 2 PM EST
Sign Up Now

I am very proud to be working with ChannelPro Network to offer a great webinar based on my Cloud 5-Pack Offering.

Last year, I traveled the world teaching IT Service providers how to create a 7-Figure Managed Service business using the Cloud 5-Pack formula.

Notes:

1. If you attended last year's Roadshow, then you have 95% of this information. No need to attend. (But please tell your friends about it.)

2. If you missed last year's Roadshow, PLEASE do yourself a favor and attend this webinar.

I will lay out a program that could literally become your business model for the next five years. And best of all, this program will pay for itself with the FIRST client you sign up!

You can sign up here: Register Here Today!


What You Will Learn In This Online Workshop

  • Cloud 5 Bundling: How to create a profitable bundle of cloud services that will give you a competitive advantage and deliver tremendous value to your customers.
  • Cloud 5 Pricing: How to price your offer to achieve a 73% or more margin.
  • Cloud 5 Delivery: How you can setup your business so that it can be supported by an administrative assistant, freeing you up to work on your business instead of in your business.
  • Cloud5 Marketing: How to get your ideal prospects to sign up to meet with you and close them quickly.

So Sign Up Today!

- - - - -

Hundreds of people attended my Cloud Roadshows last year. But millions missed out. Here's what one attendee says about the Cloud 5-Pack seminar:

Ken Shafer - Portland, OR

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

5-Week Course Starts Next Week: Build a Highly Successful Appointment Setting Machine

We are VERY Pleased to announce a new course at Great Little Seminar:
[5W-14] Build a Highly Successful Appointment Setting Machine - Taught by long-time MSP coach Josh Peterson of Bering McKinley. 
   
Build a Highly Successful Appointment Setting Machine

- Five Tuesdays - May 29th - June 26th 

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

- All classes recorded 

Register Now



For years we've labored with how to get in front of more prospects. We've gone through outsourced firms. We've hired friends and neighbors and even some strangers. It just doesn't seem to work. Until now.

Josh will show you how to:

1. Build the internal processes

2. Hire the right people

3. How to compensate your appointment setter

4. Onboard them (hint: this is the most important piece)

5. Measure, manage, and motivate

6. Handle appointments that don't meet your criteria
Delivered by Josh Peterson, IT Coach and Trainer.

Includes five weeks of webinar classes with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor.

This course is intended for business owners and managers. It is particularly useful for the Service Manager or Operations Manager.


Only $259


A Few Details . . .
  • Each course will be five one-hour webinars
  • There will be handouts and "homework" assignments
  • If you wish to receive feedback on your assignments, there will be instructor office hours
  • Class calls will be recorded and made available to paid attendees only.
  • All calls start at 9:00 AM Pacific Time
Questions? Email concierge@smallbizthoughts.com

:-)

Monday, May 21, 2018

If I Were to Start an MSP Again . . . Richard Tubb Hosts a 3-Part Webinar Series

My good friend, fellow coach, and podcasting co-conspirator Richard Tubb has announced a cool three-part webinar series entitled If I were to start an MSP again: The 3 Steps Successful MSPs implement in Operations.

This webinar series is in association with Kaseya and kicks off tomorrow!

Tuesday
May 22nd
1500 BST

Which is like 10 AM Eastern
or maybe 7 AM Pacific

Note: Once you register, you should get a calendar note with the correct local time for you.

- - - - -

From Richard's Announcement:

It’s a series of three webinars that I’m *really* excited about and I hope you can join me for!

An intriguing question I’ve been asked by a lot of IT Solution Provider and Managed Service Provider (MSP) owners in the past few months is “If you were to start an MSP again, what would you do about…” operations/sales/marketing/working with partners/everything else!

I love answering the question, and so when, Kaseya, a market leader in IT management software, asked me if I’d be interested in joining them for a series of practical, MSP-focused webinars, Kaseya agreed that it would be a great topic to cover!

The 3 Steps Successful MSPs implement in Operations
The first webinar in our series will focus on making your MSP service desk run more efficiently and smoothly, or as I like to say, “How to run your Service Desk while retaining your sanity!”

All three of the webinars will be very interactive presentations containing practical, real-world, applicable tips on how you can run a great MSP business in today’s business environment.

I’m delighted to be joined by Jim Lippie, General Manager of Cloud Computing at Kaseya. Jim has helped hundreds of MSPs worldwide increase their sales and profitability. He’s the perfect host for this webinar!

If you were to start an MSP again, what would you do about Operations?

Register for the Webinar here: http://info.kaseya.com/richard-tubb-msp-operations.html

This series of webinars are free to attend, and even if you can’t make the live events, you should register to be sent details of the on-demand recording.

- - - - -

Note: You can always follow Richard at http://www.tubblog.co.uk - and you should!

Enjoy!
:-)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Deep Work - Stay Focused!

I'm about halfway through Deep Work by Cal Newport. Really great book.

I love the whole concept of Deep Work versus shallow work. Too many people no longer manage to work deeply. Deep Work refers to totally immersed, focused attention.

Of course this fits perfectly with my personal mission to avoid distractions. Our society (and especially our technology) are 100% geared toward distractions. We fool ourselves into thinking we are more productive when we divide our attention more and more.

Most people actually feel nervous and anxious if you force them to turn off their phone, turn off Facebook, turn off email, and so forth. All of those things can give us a dopamine buzz, but that just feels good - it's not productive!

Ten years ago, the common advice was that you should not leave your laptop plugged in all the time because the battery would wear out sooner (This is less true with newer technology.). What happened when you never let the battery wear down is that it developed a "memory" that it only needed to charge a little bit. So when you finally did unplug the laptop, the batter wore out fast because it never got a deep charge.

Your attention span is the same way. Sometimes you need to sit in a distraction free environment in order to let your brain learn how to operate without the distractions. But those distractions are counter-productive. Quiet and solitude are much more productive.

Many people self-diagnose themselves as ADD or ADHD because they can't stand doing nothing, or doing only one thing at a time. They like the feeling of bouncing from one thing to another. In most cases, this simply amounts to the fact that they have lost the ability to sit quietly because they haven't practiced that skill.

I can't count how many people have told me that they can't meditate or they can't sit quietly in a chair for ten minutes.

Being calm and focused takes practice. You are always going to bad at all the things you don't practice. I've taken music lessons and singing lessons. And on a good day I can find middle C on a piano. Basically, I've never put in the practice it takes to learn these things.

And this is not about being quiet for quiet's sake. Absolute high-level focus makes you more productive. It just does. Yes, it takes practice, but the rewards are spectacular. When you look at the most productive people you know, you'll find that they are experienced at turning off distractions and focusing on one thing at a time.

Note: This will irritate many of your friends. Why didn't you text me back? Are you ignoring me? I want 100% of your attention instantly at any time of the day or night.

. . . Seems kind of unreasonable when you put it that way. But it's true. The rest of the world is more interested in interrupting you all the time than they are in your success. Only you can control this. You have to set the limits. And you have to start developing the habits of reducing distractions and indulging in super-productive, super-focused work.

Comments welcome.

:-)