Creating a service “beachhead” to turn cold prospects into hot customers

Anyone who has spent time trying to sell managed services knows that it is not a cheap proposition to a customer. Just waltzing into a prospect’s company and getting them to commit to a four or five figure per month contract can be a difficult pill for them to swallow — no matter the value they get in return.

While it is often true that there is a genuine need for your service and while it also may be possible that there is space in their budget to contract your MSP, it can be nearly impossible to get a company to put those two together and actually hire you.

MSPs who have experience in marketing and selling managed services will tell you that a prospect is not ready to buy until they’re ready, but when they ARE ready they will often quickly sign big dollar contracts with the first MSP that meets their requirements.

Unfortunately, being that MSP is difficult and expensive. It takes a lot of time and effort to show up in front of your prospect when they are willing to buy. Thankfully, that is where “beachhead” services come into play.

Wikipedia defines a beachhead as: “a temporary line created when a military unit reaches a landing beach by sea and begins to defend the area while other reinforcements help out until a unit large enough to begin advancing has arrived.”

Basically, the idea is to get your shoe in the door so that when a prospect reaches that magic moment when they are ready to sign the big dollar contract you are the first company that they look to for support.

There are three key factors to creating a beachhead service for your customers.

  • First, it needs to be a recurring service that is billed monthly or yearly so that they constantly see you as a vendor for their company (one-stop internal audits don’t count – but a recurring audit may).
  • Secondly, it needs to be a low enough cost that they can approve it without having to think too hard (this can vary by the size of your target customers. $20 / month may be a lot for some, and $2,000 may be a trifle for some larger clients).
  • And finally, it is ideal if it is difficult for your customer to switch away from you for this particular service.

It is very much true that people will do business with people that they trust. They can’t trust you if they don’t know you. Creating a beachhead service that you can sell ahead of your core offering will help you position your primary offer when the time is right.

It is a primary shift for your sales department to move from hunting and gathering (trying desperately to find leads that are already at a point where they can do business with you at the level you want) to farming (cultivating new leads and building the relationship with them over time until they are ready for your primary service.)

So what are some examples of a beachhead service?

Email hosting, management, encryption, archiving, and spam protection are all fantastic services to get your foot in the door for cheap. Everyone uses email and need it to work. You don’t have to go far to find companies that are looking for a more professional solution to their email hosting needs. In fact, many companies are struggling with their current email service provider and are looking for someone who can help them more reliably send and receive email. Using a service like our Intel security program will let you very inexpensively offer these kinds of services.

Another great example is website hosting. Website hosting has become almost a commodity in today’s market. If you are confident enough to run a Web server or license the company who has a server you can use then you can offer web development and/or hosting to get your foot in the door. You can even bundle it with the email hosting and protection and create a service that is very low-cost which almost every company needs.

A third example could be creating a technology audit program and maybe coupling it with a managed antivirus solution and/or a network device monitoring program. Simply meet with your client maybe once to three times per year and monitor some critical stats inside of their company with the promise that you are helping with their current IT staff (this could work well with an internal IT department. Just be careful you don’t step on any toes.) Check out our GMS gold program for an example of a possible audit you could run.

And finally, server management is always a fantastic way to get your foot in the door. Any customer that has a server need someone to watch and manage it. Chances are, you can do it better and for less money than they can. Offering a cheap server NOC service can get your foot in the door for selling a more comprehensive managed services program.

Of course, all of these are just examples and you can come up with other options that might work for the industries that you work in. The great thing about creating these types of services in your company is that they can be used to subsidize your advertising costs as well as get your foot in the door with new clients who could eventually become big money for your MSP.

Hit up the comments below and let me know if you’ve done something like this for your managed services provider. I would love to hear what you have created and how you are getting your foot in the door with future clients.