Ep 25 – Why MSPs Should Ask for Referrals

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LISTEN to the Mindwhirl Marketing Podcast Ep 25 – Why MSPs Should Ask for Referrals

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Podcast Transcript

Shelly Miller  00:08

Welcome to the Mindwhirl Marketing podcast. I’m your host, Mike and Shelly Miller, your source for B2B business building information where we talk sales and marketing and give you the insider secrets you need to know to grow your business. We want to help you attract leads and sales and show you how to align sales and marketing. So you get more sales faster with less cost.

Mike Miller  00:28

Alignment is the key

Shelly Miller  00:30

it is the key

Mike Miller  00:31

got to get sales and marketing working together. can’t just have generic marketing content and think that all of a sudden you’re going to get sales. Nope. You’ve got to focus on your ideal client profile. speak their language, use messages that resonate with them. inbound and outbound.

Shelly Miller  00:56

Yes, definitely. That’s the way to go.

Mike Miller  00:58

That’s right.

Shelly Miller  00:59

That’s how you have a system that works.

Mike Miller  01:01

Exactly. And part of the system, especially in the post sale phase. Is referrals.

Shelly Miller  01:09

Yes, it is.

Mike Miller  01:11

So today we want to Oh, it ended. Alright. today. I was enjoying it.

Shelly Miller  01:20

I was too.

Mike Miller  01:21

Yeah. So anyway. So today, we want to talk about referrals. And we want to like clear up some misconceptions. And I know there’s other euphemisms.

Shelly Miller  01:35

There is

Mike Miller  01:36

Yeah, you know, like we don’t need it. We don’t rattle sabers. No. Yeah, whatever it is, there’s other euphemisms. But we’re gonna just say that we’re going to clear up some things that we’ve heard lately about referrals, which are like so destructive to your business. So damaging, so wrong. Wrong, that we have to clear up these.

Shelly Miller  02:00

Yeah, this misinformation,

Mike Miller  02:02

because it’s crazy.

Mike Miller  02:03

It is. And if you buy into it, you’re out. Yeah, you might as well close your doors. Might as well close your doors. We’ve been doing this 21 years, and we’ve seen a lot of things. And the one thing we’ve never seen work is nothing. Just do nothing,

Shelly Miller  02:22

just do nothing.

Mike Miller  02:23

Just do nothing. You know, build it and they will come Yeah, remember that from the 1999?

Shelly Miller  02:29

Oh, the movie and the people build that website. And everyone will come. Yeah.

Mike Miller  02:33

And people are still using that people are

Shelly Miller  02:35

still using that tired phrase? And people are believing it?

Mike Miller  02:40


Shelly Miller  02:41

Don’t believe it. So don’t believe it?

Shelly Miller  02:42

Well, I know our audience doesn’t believe things like that.

Mike Miller  02:45

There’s just no way. Exactly. So and this, especially after this.

Shelly Miller  02:49

Yeah, about referrals and how you should get referrals.

Mike Miller  02:52

Exactly. So let me ask you, Shelly. Yes. If you do a good job, you know, like you really not. So this is specifically for msps. Right managed service providers. So we’re talking about cybersecurity professionals. So what you do is you ensure that your clients, businesses don’t get hacked? No, hackers don’t install ransomware on their systems, and you’re protecting them and all of their equipment, making sure that their network runs efficiently, and is safe. So you’re doing all that. And you’re doing a great job. So now, will your clients notice that and give you referrals? just out of the blue? Hey, you know what? I was thinking about Jim, and he’s doing such a great job for me. How can I help him? I know I’ll give him a referral. How many times is that happened in 21 years?

Shelly Miller  04:04

Ah, once or twice. I mean context.

Mike Miller  04:08


Shelly Miller  04:09

Honestly, they’re there. I’m a big advocate of context. So I have to say that

Mike Miller  04:15


Shelly Miller  04:15

first well, so without prompting. It just happened at the right time. So our a customer of ours, we got done with everything. It was perfect. And right at that time, it seemed seemingly, someone asked them hey, I need a website really bad. Who did you use? You know, yeah, I heard you got one done. And you’re complete. Who, who do you Who do you think we should get and they’ve given our name. So in that context, just out of the blue? Yeah. Once or twice, maybe three times? That way?

Mike Miller  04:48

Yeah. But so there’s a thing there that you’ve just said that is important to notice. For everyone else. Okay, so this happened like 19 years ago, right? So we got a lot of referrals 19 years ago, when no one knew web developer, right, or a marketing person, internet marketing was just, you know, being born.

Shelly Miller  05:13

Right. They didn’t know, they didn’t have any idea of what a website should be, or how it how it worked, or what platform it needed to be on. They just went, Hey, can youget me online?

Mike Miller  05:25

Right, exactly. Do that magic

Shelly Miller  05:28

do that magic.

Mike Miller  05:29

So at the beginning of our businesses history, we got a lot of referrals naturally. But we started asking for referrals, and we got more and more referrals. But even though our referral engine was constantly going, the number of referrals declined over time.

Shelly Miller  05:50

As the technology aged,

Mike Miller  05:52

and more and more competition came into the marketplace.

Shelly Miller  05:55

Yeah, good point.

Mike Miller  05:56

Yeah. So. So for all you B2B businesses, if you’re doing something that’s brand new, like AI or something,

Shelly Miller  06:04

then or voice or something,

Mike Miller  06:06

yeah, something new. Yeah, exactly, then, you know, you might be getting a lot of referrals naturally,

Shelly Miller  06:14

without asking them to give you a referral.

Mike Miller  06:17

Right. But if you are in a highly competitive space that’s aged, your level of referrals is going to be low. That’s why you need a referral program.

Shelly Miller  06:30

You do you have to have a process to get referrals.

Mike Miller  06:33

Yeah, you have to you have to ask for referrals. Despite the

Shelly Miller  06:37

fact that we have now heard this is probably what the fourth time

Mike Miller  06:40

Yeah, 4 times.

Shelly Miller  06:41

Don’t ask for referrals

Mike Miller  06:43

Yeah, in research for managed service professionals. You know, we we’ve heard, don’t ask for referrals. If you’re doing a great job, then your clients will recognize and they will get naturally give you referrals. And I don’t believe that for a second. I don’t because I don’t see a business owner would their life, right? They’ve got a business that they’re running. It’s it’s their baby, too, right. So just like your business is your baby, they have their baby, and they’re trying to take care of it and do everything they can. They’re working 60 hours a week, too. So when did they come up with the time to think about you and your problems?

Shelly Miller  07:26

Well, in context, only if at that exact time. They had a problem. Their friend had a problem. Yes. Yeah, they Yeah, somebody asked him right at that time. So otherwise, we’re all busy. We all have things going just as you said, they’re your they’re not going to just for no reason go hey, you know, I know this great MSP.

Mike Miller  07:52


Shelly Miller  07:54

I use them. So you should use them.

Mike Miller  07:57

Right? Now. If if you if that happens? They’ll say, here’s who I use.

Shelly Miller  08:02

Exactly. Exactly.

Mike Miller  08:04

And I might even make an introduction. And that would be fantastic. But the truth is, is that if you know, in business, and in life, if you don’t ask you don’t get

Shelly Miller  08:15

right. So So to be clear, we’re saying that you need to ask for referrals. And you need to and and the belief that if you do a good job, you shouldn’t have to ask is ridiculous. So that’s what we’re saying. Right? Because of what Michael just said, which is, if you want things out of life, you have to ask for them. And then there’s a process to do it. Because you obviously don’t want to ask, again, context, you don’t want to ask one of your clients you’ve never met, you know, like, if you’re the type of person or company that you let’s give him some examples for this. So if, if you got a client and you’ve never met them in person is all been by email, and you haven’t finished a project for them yet. Right? It would probably be very, it is very weird that you would go Hey, by the way, could you give me a referral? Well, you know, common sense here.

Mike Miller  09:11


Shelly Miller  09:11

Why would you do that exactly

Mike Miller  09:12


Shelly Miller  09:12

no one would do that

Mike Miller  09:13

but see, that will? So that brings up another question. Another issue, right. So like the best time to ask for referrals, if you have your, your conversion phase really nailed down. So when they are purchasing, that’s the best time to ask for a referral because they already they’re excited about what they’re going to get.

Shelly Miller  09:37


Mike Miller  09:38

So now they want to help other people, you know, take advantage of that.

Shelly Miller  09:41


Mike Miller  09:42

So if you have your conversion phase nailed, then you can add the process of asking for a referral at that time.

Shelly Miller  09:50

Right. And that’s again, why there’s a greater there’s a greater process of why you need to ask for referrals, but why you need a whole system. So you wouldn’t, there wouldn’t  Wouldn’t you just mentioned that you would do it after that buying? And they’re excited about it?

Mike Miller  10:04


Shelly Miller  10:04

Exactly. Because you’ve gone through the whole system. And you’ve gone through these steps with your customer. So you know, this is the best time to ask for a referral. You’re not never met them don’t know anything about them. They just ended up signing on email, and then you went, Hey, can I have a referral? No.

Mike Miller  10:23


Shelly Miller  10:23

So when you have a system, you know, this is Oh, this is the time where I asked for the referral.

Mike Miller  10:27


Shelly Miller  10:28

And you also know, oh, I just asked them two weeks ago, not gonna ask them again, because you have a system.

Mike Miller  10:34

Exactly. And then after they purchase, and let me add that. Another thing is in that system, after they purchase, right, in the post sale process, there’s an advocacy phase,

Shelly Miller  10:49


Mike Miller  10:50

And that advocacy phases, referrals, case studies, and testimonials. So you should have those campaigns in your business that run every year, at a minimum should so you can think of it every four months, you’d run a different one. That’s the most simple way to do it. Right? So referral, verse, Then case study, then testimonial, or whichever pattern, you want it to be whichever sequence you want it to be in,

Shelly Miller  11:23

well, sometimes the sequence changes just because of the data that we have, depending on how you your system works to get a new client. So those changed, but we have numbers that show that the process that you should use and how you ask for referrals and how they work better during certain situations certain times,

Mike Miller  11:43

right? But like, let’s say you do a newsletter every month, you’re not going to ask for referrals. It’s It should be noted, I mean, there shouldn’t be a thing and an ad, hey, you know, please refer us or we’ll even cut you in on some you know, we’ll give you tickets to a movie before COVID. You know what I’m saying? You want it to be everywhere. You don’t just want it. But at a minimum, you want it to be at least once a year. But here’s going back to what Shelly was saying, here’s the thing. Like why, to me, you have to ask why would I be afraid to ask my client? For referral? Why would I feel like I was putting our relationship at risk?

Shelly Miller  12:32

Yeah, at Jeopardy, because I’ve asked

Mike Miller  12:34

Yeah, why, you know, they don’t want to be sold to,

Shelly Miller  12:38

or they haven’t given me one. So I haven’t done a good job.

Mike Miller  12:41

And that’s a hallucination

Shelly Miller  12:44

it is

Mike Miller  12:44

you know, they haven’t given me a referral. So I must not be doing enough, or I must not be doing a good job. Well see, like marketing helps fix those issues. Like you could actually with great marketing, you could actually be doing a horrible job, and still have them love you. But, you know, really what we’re, what I’m trying to say is you want to build a relationship with your with your client, and you want to be there for them. And, and the reason you want to be there for them, especially as a Managed Service Professional or a Managed Security Service Professional or Provider, you want to be there for them. Because other than the report, everything works. If you’re doing a good job, they don’t have a problem. They never see you. You’ve got to make them see you. And you’ve got to bring good news every time you come. So if you’ve got a relationship with them, right, so you’re seeing them once a week, bi weekly, or at least once a month, you’re talking to them on the phone doing a zoom call. If you can’t visit them directly. You know, you might be able to drop doughnuts off, though.

Shelly Miller  14:00

You could have deliveries.

Mike Miller  14:02

Yeah, you could do Uber Eats.

Shelly Miller  14:05

So we’ve done that a couple times. It’s also you know, you continually build the relationship, no matter what the situation is. So yeah, COVID weather, you know, I mean, there’s been all kinds of things throughout time that can seemingly hurt a relationship because you can’t, you don’t can’t necessarily see them in person, but you can. So the possibilities for rapport building are endless. They don’t need to they’re not. There’s no problem because of some pandemic. You can still get around that and you should,

Mike Miller  14:39

right. Absolutely. And you should always be building a relationship, because then it’s not our IT guys calling in he was he won. It’s Hey, Jim. How’s it going? Yeah, how are you bad? How’s the kids?

Shelly Miller  14:57

Yeah, I should always feel that way.

Mike Miller  14:59

Yeah. So here’s what we’ve done for you this month. We’ve done this, this, this, this and this. And, you know, have you had any challenges? Any problems? Let us know if you do. Yeah, instantly. We’re always here for you. Okay, excellent. So we’ll talk next week or week after, right. Excellent. All right, man, you take care. Oh, hey, I was thinking about you. And you mentioned this one thing. I just read a book on it, I’m going to send it to you. See, it’s not really hard to build a relationship. And do you think since your friends now that, if you ask them for a referral, they wouldn’t at least try to think of someone?

Shelly Miller  15:43

Well, I, you know, another point about that is, is that it empowers people. I know, a lot of people that we’ve met over the years, they, you know, they truly want to help other people, and especially people who’ve helped them. So they want to go out of their way, like, what can I we’ve had people say to us, what can I do? What Who are you looking for? What can I say to get you new customers? Because you guys are great? Well, you know, when you’re at you know, it’s not just your when your customers, your clients aren’t just your customers or clients, they’re your partners. That’s the kind of relationship that you have. And it’s never a weird or odd or, you know, problem to say I you know, I’m looking for somebody who’s just like you, you guys are a great client, you know, a great partner, and we want more partners like you that

Mike Miller  16:36


Shelly Miller  16:37

can prompt them and usually does to get, you know, give their friends your name. Just the relationship with them helps with that. I mean, it’s just, I don’t know, I get really annoyed if you were like, Oh, I can’t ask my customers for referrals. That’s the wrong thing to do. Yeah. I mean, your doctor’s office has a card out front that says, refer your family and friends. Exactly. I mean, does that mean that you have your doctor hasn’t done a good job for you? Of course not. He’s gonna keep asking you. What about you know, think about also, this is more local, but, you know, you go you go somewhere, you have a great experience eating, let’s say, but you doesn’t, you know, you leave the restaurant. Hey, that was good. We’ll go there again, you don’t automatically go, Hey, you know, I need to get on Google and give them a review. Even though you know, it would help them. You’d just not you don’t have a tendency? Yeah. So they ask you, hey, there’s a link at the bottom. would you rate us and we would really appreciate that. Or if we’ve gotten a digital pad at a restaurant. Can you do it right here?

Mike Miller  17:41

Yeah. Well,

Shelly Miller  17:43

does that ruin the meal in the restaurant for me that I loved? No, I just go Oh, okay. Great. I’ll do it right now.

Mike Miller  17:49

Can’t do that anymore, though. But but exactly. It didn’t ruin it.

Shelly Miller  17:54

Why can’t you do that anymore? You can still do it at Chili’s.

Mike Miller  17:56

Because now Google tracks the IP addresses. And so if every review comes from the

Shelly Miller  18:01

sure, sure. Yeah.

Mike Miller  18:04

But anyway, but it’s but the thing is that the important point is that it doesn’t ruin the experience. And I just feel like like you just said, so your clients should be your partners, they should be your friends, you should care for them. That’s the whole, you know, definition of clients, why aren’t they a customer? Because, you know, it’s not transactional. You don’t want them to buy and go away. You want them to continue to purchase and feel like you’re watching out for them. You’re a partner with them. So if you’re a partner, and you truly are a partner, not just a vendor, then you would say, hey, Jim, Jim’s getting a lot of action today. Hey, Jim. I’m just like you, I’m wanting to grow my business. And I’m looking for three more clients who are just like you who who are excellent who have, you know, who understand the need and the value that we offer? And I was wondering if you knew any anyone? I mean, that’s it.

Shelly Miller  19:16


Mike Miller  19:16

right. There.

Shelly Miller  19:18

It is.

Mike Miller  19:18

That’s the whole. That’s the whole enchilada. And it makes me think if you’re not willing to say that, if that worries you, then it kind of it kind of points to issues about asking for money. Like if you can’t ask for a referral, how are you going to ask for money? If they give you something, some new work that’s out of scope? How are you going to go well, okay, Hey, no love to do it. Now, this is out of scope. And, you know, it’s going to be an additional $600 how’s that sound? You’re not gonna you’re gonna have issues with that. What’s going to happen is you’re going to do it begrudgingly. And then at one point in time, you’re going to explode on them. And you’re going to Lose the client. So let’s see, we’ve been doing this 21 years. I know I’ve seen this before. So basically, if you don’t get if you don’t ask you don’t get

Shelly Miller  20:13

 it’s the truth

Mike Miller  20:13

 in business in life, if you don’t ask you don’t get.

Shelly Miller  20:16

So ask for referrals and have a process to do it.

Mike Miller  20:19

Exactly. Please ask for referrals, don’t buy into the dream, you know, you don’t have to ask for referrals, you don’t have to cold call, all you have to do is have a webinar. And you’ll make millions of dollars. That’s a pipe dream. So we suggest that you learn how to do marketing, right, align it with sales, and and maximize the results that each one of them give you, then that way you can leverage your client acquisition engine, so that your business grows exponentially. And you can, like, remember, the goal of the MSPs is to sell their business. So the way to do that is to, to get it over a million a year, you know, have a big client base, so that you’ll be attractive to those who want to acquire clients without doing the hard work. And then you’ll get to laugh because you’ll you’ll be the one who knew how to how to get the clients. And they’re trying to acquire them by buying them. Anyway, we’ll get off into that another day. But

Shelly Miller  21:30

we just wanted you to know that you should ask for referrals. Yes, we wanted to make sure that if you have a process and a system referrals and asking for them is the best way to get new business from clients who are new clients who are just like the great clients you already have. Exactly.

Mike Miller  21:47

So yep, that’s us the Mythbusters Hey,

Shelly Miller  21:50

there you go. All right.

Mike Miller  21:52

Well, hey guys. Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you next Thursday.

Shelly Miller  21:58

Thanks again for listening to the mind bro Marketing Podcast. Make sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google podcast Stitcher, and wherever podcasts are sold. Plus, check us out on YouTube. Grab some marketing tips and insight and subscribe to our channel while you’re there.

Shelly Miller

Shelly Miller

Entrepreneur, marketer and social psychologist - I help you make the most of your business with marketing, online and offline.

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