There you are, enjoying a beverage on a patio on a Sunday afternoon with your favorite people when bam!
It hits you like a ton of bricks: the dread and anxiety of returning to work tomorrow—the Sunday Scaries, as it’s called.
In the MSP space, the Scaries come from the exhausting grind of reacting to the unpredictable challenges of the day. A business can be built entirely on reactive revenue, which is “money earned by responding to requests.”
- Your customer’s software expires, and you rush to upgrade it.
- A new competitor swoops in to woo your highest-value managed services customer, so you volley back with a discounted agreement.
- Finally, a proposal is accepted, but now there’s the runaround to get the contract signed so you can start the work.
You start the day ready to fight for the next. It’s like playing tennis with a ball of fire.
There’s a better way. We call it proactive revenue.
Proactive revenue is money earned through anticipatory, customer-focused channels. It values automation, optimizing the quote-to-cash process, and reducing human error: fewer surprises, fewer Sunday Scaries.
If you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios, you’re ready for an upgrade to a proactive revenue mindset and the tools that come with it.
Here are five signs you’re in a reactive revenue slump and how to recover fast.
1. Grumpy customers seem to appear out of nowhere.
Suddenly, you’ve got an unhappy customer on the phone complaining about your services. It’s surprising because this is a customer whom you rarely hear from. In fact, before the conversation you are having now, you thought the relationship was largely positive.
This anger is a surprise.
Or is it a sign of neglect?
Unhappy customers don’t wake up in the morning plotting to make your life miserable. Instead, resentments grow. Lack of engagement is mistaken for being ignored. Your company becomes increasingly faceless until something minor sets off the alarm bell one day. No matter what happened on the customer’s side to drive them to pick up that phone, you are powerless.
The proactive revenue fix for grumpy customers
First, let’s focus on the unhappy customer at hand.
- Use the opportunity to “mine the complaint for valuable information,” as marketer Josh Brown says. When you address the customer from a place of interest in improving instead of defensiveness, you operate in a proactive revenue mindset.
- Make it clear to the customer that you will take their feedback seriously. Schedule a follow-up internally and with the customer to stay accountable to progress in whichever area the customer identified as the problem.
- Showing a commitment to improvement is a way to exceed the customer’s expectations, making your customer “motivated and excited to share their story,” about how your business turned things around for them, says Brown.
- Bottom line: increase communication with the unhappy customer. Follow up on their complaint and share where you’re making changes. Value the criticism as input to improving your business.
Want to reduce surprise calls from unhappy customers? It goes hand-in-hand with our next point about customers who only come to you when they need service or hardware upgrades. Read on.
2. Existing customers come to you when they need upgrades
On the surface, this is not a problem. You have intelligent customers who know when they need new hardware or software. They come to you, and you build a quote based on their requests. They’re keeping you in business. This is fine.
This is fine if you want to stay in a reactive revenue mindset, where you’re waiting for the work to appear with no predictability of revenue month over month. But from where we’re sitting, you’re leaving money on the table.
We have some ideas for you if you want to set sales targets, boost relationships with your existing customers, and supercharge your revenue.
The proactive revenue fix for existing customers
Trying to win new customers can take time and effort. So why not take a look at whom you’re serving now?
As Harvard Business Review contributor Rick Reynolds says, “Strengthening your relationship with your existing customer is one of the best ways to increase sales.”
- Empower your frontline team to make sales. They’re the folks responding to tickets and taking support calls. Give them online quoting software access, and incentivize them to anticipate existing customers’ needs by tracking quote wins. With Quoter’s unlimited user pricing, involving more people on your team in the sales process is easy. Manager approval controls give you peace of mind for the accuracy of quotes sent.
- Assume authority. As bright as your customers may be, they’re not the experts. Make it your responsibility to inform them of necessary upgrades. Quote templates ease the workload of staying on top of their evolving needs.
- Be timely. Know when to reach out by optimizing your quote-to-cash cycle with CRM and PSA integrations. Nothing delights a customer more than knowing you’re thinking of them, just in time for your help to improve their operations.
3. You’re a firefighter (a break/fix firefighter)
MSPs that cater to customers who only call when there is an emergency are the digital equivalent of firefighters. You can’t predict when or where a fire will occur or how damaging it will be. You are just reacting when the flames appear, 24/7.
Some people thrive in this kind of high-stress environment. But if you’re getting those Sunday Scaries, those people probably aren’t you.
You could read a whole book on how to get out of the break/fix customer cycle. For our part, here’s how to apply proactive revenue thinking to the problem.
The proactive revenue fix for firefighting
It’s time to show your break/fix customers what they’re missing. If you’re onboarding new sales staff, this is the perfect task to warm them up with:
Contact your break/fix customers and engage them with a proposal outlining a monthly service plan offering. With a comprehensive quote, your customers have everything they need to visualize potential annual savings and plan a budget for monthly services.
This exercise is proactive because you engage the customer without an emergency prompt (2 AM system crashes, anyone?)
Online quoting software makes it easy to quickly share information that could convert a break/fix customer to a managed services customer. Here, quoting becomes a tool, not a hurdle, to improving your bottom line.
Here are five steps to engaging your break/fix customers:
- Identify your break/fix customers. Organize them into groups based on service needs.
- Build quote templates based on your identified groups. These can be simple, configurable quotes that give the customer control of options such as size, model, plan, or any other relevant variable.
- With your templates prepared, you can quickly drop customer details directly from your CRM and hit send.
- Be sure to schedule automated follow-ups and track open rates!
- Track the quotes in weekly sales meetings to assess progress and refine the plan for bringing break/fix folks to the managed services side.
You might only win some of them, but engaging customers with beautiful, comprehensive sales quotes is so efficient with online quoting software that it’s worth the try.
4. The competition keeps you up at night.
If you toss and turn in bed wondering how you will play technical catch-up to a new competitor in town, you’re not alone. In a 2022 Datto survey of over 1800 MSPs, the competition was cited as the most significant challenge (for the second year in a row).
Here’s the thing: we can’t control what the competition does, where they appear in search engine results, or when they talk with our best customers.
Focusing on the competition keeps you in a reactive mindset.
Here’s what you should do instead:
The proactive revenue fix for handling the competition
Forrester Principal Analyst & VP Barry Vasudevan’s competitive strategy actions for B2B marketers are a straight shot to a proactive revenue mindset.
First, Vasudevan suggests you take a realistic look at what your company is actually good at.
“It may seem strange,” he says, “but I often see companies trying to go in a direction that doesn’t align with their core competencies.”
Focusing on what you do best is more productive for generating new revenue than attempting to keep up with everything your emerging competitors are doing.
Second, play to your strengths. Build a strategy based on what you do best. You can still keep an eye on the competition – Vasudevan emphasizes the importance of understanding the shape and profile of your competitors, but only in service of helping you differentiate from them. This is where you can genuinely put the sentiment of ‘standing out from the competition’ into play.
Instead of reacting to each new move your competitors make, use what you know about them to hone your differentiation and laser-focus your efforts on improving based on where you already shine.
5. You send contracts and deposit invoices after the proposal is accepted
Here’s a dance you probably aren’t going to boogie down to at your cousin’s wedding: the obtaining-the-signed-contract-and-deposit-invoice dance.
It goes like this:
- The customer replies to the email you sent the proposal in to accept. Hoorah!
- You reply enthusiastically and attach a contract .pdf file for the customer to download, print, sign, and scan.
- You wait for a response.
- You wait a few days longer before following up on the email.
- In the meantime, you might as well collect billing information to invoice the deposit. This email also goes unanswered.
- Finally, you get on the phone with the customer. They don’t have a printer at home, where they usually work. Could you come by the next time they’re in the office to pick up the signed version?
- You do that, and while you’re at the customer’s office, you ask about the invoice email. It turns out that you sent it to the wrong contact.
- When you return to your desk, you resend it and hope for the best.
Each step in this dance keeps you tied down to a reactive process that means more work and less predictability. The administrative congestion of printing, signing, scanning, and sending back is inconvenient for the customer and can set a negative tone for the relationship.
At this point in the sales cycle, the heavy lifting should be over for you and especially for your customer.
Fortunately, there’s a quick fix for this.
The proactive revenue fix for securing signed contracts and invoices
Convenience is critical to shortening the sales cycle. In an optimized quote-to-cash process, automation allows information to flow seamlessly whenever and wherever the customer is. It’s all about making it easy for the customer to complete the task.
When you’re proactive, you’re prepared. And nothing says ‘prepared’ like having everything the customer needs to accept, sign, and pay for your services all at once, all online.
With Quoter, you can send quotes with links to electronically-signable contracts and online payment processing for invoices. No printers are required. Talk about convenience for your customer and you.
Adopt a proactive revenue mindset and enjoy your weekends
When you swap reactive for proactive revenue, you gain the freedom to make the most of your Sunday afternoon.
Request a demo with Quoter to get started!