You’ll Never Get In Trouble For Taking Care Of The Customer

Welcome to the Rialto Marketing podcast. Today's episode is a revenue acceleration series interview where we talk to seven figure B2B professional service firm owners that are actively trying to grow their business and get to the next level. We talk about the good, the bad and the ugly so that you can learn from their experience.


Join Tim Fitzpatrick and Bill Ramsey for this week’s episode of The Rialto Marketing Podcast!

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You’ll Never Get In Trouble For Taking Care Of The Customer

Tim Fitzpatrick
Welcome to the Rialto Marketing podcast. Today's episode is a revenue acceleration series interview where we talk to seven figure B2B professional service firm owners that are actively trying to grow their business and get to the next level. We talk about the good, bad and ugly so you can learn from their experience. Hi, I am Tim Fitzpatrick with Rialto Marketing, where we believe you must remove your revenue roadblocks to accelerate growth and marketing shouldn't be difficult. Thank you so much for taking the time to tune in. I am really excited to have Bill Ramsey from Soteria Technology Solutions with me today. Bill, welcome and thanks so much for being here.

Bill Ramsey
Hey, thank you.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I'm excited to dig into this. Soteria is your third foray into the Managed Service Provider IT space. You have plenty of experience to share, which we're all going to learn from. Before we jump into that, I want to ask you a few rapid fire questions if you're ready to jump in with both feet here.

Bill Ramsey
Let's do it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Okay. Very quickly, what do you do and how long have you been doing it?

Bill Ramsey
I like to tell people we're a customer service company that specializes in technology solutions. I've been doing this now since 2000 or so.

Tim Fitzpatrick
When did you start Soteria?

Bill Ramsey
We started Sotiria in April of 2019, so we just crossed our four year mark.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Love it. What's the most important lesson you've learned? Third business? What's the first thing that comes to mind? I know there's a lot we learn, but.

Bill Ramsey
I think when we started this thing, what I learned most was what not to do. I really think that's the most important thing. Having built two of these, I learned what to do, but more importantly, I learned what not to do.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Well, and if you can avoid the things that you shouldn't do, hopes you get where you want to go faster, right?

Bill Ramsey
Yeah, you would think so.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Well, and I know since 2000, we all know growing a business is hard at times. Is there any mantra, motivational saying that you say to yourself, share with your team to push through those times where you've got to get through challenges or roadblocks?

Bill Ramsey
There is. We went over it today, actually. My favorite saying is doing the right thing isn't always easy, but it is always right.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Doing the right thing isn't always easy, but it's always right. Man, I love that. That's a great one.

Bill Ramsey
I have really tried to hammer that home here. One of our core values is do the right thing always.

Tim Fitzpatrick
It's never going to fail you. It's always going to serve you long term. I think so many of us think short term. Sometimes doing the right thing is painful in the short term, but it's never going to fail you long term. Man, that's a fantastic mantra.

Issues and Gaps that Arise in Aquiring Businesses

Tim Fitzpatrick

I touched on this a little bit. This is your third time around starting a managed service provider. First two you sold. Soteria has grown to about 17 people in four years, primarily through acquisitions. There's a ton of acquisition merger and acquisition activity in the MSP space right now. What are the top challenges that you faced growing through acquisition?

Bill Ramsey
I think really one of the biggest parts was the culture, mixing the cultures between the acquired entities and with us. That's been a very difficult one. Then getting that through to any acquired partners that we've pulled in, the customers, letting them understand who we are and getting them on board. We did so many so rapidly. We're just now catching up, in my opinion. We're getting to a point where we have a little bit of a breather here. It's been a very challenging situation, but the culture has been probably one of the bigger ones.

Tim Fitzpatrick
It would seem to me that when you're growing through acquisitions, the acquisition or acquisitions exacerbate any issues or gaps that you have in the company. Am I right there?

Bill Ramsey
Boy, do they. Absolutely they do. They bring them into a glaring light.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. So if you weren't aware of them before the acquisition, you become painfully aware of them after the acquisition. Not a lot of people grow through acquisition. Frankly, I don't think it's something that a lot of people think about until they reach a certain level and then they start growing through acquisition. What I'm seeing in the MSP space is, man, there's people growing through acquisition at all phases of their business, which is really, really interesting. It's not like you just started an MSP and decided to grow through acquisition. It's not like you hadn't done this before. But it's still you're biting off a lot when you grow through acquisition.

Bill Ramsey
Yeah. I mean, it's a heavy workload. Our staff has been pretty well trained in at this point. They know the challenges that we face. It's ongoing revision of documentation and processes always. We do now have a target profile of what we want so that we can make the transition easier. We've made some mistakes there. Our transition is harder than they needed to be by maybe acquiring the wrong type of company, or they were using significantly different software than we were, things like that. It's put a big workload on them. They were happy to hear that we've taken a little pause while we recollect here and fix a few things, and then we'll move forward and do it again.

Tim Fitzpatrick
It would seem to me that even no matter how dialed in your systems are, there are still things that you can learn and continue to improve from the companies that you acquire. Just different set of eyes. It's like, man, they've been doing it this way. That's a really interesting way of doing it. Have you found that through any of your acquisitions at this point?

Bill Ramsey
Absolutely. We are in a constant state of learning and a constant state of rebuilding always. Anything that any of these acquisitions can bring to the table that make us a better partner for our customers, that's exactly what we're looking for. We do examine those things and we look at what they've got in place and why it would be important maybe to keep that around or maybe change what something we're doing on our end to what they're doing on their end. But we examine those every single time.

Taking Care of Your Customers

Tim Fitzpatrick
One of the things that you mentioned when we spoke before was you have had a 100 % CSAT, for those that don't know it, it's customer satisfaction score for months. What's your secret, man?

Bill Ramsey
Our secret is a great team. They care. They care. Like I said, we're a customer service company that specializes in technology solutions. And that's a mindset that we try to have here. And the customer is a priority and the customer is first. I have a rule. You'll never get in trouble for trying to take care of one of our customers. We might talk later on about what we could have done better, but you'll never get in trouble for going out of your way to take care of somebody. So we really do take care. So I would like to use a quote that one of our dentist customers used, and I apologize for the language, but it's her language, not mine. She said, You guys rate real high on the give a shitometer.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it.

Bill Ramsey
So she was very clear about that, that we care. She knows we care.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Just so for people that aren't familiar with this, how do you actually go about getting these customer satisfaction scores? Is that built into your process? Are you asking on a consistent, regular basis? How does that work?

Bill Ramsey
It is built into our process. Every ticket that we close has the ability for them to rate how we've done. We encourage them to do so. Our text will ask them to do so. We want to hear their feedback. Their feedback is just going to make us a better company.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Got it. Every time you have a support ticket, that's when the request goes out. Do you also do it at the end of onboarding a new client as well?

Bill Ramsey
That's actually something that we're talking about doing. We're also doing NPS surveys with our customers to see how we're doing. The industry average for an IT company is around 41, I think, on NPS. I think we're sitting at a 63. Overall, pretty good.

Tim Fitzpatrick
That's very good. For those that know, NPS is net promoter score. That's really interesting. You're melding that into your process as well. You're asking for NPS separately at different times than you are for the customer satisfaction score?

Bill Ramsey
Correct.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Got it. I love that. I'm assuming with the customer satisfaction score, are they simply rating or do you also get written feedback as well?

Bill Ramsey
We get both. It's interesting. I really like, and we call this out to our team, so all CSAT scores are posted immediately when they're made into a team's channel, and so any of the employees can see the feedback. And we also like to call out anytime somebody's mentioned by name, and quite frequently they are. It's pretty amazing how many times somebody says, Hey, this person went above and beyond for us. Hey, this person was great. We try to recognize that, too, publicly.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I would also think that, one, your team appreciates the recognition, but I think it also reinforces your culture because every time they're just continually seeing these customer satisfaction scores come in and it's just like, damn, if I'm not... The bar has been set high, I need to make sure that I'm continuing this. So I think that's a great way... One of my mentors always talked about with culture, how you've got to gently but relentlessly beat the drum. And so it's just over, over, over again. It's not in your face, but it's just I'm gently beating that drum. And I think that's a great way to do it.

Bill Ramsey
I heard a quote just this last week actually, and I repeated it today to my staff, and I really liked it is every company has a culture, whether it's either by design or by default.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Right.

Bill Ramsey
I loved that. That's true. If you're not designing your culture and you're not always trying to show what that should be, then there'll be a culture there, but it's probably not the one you want.

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Marketing Strategy is the Fuel and the Tactics are the Vehicles

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, exactly. It's not the culture you intended. One of the biggest marketing challenges that you mentioned is getting the right information in front of the right people and getting your message through clearly. This is a challenge for a lot of businesses. It is not. What have you done to try to fix this?

Bill Ramsey
Gosh, I don't know. I feel like we've tried everything, and I know that's not true, but we've been very deliberate about our marketing and trying to say who we are, what we are. We have four different business lines, basically. And so it's a lot to get out there in front of people. We have tried different programs to do our marketing. We've done email marketing, we've done direct mail marketing. I've tried in the past, I tried TV and I tried radio and I tried billboards. Those really don't work for the MSP space. Not really. So I feel like I've tried just about everything.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Everything.

Bill Ramsey
It's very challenging and it's never ending. You constantly are revamping it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. It's constantly... Marketing is constantly evolving, right? It's not a set it and forget it type activity. There are a few things that come to mind that I'll share with you, but I know there are tons of people that experience this, so hopefully this will help them as well. With marketing, Dan Kennedy, who is the godfather of direct marketing, always talks about message media match, which I think is a very simple way to look at it. The way I look at it is very similar, which is you got to understand your ideal clients and who those people are. Only then can you actually create a message that's going to attract and engage those people. And then you have to identify where the heck those people are. And it's simple, but it's not easy. It requires work. But when we identify who our ideal clients are, which sometimes it takes a little while to figure that out. And if you're just starting out, you've got to do some initial research and then just make some educated decisions about this is where we're going to focus right now because we can't focus broadly. So we've got to make some decisions where we're going to focus. If you've been in business for a while, the easiest place to start is your existing customer base.

Bill Ramsey
Right.

Tim Fitzpatrick
And identify who your ideal clients are out of that base. And then, and only then can we create our message that's going to attract and engage those people. And the best way that I have found to do that is to interview your ideal clients. Talk to them, hear about it in their words, their language, really understand how they buy, what that process, what their thought process was like, what they did, what actions they took throughout the buyer's journey, then you can create your messaging. And with messaging, we got to focus on them. They don't care about us, so the message needs to focus on them. And we need to keep it simple and clear, not clever. A lot of times we try to get clever and we just confuse people. Now, to get in front of them, once you understand who they are, then you can create a list. One of my mentors said success starts with a list. Well, I call it an ideal client GPS. How can I get in front of and find my ideal client? Once you know who they are, then you can create the list. So for example, one of our clients is a CPA and a tax advisor. She specializes in Veterinary Practices. So when we started working with her, we just created a list of where events are. This is what websites do they frequent? What YouTube channels do they follow? What events, associations, trade shows do they attend? Who are the suppliers in the market? Suppliers can be great people for referral partner relationships, that stuff. What podcast do they listen to? Email list they follow? The list goes on and on. But we have this ideal client, GPS template with all these places they could be, and then you just start doing the research. In her case, this is probably a 25 page Google document. There's a lot of information on there, and you're certainly not going to try and be all of those places at one time. But that is a list you can always go back to and say, Okay, right now for the next 90 days or six months, we're going to focus on these places. Guess what? At least you know that in those places, you're fishing where the fish are. You're not talking to people that aren't going to be a good fit for you. You know exactly. You're very targeted about where you're going to be. So you know that you're getting your message in front of the right people. Now, the right time, totally different scenario, right? Because the right time, I just throw this out. The statistic varies depending on who you talk to. But let's just say in general, somewhere between 5 % to 10 % of your market, and I may be being generous there, 5 % to 10 % of your market is ready to buy at any given time. So that's where it becomes really important. They may not have that pain at that point, but if you can just continue to stay in front of these people, gather contact information in some way, shape, or form, and just nurture the relationship so that when they are in that 5 % to 10 %, they think of you. Because if you're not one of the first two people they think of, you're not going to get the business. I hope that breakdown helps. It's not tactical. It's very strategic. But the strategy has to be done first because the strategy is the fuel, the marketing tactics are the vehicles.

Bill Ramsey
What we've done, we've defined our target market now. It could be much more narrow in scope. I know right here on my wall, I can see it, organizations with 20 plus employees and compliance markets with MSAs of 500,000 or over that need technology based solutions for compliance requirements. Now, we could do a much better job of defining that, but that's our initial run at what our target market is. We can narrow that scope much better.

Tim Fitzpatrick
You're way ahead of most people. You have one. And like I said, because you have one, the more action you take, the more you can start to refine it. But you got to start with something. So you started with something and now you start to use it and you can refine it as you get more and more information. A lot of times too, what I find, the demographics, the numbers behind the ideal clients are one thing. The psychographics are equally, if not more important. The psychographics is what helps us really get into their head about what problems do they have, what are their aspirations, their dreams, what are the outcomes they're looking for, how are they feeling about where they're at. The more we can get into their head, the more we can craft a message where they're going to be like, God, they don't know exactly what I'm going through. That's what we want to have happen. But the fact that you even have an ideal client persona or buyer avatar written out, printed is more than most. So kudos to you for having a place to start. And look, marketing is never perfect. We're always refining it and it's always getting better. But we got to start somewhere. So I want to talk about something else that you mentioned on the marketing side of things that I think people can learn from. Again, a common boat people find themselves in where they've spent money on a system, invested in some and it just didn't work out as well as they would have liked. What did you learn from that experience?

Bill Ramsey
I learned that the can solution isn't really right for us. We like to think we're a unique company, and I know everybody likes to think they're a unique company. We get that a lot. Well, we're different. The particular program that we were trying to use, this market is saturated. Our market is saturated with it. There's way too many people trying to use it. People have seen these letters. They've seen these promotions, and they're numb to it. It doesn't work for us. Then one of the things that we found as we were doing this is while there's this formula that they were using that seems to work for a lot of these smaller MSPs, that formula isn't us. We like to think that we're different. We like to present ourselves differently. We are not the normal IT company. We don't feel that way. This marketing that we were trying to do, it just truly wasn't us. To be honest, I couldn't get, because of that, I couldn't get good buy in from our staff because they could feel that it wasn't us. It's unfortunate, but it just didn't work like it has for others and like we wanted it to. But putting my staff to buy in on it was an important part. T hey would just look at it and go, Man, that's not us. That's not us.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Did you feel as you were doing it and you felt like it wasn't you, did you feel weird actually doing it?

Bill Ramsey
In some cases, yes. We pushed through because it's a proven program. There's so many people that use it. It's huge. So we pushed through and to our own detriment, really, I think we stuck with it probably longer than we should have. And we spent a ton of money that I don't see us recouping anytime soon. And it just never felt right. We really wanted it to, but it just never felt right. It never felt like us.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Thank you for sharing that because I think there's a lot people can learn from this. I want to pull a few things out that you shared. One is that you said the can solution wasn't right. One of the things that I always talk about with marketing planning is there's no one size fits all marketing solution. There is no silver bullet. If I was to sit down with you and another MSP, the plan is not going to be the same. You're starting from different places. Your goals are totally different. Your resources are different. All of those things impact what you can and should put into a plan. You talked about the formula, right? The formula wasn't right. It wasn't you. You can't put in a plan something that just doesn't feel right for you. Or I love video content, but if I'm working with somebody and they are terrified of video content, that's not going to be a good fit. I can't tell somebody to do that. It's like putting a square peg in a round hole. There are plenty of other things that we could do that are still going to be equally effective. You really have to take a holistic approach when you look at marketing and think about what's going to work for you and create a plan that works for you, that's going to get you where you want to go. You're different than every other company out there in that regard. The fundamentals, the fuel, the strategy behind marketing is the same. Those don't really change. But what goes in the plan and what marketing vehicles do you choose to use? There's so many different options there, and it's got to be right. Because like you said, if you don't get buy in from your team, obviously it's going to impact your ability to execute on it effectively. I thank you for sharing that because I think a lot of people go down that path like, Well, I paid for this program. They say it works. I think a lot of the programs that are out there do work. The frameworks work. Where I think a lot, and I'm not going to say every, where I think a lot of more tactical focused programs go off the rails for some people is there's not any focus on the strategy. The way I think of strategy is fuel. The tactics are the vehicles. If you don't have strategy in place, you have a vehicle and you have no fuel. It's not that the program is bad or the techniques that they're using are bad. I think sometimes there's just things that are out of alignment or they're out of sequence. With marketing, the sequence is just as important as what you choose to do. Thank you for sharing that.

Bill Ramsey
Of course.

Conclusion: You'll Never Get in Trouble for Taking Care of the Customer

Tim Fitzpatrick
You've shared a ton of good stuff, though. I got a couple more questions for you. The second to last question I have for you is, what's next? Where's your focus? You mentioned, Hey, we've made all these acquisitions. We're doing a reset, getting everything where we want it to be. Where are you focused this year?

Bill Ramsey
We are really hyper focused on the compliance market, specifically, CMMC and HIPAA. CMMC is coming faster than anyone wants to admit. It is it impacts a ridiculous number of companies. Anybody with a DOD contract or a subcontractor for anybody with DOD work, it's going to be here before they know it, and it's going to take longer than they think to get prepped to get ready for it. So we're really focused on that. And it's been a challenge to get people to understand you need to be on top of this now. And then the HIPAA compliance, that's been around in solid for a while here. And we're taking a good foray into that as well.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So that's where you're focusing your marketing sales efforts towards these companies that fall into those categories.

Bill Ramsey
Compliance. They have technology based needs for their compliance requirements.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Look, Bill, you already refined your buyer avatar even more. And I think as you continue to refine it, the narrower people go, typically the easier it is to start to identify where to find people. So I love that. Last question I have for you is knowing what you know now, is there anything that you would do differently?

Bill Ramsey
Oh, man, I would do so many things differently. Like so many. The neat thing about the position that I'm in is I'm actually getting to do that because this is the time. So I've taken all those lessons that I've learned and we are doing things differently. I've taken 20 years of partner feedback and mistakes, and we're trying to move forward with that. Then I've got half of my staff has owned their own MSPs. We've got all that experience to lean on. It's really one of our differentiators is we have such an owner's mindset. We've done this for so long. We get to benefit from a ridiculous amount of experience and a ridiculous amount of mistakes and a ridiculous amount of successes.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Everything's a learning experience, right?

Bill Ramsey
Exactly. We talk about this frequently. We don't necessarily celebrate mistakes or celebrate failures. But I talked to my staff, and again, we did it today, about the cartoon, the movie Meet the Robinsons. Keep moving forward, keep moving forward. And when somebody blows something up, they all cheer. They're like, you made a mistake. We're not quite to that level, but we're okay with that. We embrace that. We don't want somebody blowing a server up, obviously. We've been building our team commitment covenants, so our commitments to each other. One of those is that nobody fails alone. We fail as a team. We're really pushing those kinds of things, but we do want them to know it's okay. We will make mistakes. Another core value, take ownership.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah.

Bill Ramsey
Own it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it. That's one of mine. Take responsibility. It's such a great one. Such an important one to have. Bill, thank you so much for taking the time. This is a fantastic conversation. I've really enjoyed reconnecting with you again. Where can people learn more about you if they want to do so?

Bill Ramsey
They can go out to our website, heysoteria.com. I think it's scrolling here on the screen.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yes.

Bill Ramsey
Yeah, there we go. They can go out there and they can learn whatever. Right on the front page, it's going to say, Hey, you want 15 minutes of my time? Click here, book me, 15 minutes with talk. I've had people book 15 minutes to talk about all kinds of things. You want to talk? Let's talk.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Awesome. So we'll make sure that link is in the show notes as well for those that are listening. But it's heysoteria, which is H, E, Y, S, O, T, E, R, I, A.com. Bill, thank you so much for taking the time. For those of you that are watching and listening, I appreciate you. I know there was plenty of just wisdom that Bill shared with us today that we can take away and well, avoid... What did you say in the beginning? Learn what not to do. If we can learn from not only the things that we've done, but from what others have done, which is why we do these types of interviews. It's going to help you get to where you want to go faster. If you want to connect with us, you can do that over rialtomarketing.com, which is RIALTOmarketing.com. We've been focused a lot about growth during this conversation. Revenue acceleration. If you want to know which of the nine revenue roadblocks are slowing down your growth, you can do that over revenueroadblocksccorecard.com. It takes us in five minutes. You'll get a customized report and you'll be able to start looking at what's slowing down your growth and removing those roadblocks so that you can accelerate growth. Thank you so much. Until next time, take care.


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About the author, Tim Fitzpatrick

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