Referral & Review Strategies for Unstoppable MSP Growth

Let’s talk about a game-changing, yet often overlooked, aspect of growing your managed service provider (MSP) business. Yep, I’m talking about referrals and reviews.


I’ve always been a huge believer in the power of word-of-mouth marketing. It’s one of those genuine, unfiltered interactions that can propel your business to unimaginable heights. Today, we’ll talk about this traditional form of referral and how you can leverage it for your MSP. But don’t think we’ll stop there! We’ll also tackle how you take this strategy digital, exploring the crucial role of online reviews and client testimonials on platforms like Google, CloudTango, Clutch, and UpCity. 


Traditional Referrals: A Classic That Never Fades

In an increasingly digital world, old-school word-of-mouth referrals still pack a punch. These are genuine, heartfelt endorsements from satisfied customers that can carry significant weight. They’re basically your clients doing your marketing for you and trust me, there’s nothing better than that!


When it comes to sparking these precious referrals, the golden rule is simple: deliver exceptional service. When your clients feel valued, they’re more likely to share their positive experiences. And remember, nothing about this should be forced. The authenticity of these interactions is what makes them work.


Don’t forget to train your Account Managers on how to ask for referrals during QBRs (quarterly business reviews)


I’ve even encouraged some of my clients to ask for referrals automatically when their clients have had a certain threshold of positive scores on tickets. However, whenever possible it’s better to have a human being reviewing those tickets and reaching out with a custom email to ask if anyone in the client’s network could benefit from [insert whatever you’ve done for them].


Creating a Referral Program

In the journey of MSP growth, leveraging the power of satisfied customers through a referral program is akin to finding a hidden treasure chest. A well-structured referral program not only recognizes your clients’ value in your growth but also incentivizes them to become active participants in your success story. Here’s how to set the foundation for a program that rewards both you and your advocates:

  • Start with the Basics: Identify what makes your services referral-worthy and ensure your team consistently delivers on these key aspects. Exceptional service is the cornerstone of any referral program.
  • Define the Incentives: Whether it’s a discount on future services, a one-time gift, or recognition, choose incentives that resonate with your client base. The reward should feel meaningful enough to motivate action.
  • Make It Easy: The referral process should be straightforward. Whether it’s a simple online form or a direct line to your sales team, remove any barriers that could hinder your clients from referring you.
  • Communicate Clearly: Explain to your clients how the referral program works, what’s in it for them, and how they can participate. Clear communication is key to engagement.
  • Celebrate Success: Acknowledge and thank every referral, regardless of the outcome. Public recognition or private gratitude can reinforce positive behavior and encourage continued participation.
  • Monitor and Tweak: Keep a close eye on your referral program’s performance. Which incentives work best? Who are your top referrers? Use these insights to refine your approach and enhance the program over time.


Implementing a referral program is a dynamic way to amplify your MSP’s growth through the most trusted marketing channel there is — your satisfied customers. It transforms goodwill into tangible outcomes, propelling your business forward with the backing of those who know your value best.


Tailoring Incentives: What Matters Most to Your Clients?

A successful referral program hinges not just on offering rewards, but on providing incentives that genuinely resonate with your clients. The one-size-fits-all approach falls short here; what delights one client might be inconsequential to another. The secret? Ask them directly.

Consider running a simple poll to gauge what form of incentive your clients would value most. The options could include:


  • A Physical Gift: Something tangible and useful, perhaps tech-related or a branded keepsake from your MSP.
  • A Gift Card: Offers the flexibility for clients to choose their own reward from a retailer or service they like.
  • Cold Hard Cash: Direct, uncomplicated, and universally appreciated.
  • A Donation to the Charity of Their Choice: For clients who prefer to pay it forward, this option aligns with values and offers a feel-good reward.


This direct approach not only ensures your incentives will have the desired impact, but it also deepens your relationship with clients by involving them in the decision-making process. It sends a powerful message: their preferences matter to you, reinforcing their value beyond the business they bring.


Once you’ve gathered insights, structure your referral program around these preferences. By aligning your rewards with what your clients truly care about, you transform the act of referring into a more meaningful and mutually beneficial experience.


Remember, the best incentive is one that acknowledges and appreciates your clients’ individuality. Engage them, understand their preferences, and tailor your referral program to reflect the unique community you serve.


Online Reviews: Your Digital Power Tool

Next up, we’ve got online reviews. These bad boys can do wonders for your MSP’s online reputation and visibility. And, let’s be real, in today’s world, your online reputation can make or break you.


Google reviews, for instance, directly impact your local SEO. Encourage your happy clients to leave reviews and watch your business climb the search rankings. When you talk to a new prospect, one of the first things they’re likely to do is google you – think how much additional trust you build when their first result is dozen of 5 star reviews!


Then we have platforms like CloudTango, Clutch, and UpCity. Getting on these platforms can not only boost your visibility but also establish your brand as a top player in the MSP and IT sector.


If you google “Top MSPs” the first non sponsored result is likely to be one of Clutch’s top MSP rankings. In my case it’s Top IT Managed Service Providers in Florida – 2024 Reviews

My next result is a CloudTango list. Top Managed Service Providers in the United States 2024

Depending on your region, it may be as simple as getting 5-10 reviews to rank as the top MSP. Let’s take the Orlando metro area for example. If I go to Clutch and select “Managed Service Providers” there are 16,289 providers, and at the bottom of the leader’s matrix we have Xvand Technology, who only has 6 reviews. They’re ranking as a niche provider because they offer 100% managed services.

When I narrow into Orlando, FL, there are 137 firms. One thing you’ll notice if you browse Clutch’s reviews, is that many of the top MSPs in any given region are actually national MSPs. They are making the local list by having an office here. The top non-sponsored MSP in Orlando is GiaSpace which only has 3 reviews. Ranking just above SemTech which also has only 3 reviews. 


What’s the moral here? You can collect a handful of reviews from your clients and end up on a Top MSP list that you can then use in a blog, social media, and even a press release, further substantiating yourself and building trust before you ever meet with your prospect. 


It’s not quite a referral, but by building trust this way, you help your inbound and outbound leads feel more like referral business with a basis of strust.


LinkedIn Recommendations: The Professional Endorsement

LinkedIn, the professional’s social network, is a goldmine for recommendations. Seek endorsements from your clients here, but also consider giving them. Writing a LinkedIn recommendation for a client allows you to tell your own success story while simultaneously boosting your client’s profile. It’s a win-win!


I talked earlier in this article about how your prospect is likely googling you. 96% of prospects do their own research before speaking with a human sales rep, and 71% of them would prefer to do so solo (that means they’re not calling your curated references). So, where do they research? Beyond looking at reviews and your website, prospects might look for your or your company’s LinkedIn. What are they going to find? Hopefully recent testimonial posts and pictures of your awesome techs on the company profile and raving recommendations on yours. 


Your Next Steps

Alright, folks, that’s your action plan for bolstering your MSP’s growth through strategic referral and review strategies. Remember, every positive referral, review, or recommendation is a step towards establishing your brand as a trusted authority in the MSP market.


If you need a hand with these strategies or anything else related to your sales process or marketing plans, I’m just a click away. Schedule a 1:1 consultation with me, Megan Killion, and together, we can push your MSP to new heights.


Until next time, be authentic, stay positive, and never stop growing.

Sources: Clutch, HubSpot.