The managed services model has been revolutionary for IT integrators and clients alike. It affords much-needed financial stability through predictable, recurring revenue and provides an all-encompassing support platform for end clients. However, the MSP business model is only effective when it is well executed.
An MSP must know how to communicate value to clients. Relationships with vendors must be grounded in mutual trust, and a circle of influence that includes other successful MSPs should be established. With these things in mind, let’s take a closer look at three managed services best practices: selling solutions rather than products, buying only from vendors that understand your needs and stand behind you, and getting involved in partner communities.
1. Sell Solutions, Not Products
An MSP must know how to approach customers and prospects by understanding how their pain points can be effectively addressed through managed IT services. Remember, customers actually need much more than products – they need your expertise and your ongoing support.
It’s paramount to listen closely to your clients, identify their problems quickly, understand their needs, and deliver clear, concise proposals that will reassure them that you understand their business goals and can offer effective solutions. Don’t isolate your customers by mindlessly droning about product features and specs, change the topic of conversation to something you can do for them—talk solutions, not products.
2. Buy from a Vendor Who Gets You
MSPs need the help of suppliers that stand behind their solutions. Having worked as an MSP for over 15 years, one major problem I noticed was that few hardware suppliers were solely in business to serve the integrator. That’s why when I had the opportunity to start Aisle8, I was excited to specifically address the inefficiency and lack of specialization of the existing distribution channel with a new, unique, integrator-centric model.
So before choosing a vendor, ask yourself if they “get” you. For example, do they offer excellent pre- and post-sale technical support? At the end of the day, your customers don’t care who made product XYZ. As far as they’re concerned, you talked them into buying the device, so it’s your product and your reputation—and it’s your responsibility to keep things running smoothly. That’s why it’s paramount to partner with suppliers that understand and support you.
Without a doubt MSPs also need to select vendors who are open to feedback and even product suggestions. Any supplier or manufacturer that doesn’t graciously accept and implement feedback from the people who actually use their products doesn’t deserve your business.
3. Get Involved in a Partner Community
By far, word of mouth is the best way to learn about great vendors and products, industry trends, business practices, and new technologies. So if you haven’t found a suitable partner community, you should! There are many types of partner groups—from formal communities like CompTIA and ASCII to national networks of MSP peer groups that stress accountability and improved leadership and management skills like HTG Peer Groups. These peer groups often host industry events that serve as intellectual safe zones where MSPs can treat each other like colleagues, rather than competitors.
Continuum’s Navigate 2015 Conference, for example, is an excellent opportunity for MSPs to share insights and learn from industry influencers. So find a community that will provide you with valuable insights and access to resources you can’t find anywhere else.
There are lots of great support networks and ideas for growing a successful managed IT services business, and these three are certain to steer you in the right direction and ensure long-term success. So take them to heart! Your bottom line will grow and your clients will thank you.
To learn more about Aisle8, meet us at Booth 20 at Navigate 2015 or visit onaisle8.com.
How else can you be a successful MSP?