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5 Things Businesses Look for in an MSP Partner

Posted June 26, 2014by Ray Vrabel


The role of managed IT services providers (MSPs) is critical to the success of many SMBs because these businesses need the advice of a trusted partner when it comes to implementing and managing their IT solutions. MSPs are a cost effective solution for SMBs to utilize comprehensive IT systems and compete with big businesses. This is one of the main reasons why the managed services industry is set to grow 12.4% each year for the next 5 years. However, there are a number of options for SMBs to choose from when looking for a managed services provider.

So what do small businesses really look for in an MSP? Here are some good things to keep in mind.


1. A consultant, not a repairman

When it comes to their IT solutions, businesses need a subject-matter expert. They need someone they trust to build a reliable solution, not be there to fix their devices when they’re broken. Businesses need a consultant, not a repairman.

They also need someone who can sell them a solution, not just a collection parts. The real value you deliver as an MSP is putting the pieces together and making it work for your client, not just selling them the individual components. Don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions about a prospect’s current and future plans. The more you know about the customer or prospect, the better you can craft a solution to help them reach their goals.

Be a consultant to them and demonstrate the business impact you can deliver, not just the details of your technical solution. Now you are talking a language they can understand, appreciate and ultimately, will be willing to pay for.


2. Data on Your Services

Do you have data that proves the impact your service has had on other businesses? If your answer is no, why don’t you? Your word is good – but data tells a much more compelling story for your prospective customers. If you can say that you saved one of your clients 30% by utilizing server virtualization, don’t be afraid to brag a little (in a humble manner of course).

Being confident in your services makes prospects feel secure in the work that you’d provide to them. Work hard to differentiate yourself from the other competitors.

Need help standing out from the crowd? Here’s how to make your IT expertise shine online.


3. Savings and ROI

Any business owner knows the importance of ROI. If you are making bad investments, you will fail as a business…plain and simple. Therefore, no company is going to pay for your services if they don’t understand the value they’re getting from their investment. It’s crucial to demonstrate the value of your managed services business and portray this in your communications with prospects.


4. Regular Face time

Remote monitoring is a key component of managed services. However, you run the risk of becoming too remote from your clients. Don’t discount the impact of being across a desk from your customer or prospect. We are in a digital age for sure, but business ultimately comes down to a conversation between people. As I’ve mentioned, small businesses need a technology consultant, not simply a vendor. Scheduling face time with your clients is a great way to build trust and learn about their business goals.

If you are willing to invest the time in making face to face contact with your prospect or customer you will look different and gain respect. This goes a long way in today’s environment. Start building a reputation of being engaged, available and taking part in your clients’ businesses.


5. Focusing on the Business Issues at Hand

There is research that shows that the sales people that are the least effective in actually closing deals are those who are too relational in nature. They are more focused on making the prospect like them than they are with the business issues at hand.

The Challenger Sales model promotes the idea that in a truly productive sales effort there will be a challenge put to the prospect. This challenge is based on research done before the call that eliminates the usual discovery Q & A, and instead presents them with a challenge they must face. This doesn’t mean you must get in their face and dominate the conversation, but sometimes presenting them with a challenge is more effective than simply asking them how they’re doing.



There’s no doubt that small businesses need MSPs. However, there are many options to choose from and if you want to win their business, you need to understand what they’re looking for. These are a few things that can help you present yourself as a real asset to your prospects. Don’t just be a vendor. Be a problem identifier, a problem solver, a confidant and a consultant. Make yourself indispensable and you will be surprised how far this goes when selling to your prospects.

The Definitive Guide to Managed IT Services [eBook]

Ray Vrabel is Continuum's Director of Technical Account Management and participates in product and service growth initiatives, and also manages Continuum's Technical Account Management team, which supports over 3,500 partners worldwide. Prior to Continuum, Ray joined Zenith Infotech in 2005 and held several positions including Service Desk Manager, Sr. Technical Account Manager and Sr. Manager of Service Operations. He currently has over 15 years of experience in the IT industry, specializing in Managed Services, Disaster Recovery, and Cloud Solutions. Prior to Continuum and Zenith, Ray worked at ANH Refractories, a world-class provider of Refractories products, in their Service Desk Department supporting 53 locations and 1,500 employees. Ray also worked for a startup venture at Body Media a pioneer in wearable body monitoring systems as a technical lead in their Technical Customer Support Department. Ray holds a Bachelors of Science in Business Technology Support and Training from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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