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Now that you’ve been at it for maybe six months to a year (or more), it’s time to look at your business as a whole, not just in parts. Let’s see what’s working, what’s not and what needs to be fine-tuned.
Below are the six items to be looking at when conducting your managed IT services reality check.
1. Sales and Marketing
Now that all systems are hopefully in place regarding your sales and marketing teams, KPIs are established, and employees and customers are happy, you can look forward and focus on the business instead of being in the business. This can mean anything from building up the business, keeping an eye on employee metrics, and not having to put out constant fires now that you are working with clients on a mostly managed IT basis.
This is also a great time to solidify your marketing message by ensuring that it is strong and refined when it comes to obtaining new business. This could include anything from sending direct-mail postcards to email blasts to regular blogs, social media updates and more. Another idea that has worked for some of Continuum’s MSP partners is an online or in-person “Lunch and Learn" webinar or seminar. This is an opportunity to not only show off your newly branded business, but to take questions from interested prospects and leads who might convert into new business.
Remember to ensure your website is updated to reflect your company’s new vision and mission, and also that both your sales and marketing teams have the right tools to scope out new projects and assess new revenue. These are all items that MSPs should be focusing on once they have made the switch from break/fix to recurring revenue.
This is very important because it can be your single biggest barrier to entry when it comes to gaining new customers and migrating current ones to your new model. As you refine pricing, keep costs in mind. Keep these questions in mind: What is my total cost of delivery? How much does it cost to deliver while keeping profits on target? Other times, it could be that your pricing might be on point, but your prospect says they don’t want to do business with you because they can hire someone to do IT for less money. In this situation, you could be looking at one of two scenarios: Either they aren’t serious about working with you on a managed-services basis, or you just might have to do a slightly better job of explaining your new business model, its value-add and all of the new cohesive services they will be getting. If it’s the latter, then it’s easy to be undercut because any “Joe the Computer Guy" selling phones out of a van can promote himself as offering a cheaper alternative.
If they still don’t understand the ROI and value of how your services will benefit them, then it’s not something you can control. Don’t be afraid to pass on a client that is just looking to nickel and dime you. They may be looking for the cheapest – rather than the best – way to run their business.
3. Account Management
As I mentioned earlier, now that you are focused on looking forward, task your team with regularly reviewing client accounts on a monthly and quarterly basis. It’s important at this stage to ensure that this happens. You don’t want your staff to take on the attitude of, “OK, we have our house in order, and we can forget about all the existing clients we converted to our new model." While you always want to be promoting and prospecting, you don’t want to neglect the loyal clients that are investing their trust and faith in you to provide a solid ROI for them with this new model. The key is maintaining your current client base with their best interests in mind and reinforcing your value — all while looking for new projects, because your focus is now on managed services and being proactive.
4. Project Work
I discussed account management and how it is paramount to task your team with reviewing client accounts on a regular monthly and quarterly basis. Not only will this help to ensure there are no year-end surprises, it will allow you to focus on lead generation and new business. When speaking to prospects, mention how you now (as an MSP) have the ability to offer tools like network assessments, security vulnerability scans, PC life-cycle management and updates. The relationship with your clients is changing — instead of servicing them on a reactive break/fix basis, you are now proactively looking at their networks as a whole. This is an opportunity to bring in new business from areas not previously available.
5. Outside Telecom Partnerships
If you were a telecom solution provider that has moved to incorporate a managed IT services model, you are now looking at your business differently. Instead of reactively providing and servicing phone systems, you are working on a proactive basis and selling on the basis of the quality of your service management, the customer’s overall long-term success and help desk services that provide your clients with a direct place to call and timely service. Again, this is an opportunity for more business!
Be sure to look for outside partnerships when it comes to clients’ telecom needs. Instead of thinking about it from a competitive perspective, approach it as more of a way to ensure that you can provide a high level of services and offerings for your clients, which could also lead to additional partnerships and business. I know of many MSPs that currently partner on these types of projects, and it often leads to bigger and better opportunities.
6. Business Rebrand
Once you have switched to managed services, ensure your brand is in order. Consider:
- Who are you? What is the purpose of your new company?
- What is your new identity? What do you want to be known for?
- What can current and new customers gain by working with your new company/brand?
While you might think that you already have a solid sales and marketing plan in place, your brand is completely separate. You need to have your new image and services in place before you offer services and seek out new clients. Be clear on what you are trying to accomplish and what you hope to gain by offering new services. Leveraging your well-known brand while launching a new offering and services to clients can be helpful, but at the same time, make sure they understand that you are providing the same services with the same people, now at a higher level.
By now, you should be looking to solidify your new business model and taking advantage of new revenue opportunities. With the items I mentioned, you should have much of the information you need to be successful — provided that you keep up with the changes and the different levels of services that you will now be offering. In order to ensure long-term success, remember to also focus on the day-to-day, short-term items that help keep your MSP business operationally sound and employees and customers happy.
By Tonya Barnett
By Susan Perez