What would your perfect client look like? How many employees do they have? Are they in a certain geographical region? Do they work in a specific vertical? The answers to these questions may largely depend on the makeup of your MSP business.
In this sixth installment of the 7 Proven Tactics for MSP Growth, you’ll learn why targeting ideal clients can lead to better client life cycles and larger revenue over time—if you are aligned to support it.
At Navigate 2017, Continuum CEO Michael George outlined seven building blocks that the most profitable, growth-oriented MSPs in the industry all seem to have in common. Designed as actionable skills you can put to use immediately in your business, these tactics are proven building blocks for success in a modern managed IT services business. Each of the seven posts in this special series will explore one tactic in greater detail.
In the previous post, you learned how to sell to the business and revenue-driving sides of the house. Now, let's explore how you can better target clients and prospects to build a more profitable MSP business.
Tactic #6: Defining Your Ideal Customer Profile in Targeted Geographic and Vertical Markets
When building a go-to-market strategy, it’s important to identify how best to optimize your business across every possible dimension. Some ITSPs pride themselves on diversity, claiming they’re able to do everything for virtually any prospect. However, this approach can actually make it difficult to define who you really are, and can lead to confusion among customers who can’t determine if you actually possess the knowledge and expertise needed to support their specific business.
Defining Your Business
Start with an assessment of your skills and experience. Does your business lean heavily into a special area of expertise, or do you have a successful track record of delivering exceptional service to a specific business? If so, you may want to consider developing these strengths into the foundation of a vertically-aligned business.
On the other hand, there may be vertical markets ready and waiting for your services in your area, and it makes more sense to develop your business into one that caters to them. Moving into a vertical requires in-depth knowledge and experience in their industry, so develop a plan for training, education, certification and—if needed—compliance considerations so that your business can grow and adapt to support the vertical market needs.
Becoming Vertically Aligned
The better-defined you are, the more you can be “on target” for exactly what a prospect is looking for. Start by building success in one vertical market and grow your business there—then add another one, and another—but don’t try to be all things to all industries. Grow and develop your vertically-aligned business methodically and deliberately, so that your team builds the right skills and your processes can be revised and optimized to better deliver to vertically-aligned clients as you scale.
Targeting Geographic Concentrations
The same principles are true with regard to geographic concentration. Small business IT is local, and your customers want someone working in their neighborhood. If you’re taking the place of an in-house skill or resource, then you need to act like it—your customers want you to be nearby and accessible.
This is also a tremendous benefit to you as the ITSP, as it’s far more efficient to be traveling in a small concentrated geographic area than across a large one when visiting with your customers (which you need to do often). Time spent traveling on the road—or worse, on an airplane—just doesn’t make much sense.
There’s a real-world anecdote that speaks to this principle. In the mid-1980s, Xerox was in its prime and was dominating the copier industry. The company was recognized as a top-performing sales organization, and was able to cultivate amazing teams with top talent and results. Its most successful sales geographies, however, were not large maps with vertically diverse businesses—in fact, the most successful sales rep was the one who had a territory of just 22 floors in a lower Manhattan skyscraper comprised solely of financial services companies.
That sales rep was able to talk the same language, tell the same stories, use the same relevant references, perform on-site visits quickly and easily, and more—all simply by traveling up and down the same elevator bank in the same building. He built his small one-person office in that same elevator bank—a textbook exercise in efficiency and smart selling.
Some markets don’t support this level of concentration in either vertical density or geographic density – but other than truly remote operations, or very rural areas where there are not a lot of businesses, you can find these concentrated areas and achieve the results you’re looking for.
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