Are you leveraging your in-house expertise to its fullest potential? Clients already expect you to be a thought leader, but could you be making money off of these exchanges, or potentially using them to win more business?
This final post in our How to Differentiate Yourself in a Growing Competitive MSP Landscape blog series addresses these questions with insights and advice on business expansion through a virtual chief information officer (vCIO) .
Most enterprise-level organizations have the bandwidth and budget to hire a Chief Information Officer, but for smaller businesses, it’s just not possible. Establishing yourself, or someone in your business, as a vCIO could be the golden ticket to opening up new revenue streams in exchange for the knowledge and services you already offer. Building this practice into your business model could help you scale your business faster and more efficiently.
Steps to Build Your vCIO Practice
But how does one go about building this practice successfully? In our new eBook, How MSPs Win More Business with a vCIO Practice, we explore what it takes for an MSP to hit the ground running. Hint: You already have a lot of the skills and expertise needed. Here’s a quick checklist:
- A deep understanding of your client’s business needs and goals
- Think infrastructure and financially
- Industry knowledge and expertise
- To stay current & help keep your clients safe and secure
- The ability to think creatively and strategically to help their business grow
- Showing your investment in their success
It is critical for the MSP to first seek to understand the SMB’s business, their goals and direction. You can’t be a vCIO style advisor without also asking questions to gain information outside of the technology. For example: Is the SMB expanding to a new region or state? Have they hired new employees? Did they just purchase new desktops? Do their customers have access to an application of any kind? What are the resources in the field? Do they have seasonal trends that need to be recognized or which may impact the business?
Managing the different facets of business IT requires a broad set of skills that span operations—keeping the lights on and the engines running—but also serving higher-level, strategic functions. Someone must translate the cloud options for customers, identify emerging challenges and threats and they must understand how IT can help solve them. Also needed is someone who can examine the potential of technology to transform operations and grant a competitive edge.
Going Beyond "MSP"
Implemented properly, your vCIO role will serve as an instrument that puts you ahead of the competition and brings you a host of benefits that should help expand your MSP business. The opportunity you have as a trusted advisor is to surface customer challenges and increase customer revenue by selling appropriate solutions.
Stepping into this operational and strategic role is a rich opportunity for the MSP. Such an expanded role means a greater opportunity for you to expand your business and achieve increased customer spend, at relatively lower acquisition cost versus relying solely on net-new clients. Additionally, it can increase your customer retention rate as you continue to deliver that value.
The combination of all of this, plus your established working relationship will position yourself as a partner they value and trust, even beyond managing their IT services. Ultimately you're setting yourself up for return business for years and years to come. This also puts you top of mind for referrals and opens up conversations for new opportunities to expand among your current client base.
While the rough skills are there it takes a lot of effort and learning to keep current and build a truly effective program, but when you do and maintain it, you’re truly set yourself apart from the competition.
For more information about building your own vCIO practice, or to better understand what your clients are looking for, download our new eBook today.
By Meaghan Moraes
By Gretchen Hoffman