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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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The Importance of Quarterly Business Reviews: Be an Advisor, Not Just a Provider

Posted February 13, 2015by Brandon Garcin

As an MSP, customer service is your #1 priority. Sure, you’re in the technology business – but you’re also in the relationship business. SMBs can purchase hardware and software solutions from big box retailers with just a few mouse clicks; they choose to partner with a local provider because there’s much more to managing an IT infrastructure than simply installing some new machines every now and again.

But as technology continues to evolve, and MSPs are able to handle a majority of IT monitoring and remediation functions remotely, it’s become difficult for many providers to continue demonstrating their value to their clients. At the end of the day, your customers probably don’t care about the inner-workings of your RMM tool, or the intricacies of your BDR solution – all that matters is that their systems remain online and running smoothly.

Think about it – if you no longer need to visit a customer’s office to fix things, then they don’t actually see the work you’re doing every day; and when that bill comes at the end of the month, some business owners may question whether they’re getting their money’s worth.

That’s where a quarterly business review (QBR) can help. By taking the time to visit a client for the sole purpose of checking in to see how things are going, you’ll be able to better demonstrate your value as a trusted partner and advisor – not simply a vendor.

Here are some quick QBR tips to help you get started:

Reviewing the Previous Quarter

Not surprisingly, the first step in a successful quarterly review is the review itself. Take a look back at the previous quarter and identify any major successes and challenges your customer faced. How well did your IT solutions and services perform? Did you meet your Service Level Agreements (SLAs)? 

Related: 6 Key Elements to Include in Your SLA - Pt 2: Coach's Corner Episode 4

This is your opportunity to really demonstrate the value you’re bringing to the table as a technology provider, so don’t hold back. Work with your customers to understand which KPIs are important to them, and be prepared to report on them during the review. And remember, data is critical here – numbers don’t lie, so be sure to have a few reports handy to showcase exactly what work is being done.

(Hint: You might want to consider leaving a few reports behind, so your clients can remember how much is actually going on behind the scenes when you’re not around!)

Looking to the Future

Just as you should work with each of your customers to determine which metrics matter to them, you should also identify what their goals and aspirations are. Is a customer looking to cut costs in the next quarter? Or scale their business to new heights? Are there any major upcoming IT initiatives or projects you should be aware of?

Consider building out a roadmap to help keep everyone on the same page, and to really reinforce the idea that you’re not simply providing technology services – you’re there to help your customers grow their respective businesses.

Remember to Be Transparent!

When it comes to these business reviews, honesty and transparency are absolutely critical. The less time you spend face-to-face with a client, the easier it is for them to forget the value of your services – and if you aren’t giving straight answers during your quarterly reviews, chances are things are going to head south quickly. 

Be as upfront and open as possible about the metrics you’re reporting on and the efficiency of your services. If a customer isn’t making the most of their investment in a given product or service, tell them; show them how to make the most of it, and you’ll be better off in the long run. The more time you spend building trust by helping your customers save money and operate more efficiently, the more likely they are to continue doing business with you (and let others know what a great partner you are).

Related: 
8 Strategies for Cross-Selling and Upselling Your Current Clients

Conclusion

As an MSP, part of your job is to act as a trusted advisor to your clients – and taking the time to understand what your customers are happy about, where they’re unsatisfied, and what their future goals are is an essential part of that relationship.

So don’t slack off when it comes to business reviews. Schedule face time with your clients, and show them exactly what it is you’re doing to help them grow. Once you show the love, your customers will thank you for it, and you’ll be in a prime position to upsell and capitalize on new revenue opportunities as they become available.

Be an advisor, not just a provider.


Do you know how to write a Service Level Agreement?
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Brandon Garcin is Continuum's Senior Content Strategist, and is responsible for the creation and execution of a variety of resources designed to win new business and support existing customer accounts. He has authored more than a dozen eBooks which have generated thousands of downloads, and has consulted with hundreds of Continuum partners to help improve their marketing and lead generation efforts through website optimization and content development. Brandon is also the host of The Weekly Byte, a video and audio series produced by Continuum that provides quick, digestible tips and best practices that MSPs can use to help their business succeed.

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