Here at Continuum we realize that most of our customers are marketing their MSP (managed service provider) offerings to the small and medium business (SMB) market. And that’s just fine, because most of the businesses in the U.S. fall into the SMB category. How is this category defined?
For our purposes, we’ll take companies that range from 25 to 100 or 200 employees. We understand there are other ways to slice that pie but today we’ll just play a little.
In order for MSPs to win the technological hearts and minds of SMBs, it’s critical to understand some of the top areas that you and your sales efforts will need to be intimately aware of in order to be successful.
1. Recognize the Many Hats of the SMB
Even in your own MSP business you’re probably wearing many different hats. While the dream is to work ON the business rather than IN the business, most days don’t allow for that. Putting out fires, handling employee issues and so many other things crop up in the day-to-day that you can feel like you’re not focused.
Guess what? Your SMB prospect feels the exact same way. Our suggestion is that before you get to the nitty gritty of a solution for the SMB, why not get to know them as people? Sure, it takes time and it requires some extra effort, but SMBs like to do business with people they know, and building relationships in the SMB space is paramount. Who would you rather buy from, a vendor or friend? That’s an easy one.
2. Identify as Many Decision Makers as Possible
Rarely does an SMB decision rest with just the owner. In fact, depending on the size of the company, there may be several buyers to consider including the user buyer, the economic buyer, influencers and a few others. The more you are aware of the various influences on a purchasing decision, the more likely you won’t be ambushed during the buying process.
3. Recognize Where You Are in the Pecking Order
Don’t assume that your offering is always at the top of your SMB customers’ minds. In fact, if SMBs are using your services, there may be a chance that they were looking to offload as much of their IT needs as possible so they could concentrate on their core competencies. In order to increase the exposure of the importance of your offering, though, find out where your portfolio truly adds value to your customer's business and do things that reinforce that position. You don’t want your customers or prospects to ever wonder why they’re using your MSP.
4. Be a Thought Leader
One area that is underserved by most MSPs is putting evidence out in the marketplace that helps your customers remember that you’re a leader in your field. Blog posts, speaking engagements, newspaper columns and more help validate your position in the market. Everyone likes to think they made the decision to go with a winner, and the more they see your company helping teach others, the more comfortable they become with you and the less likely they are to leave.
5. Be a Partner
Do you only connect with your customers about renewals, or do you speak to them on a regular basis and truly build a relationship with them? If you don’t connect with your customers, you run the risk of simply being a vendor. Vendors are expendable. Partners are indispensable. Make yourself indispensable.
Continuum will keep talking about some of the more important practices of your customers in our blog so we can help you become as good a business as you are an MSP. Please let us know if there are subjects you’re interested in having us explore in the future. We’re here to make you better!