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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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Turning Executive Business Reviews Into New Revenue Opportunities

Posted April 25, 2018by Nicole Hunter Hart

Turning Executive Business Reviews Into New Revenue Opportunities

As referenced in my last installment, Executive Business Reviews (EBRs) aid in driving awareness, communication, and reinforcing trust when expansion opportunities arise in your client base. With this foundation of how to deliver a highly effective EBR, it’s time to take things a step further to better engage with your clients and create meaningful relationships and mutually beneficial outcomes.

Executive business reviews should deliver both information and value to your clients in a clear, concise manner. Clients should leave the meeting with a better understanding of the work you’ve been doing to keep their business running efficiently, as well as the areas where you can help them improve. This is a delicate balance, so you must do your research prior to the meeting to be successful at capturing new revenue opportunities that are presented.

Focus on the following key items to help you achieve your goal.

1. Preparing for and Recognizing Strategic Opportunity

When preparing for an EBR and building the presentation deck, the employee leading the review should first conduct account awareness and research. This includes data on work performed over the last 90 days, support given, and themes visible in the data. Additionally, this research should help identify a few areas where the client could improve productivity, efficiency, or systems/equipment, while keeping in mind business value and improved outcomes.

Once these opportunities have been recognized, the EBR lead should prepare potential solutions your MSP can provide, allowing the client to see better value and improved business efficiency. For example, this could be employee time saved, money saved by using a different solution, or solving an ongoing problem/deficiency they have been dealing with for some time. You always want to feel fully prepared and ready with solutions when entering a business review with your client.

2. Introducing the Opportunity to Clients

Every EBR should have a section dedicated to new projects and initiatives. This should happen after you discuss topics like work performed, asset/warranty information review, and patching. At that point, your client should understand the current state of their relationship with you and the value you bring to help them achieve their business goals. So, it's the optimal time to introduce new projects and initiatives and open a discussion on how you can help them moving forward.

This conversation should focus on current items as well forward-looking items you have identified on the horizon. Now, not all clients will be ready to get started right away. This could be because they want to think about what you have proposed, but it could be budget constraints or priority juggling that holds them back. You must know your clients and come ready to have an honest conversation around their business and how you can assist them in their success.

In short, you must really know your client and their business. Illustrate in your presentation 2-3 items for them to consider, along with estimated costs and the benefits to their business. Items could include upgrading services to unlock more value, a small project to set them up for future success, or an equipment upgrade roadmap. No matter what you are presenting, you need to keep the client’s perspective at the center of the discussion—always coming back to the benefits and value they will receive in agreeing to the upgrade or extra work.

3. Objection Handling

As everyone knows, all the preparation and data in the world can’t prevent all objections. You need to prepare for these to come up during the review. Again, knowing your client will clue you in to where they are likely to object, and thus give you the opportunity to prepare yourself.

Most successful MSPs come to EBRs armed with data and examples of how they have helped other clients in the same manner and seen direct benefits. If you have not kept examples with data of how you have helped clients in the past, now is the time to start! The easiest place to house this data is a CRM tool, but you can even start a spreadsheet, or something similar, to document success stories.

Come to the EBR with a couple of success stories that will resonate with your client and pertain to the type of project/upgrade you are proposing. Nothing helps you sell value like another client’s success story.

It’s important to note that if, when preparing, you discover your client is “at risk” or recently dissatisfied with your service, it may not be appropriate to include a “new projects/initiatives” section in your EBR. In its place, you should come to the review prepared to discuss the issues, actions you have taken, actions to be taken, and how to best move forward. This type of discussion often leads to resetting of expectations, uncovering deviations from best practices, and an opportunity for you to own your mistakes and improve moving forward. If handled correctly, trust is repaired, and opportunities can be identified for follow up once issues are fully resolved.

4. Client Advocacy

Always seize the opportunity to leverage an advocate of your services! Your most satisfied clients will likely be happy to be your advocate, should you provide them with the opportunity.

Take this review as the chance to ask for advocacy. Depending on your client, you may ask for a testimonial for your website or marketing materials, ask to use their data for examples with other clients in how you deliver value and success (obviously letting them know you will remove sensitive/identifiable info), ask them to be a reference for potential clients you may have, or to test out a new product/service and provide you with feedback. All these items should be reserved for your most satisfied and loyal clients and further develop your relationship.

Advocacy alone does not create an opportunity for new revenue, but it does create the trust and space in a relationship where new opportunities grow and flourish. The more you know about your client and their business, the better positioned your business is when helping them solve real problems and provide the best outcomes for mutual success.

Conclusion

When done properly, an executive business review will benefit you and your client equally. You should prepare to show the client where you are delivering value and supporting their business. Then, take the opportunity to identify, communicate, and capture new revenue opportunities designed to provide your clients with better outcomes and more efficiency in their businesses. You may come up against some objections or clients who may be at risk, but if you’re prepared, these can be turned into opportunities themselves.

 

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Nicole is a passionate Customer Success leader specializing in cross-functional programs to drive an elevated customer experience and promote customer retention and revenue growth. In her role as Senior Manager, Partner Success Programs at Continuum, she leads strategic efforts across the organization centered around bringing our partners’ voice into every interaction for a customer centric approach. She does this via Voice of the Partner, Partner Survey programs, advisory councils, and customer lifecycle optimization initiatives. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys reading, interior decorating, catching the latest superhero movie, and traveling to new locations.

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