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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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Your 2018 Business-Wide Success Guide | Part 5: Evaluating Vendor Relationships

Posted December 27, 2017by Lily Teplow

Your 2018 Business-Wide Success Guide | Part 5: Evaluating Vendor Relationships

The IT channel has evolved immensely over the past decade or so—giving way to a new, complex environment that now requires you to obtain a variety of products or services from third-party vendors. But for many MSPs and IT service providers, selecting the right vendor(s) for your business and maintaining those relationships can be a difficult task. In turn, this has led to a sort of see-saw dilemma; with your vendor relationships on one side and your customer relationships on the other. The reality is that most MSPs spend their time focusing on the latter. However, today’s most successful MSPs not only value their vendor relationships, but give them equal or more attention and care than their customer relationships.

We’ve officially reached the end of our series, Your 2018 Business-Wide Success Guide, which is designed to help you plan for and achieve success in the new year. Each post dug into a specific department of your business, helping establish a success plan with useful and tangible strategies. In part four, we talked about which financial metrics you should track and measure in order to optimize your financial health. In this last installment, you’ll learn how to build strong relationships with your vendors and get more value out of your partnerships.

What to Look for in a Vendor Relationship

With the end of the year quickly approaching, now is a perfect time to take a step back and consider what your business needs to excel in 2018. Essentially, why do you want to work with a vendor? Are you looking to modernize your tech stack or gain access to new technology? Do you want to expand your portfolio or deliver a new service? These factors will determine what you need in a vendor to establish a strategic and profitable partnership.

But what exactly does a good relationship between a vendor and an MSP look like? It all boils down to how you can grow together. Understanding their business model, the people you will work with and the opportunities that the relationship will unfold. You don’t want to be just another cog in the wheel, so here a few signs that a vendor is worth doing business with:

  1. They have a commitment to the channel.
  2. They have well-developed products that will integrate with your tools.
  3. Their products allow you to scale and meet the needs of your clients.
  4. They have an advisory board, or are open to receiving feedback from the channel relating to their products and services.

How to Get More Value from Your Vendors

When you’ve found the right vendor(s) for your MSP business, you also need to consider how you can get the most out of your partnerships. Keep the following strategies in mind.

Focus on Creating Strong Partnerships

Relationships are great, but partnerships are even better. Your MSP business will benefit from strong, collaborative partnerships built on trust and value that is apparent to both parties. The biggest challenge here is getting to a point where these vendors feel more like partners. This can be overcome simply by staying engaged and connected with your vendor or account manager. By doing so, you’ll be able to stay current on the products and services you use, take full advantage of existing features and be more strategic about your overall partnership.

Make Your Priorities Apparent

You should have a general understanding of your vendor’s business model, and they should have a clear understanding of your company’s vision as it relates to the relationship. To make your priorities apparent from the get-go, sit down with your account manager to share both your immediate and future goals. Don’t hesitate to keep your vendors up-to-date on product launches or ongoing developments. You’ll get more value out of your vendor partnerships when you know they have your business goals in mind. 

Learn How to Plan for Growth Together

Is your vendor going to directly align with your goals and the direction you want your company to take? As your business grows, you have to consider where you want to be six months, a year, or even three years from now. Thinking long-term will help you better plan for growth and set up a win-win partnership.

Additionally, encourage your vendor to be transparent about their roadmap. If you can see what’s getting released down the line or the path of their suite of products, you’ll be able to align your business accordingly. This prevents you from reinventing the wheel as you go, or trying to find another product that fits into a certain niche when the vendor you really want to work with is developing that missing component. 

Conclusion

In this day and age, it’s tough to succeed in the IT channel all by yourself. However, by leveraging vendor partnerships, you don’t have to do it alone. If you’re still searching for that perfect partner, Continuum may be your answer.

In fact, Continuum partners represent some of the most profitable and successful service providers in the industry. Our proven model is backed by nearly 1,000 technicians who act as a direct extension of your workforce—providing instant operational capacity and scalability to take on customers of any size with confidence. No more worrying about bridging the skills gap or increasing your technical headcount as you take on new clients. With Continuum, your MSP business will be empowered to achieve steady growth, outperform your competition and increase profitability.

Want to learn more? See the power of Continuum's transformative platform for yourself!

We hope you’ve found this series helpful in priming your MSP business for success in 2018. We covered a lot over the past few weeks, including how to refresh your approach to marketing, build a consistent and predictable sales engine, make client satisfaction a driver for your MSP business, optimize your financial health and finally, how to get the most value out of your vendor partnerships. Now it’s time to take these lessons, apply them to your business and achieve higher levels of success in the new year!

 

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Lily is a Content Marketing Manager at Continuum and is passionate about helping businesses solve their biggest challenges. She is responsible for managing Continuum’s MSPblog and writing on a variety of topics, from sales and marketing to cybersecurity, helping establish authority in the MSP market. Lily is also a seasoned content creator and has supported Continuum’s PR and media efforts. In her spare time, Lily enjoys singing, traveling the world, and cheering on her favorite Boston sports teams!

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