Two thirds of companies now use managed service providers (CompTIA survey). But how should MSPs educate customers about the services they provide? See these tips.
In my last post, I wrote about the benefits of selling services through the MSP model, rather than relying on old-fashioned, unpredictable break-fix.
All well and good, but that’s often also about selling your customers on something new and different, when they’re used to something established and familiar – and we all know how difficult that can be!
So I spoke to some customers and some colleagues, and cast around on the internet, and came up with these useful tips to help you convince your customers that MSP is the way forward!
1. Don’t major on the technology. As this article in CRN eloquently argues, the mechanics of features and functions are absolutely not what will prompt your customer to make a decision in favour of MSP.
What your customers are really interested in is how MSP solutions can help them decrease risk, reduce costs, and – perhaps most critically of all – increase productivity.
Industry reports and analysis can strongly support your pitch in this respect. Comptia’s annual Trends In Managed Services research, for example, (you can see a non-gated slideshow summary here), contains some excellent references to productivity gains, savings, and ROI, all of which will be useful to you in a sales situation.
2. Ditch the “jargon monoxide”. Do you have any idea how downright poisonous some of the language accepted in IT circles can be to someone seeking to make a purchasing decision?
Simplicity and clarity are watchwords in any sales situation, but when you’re trying to persuade a customer to abandon the break-fix model that they may have trusted for many years, they become critical. Test your pitch on friends, family members, and deeply non-technical colleagues – and if they don’t instantly “get it”, rethink it.
The psychological impact of obscure language is immensely damaging to MSP sales relationships – as this piece in MSPblog explains. Want to make your customer feel stupid? Make them feel like they’re excluded from your clique? Want to make it sound like you’re lying through your teeth? Then carry on using the jargon.
Change is already disruptive and painful for customers – don’t make it unfathomable and repellent too.
3. Get over the monthly rate objection. From your point of view, the fixed monthly payment for your MSP services makes perfect sense – regular, predictable income in return for always-on monitoring and service.
Only, many customers won’t necessarily get that last part. In their mind, the choice you are giving them is between a monthly outflow of cash to protect them against something that “might never happen”, and an hourly rate that they only have to pay if something goes wrong.
The way to convince them is to highlight just how bad things could get if that something does go wrong. Would they get hit by financial loss if they were to experience more than, say, an hour’s downtime, for example?
How much have they invested in their IT infrastructure and how much more would they have to add to that to cover hourly-rate remediation in the event of something like major data loss or theft?
You won’t have to search very far to find some seriously compelling statistics on this subject. I wrote in another post recently that 58% of SMBs could not withstand any data loss whatsoever.
Consider, in addition, that data loss and downtime cost the UK £10.5 billion per year, according to this piece in TechWeek Europe, and one Gartner analyst has cited an hourly downtime cost, based on company size and type, of between $140,000 and $540,000 per hour!
4. Listen to pain points and tailor solutions. The MSP model has brought a flexibility to the sales process that previously didn’t exist – particularly when it is teamed with solutions delivered through the cloud that can be switched on and off and scaled up and down on demand.
In fact, the reality is that there are very few solutions you couldn’t offer in an MSP version to meet your customers’ varied needs. From endpoint security, to data backup and recovery, and of course much more, it’s all up for grabs – but you need to understand your customers’ pain points first!
As MSPAlliance recently put it, (my italics), "MSPs must become supremely comfortable interacting with customers on a business level. This means knowing the business of your customers and being able to ask questions and listen to what causes them pain. Once the pain point has been identified, a technical solution to it can be created."
5. Master the proposal process. It’s not only complex language that turns your MSP prospects off, it’s a sales proposal process that feels like it’s trying to funnel them into a one-size-fits-all solution, exacerbating their fear of the new and unknown.
The MSP model makes possible multiple alternative solutions in multiple combinations, so use them to give your customers a sense of choice and control. This isn’t break-fix-land, where every additional solution ratchets up the risk of an hourly-rate repair job, so don’t pitch it like it is!
For a superb, methodical sales proposal process that will help you to convincingly align solutions options with your MSP customers’ needs, check out this MSP blog post.
Get selling to your MSP customers!
I’ve said enough now – it’s your turn to evangelise! But remember, if you’re asking your customers to turn their back on the devil they know, they might need a little help understanding that MSP solutions could be their guardian angel…