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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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3 Core Arguments in the Case for Outsourced IT

Posted March 4, 2016by Jaq Baldwin

3 Core Arguments in the Case for Outsourced IT


As an MSP you'll encounter a variety of ways customers are employing IT support today. Some have existing IT staff and expect you to come alongside them to assist and act as an extension of their team. Some have always relied on outsourced IT, but are in the market for the kind of top-notch solution you can provide.

Still, many companies aren't as easily sold and weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing to a managed IT services practice versus hiring and staffing employees in-house. Here are three key arguments you can use to help prospects understand why outsourcing IT services in any capacity—like when used to augment existing staff—helps grow, scale and secure their businesses.

Please keep in mind that there will always be completely legitimate reasons to keep an in-house IT employee to perform those job duties that an MSP can't always fulfill. For example, some companies have cultures that demand support technicians be on staff and onsite five days a week, eight hours a day. Intimate knowledge of proprietary applications or specific line of business software may require devoted personnel. I've also found that a close relationship with an owner or CEO may mean nepotism keeps a key player in place for a very long time, despite any formidable reason to replace that individual. 

But if we're comparing outsourced IT to internal hiring on the most common denominator, the case is rather compelling for three main reasons: 

 

1. Manpower

Simply put, when you work with an MSP with a high level of operational maturity like the Managed Services team we have at Southern Data Solutions, you employ an entire team of engineers. In terms of availability and increased response times, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) will experience a much better remediation process when they have twelve engineers ready to respond to service requests, rather than one-to-three help desk individuals supporting an entire company staff. Having a "full bullpen" so to speak means illness, traffic, vacation days, or after hours and weekend support do not prevent our clients from receiving timely service. You should make sure that when your prospects compare you to their onsite IT employee(s), they realize the value of your proactive, predictable and preventative IT services. They may not have noticed they had a bandwidth issue until working with you. Constantly having to extinguish IT fires internally may have worked traditionally, but that is never a scalable business model. Your job is to convince them they need extra hands, without having to replace or hire additional members in their IT department. 

Also when it comes to the kind of manpower that retains and delights customers, a good MSP hires properly, has third party audits and certifications and manages their employees to maintain professionalism in all client dealings. That means they show up on time to take care of customer support requests.

 

2. Knowledge Base

We document all of our engineers' backgrounds, certifications and credentials, so that we can match the right engineer to the right problem. We keep that document up-to-date as more skills are added, our staff grows and talent is acquired. That means a variety of engineers with a variety of skill sets are able to quickly and efficiently take care of issues as they arise, and we are able to avoid potential road blocks associated with on-the-job training. Employing one or even three individuals to provide ongoing IT support means your prospect is limited to the breadth of expertise that can be accessed through only a few individuals. Make sure your prospects understand the downside of paying and equipping their IT personnel to research and train themselves in all skill areas required by your client base. Can they really afford to keep hiring or replacing people until all of their bases are covered?  

Which brings me to the last argument for outsourced IT...


3. Cost 

I like to sell on value, not price. But initiating conversation beyond the sticker on the window ploy means talking about the ROI of employing a team of knowledgeable engineers vs. a few individuals. Here are some points to hit on when discussing the cost justification of working with an outsourced IT company. 

First, hiring a managed IT services company means your prospects do business with a company and not individuals. By working with an MSP, your prospect won't have to onboard new employees through a costly training process, pay for their benefits, prevent turnover or worry about managing them properly. The cost of onboarding, training and keeping talent differs from company to company, but you should challenge your prospect to monetize that cost as accurately as they can and compare that to the relatively low cost of becoming your client.

If an engineer takes another job or for any other reason leaves our managed services team, we can quickly pick up the slack since we have a team of individuals to draw upon and an efficient hiring practice. On the other hand, if the sole IT technician or even one of three or four individuals leaves your prospect's company, a huge void is created. The client has to scramble to recover.  

Finally, the cost of outages, downtime and lack of support are riskier and can increase exponentially when a prospect relies on only a few individuals for support. Slower response times means dollars are lost with every passing minute. An operationally mature MSP with a reasonable service level agreement (SLA) will ensure loss of productivity and profitability is mitigated as much as possible and with a measurable standard. 

I hope these points are something you can reference next time you're talking to a prospect who is thinking about whether or not to hire your company or additional employees. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you've successfully overcome this objection as well. Leave a comment below!

MSP Guide to Managed Services SLAs  [white paper]

Jaq Baldwin is a Sales Professional at Southern Data Solutions in Alpharetta, Georgia. He loves working with his customers to provide IT solutions that reduce risk, cost, and liability while increasing productivity and better use of technology in the business world. He loves running, blogging, and watching terrible Sci-Fi movies late at night. Follow him @JaqTech, visit his blog Marathon Sales, or his company Southern Data Solutions to stay in touch.

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MSP Guide to Managed Services SLAs  [white paper]
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