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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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Gartner Report: State of the CIO 2014 – What Kind of MSP Are You?

Posted February 25, 2014by Matt Waters

With the recent release of the State of the CIO 2014 Gartner report, it’s clear that CIOs are playing an increasingly important role in most companies... well, most of the time. Actually, the data shows that there are two types of CIOs these days: Game Changers and Cost Centers.

Here’s a quick breakdown of these two CIO personas:

  • Game Changer CIOs are viewed positively. These are the innovators, the driving force that positions a company’s IT department to really expand the business from its core. They’re viewed as peers by CEOs and CFOs, and are often consulted as major decision-makers within their organizations before new strategies are implemented.
  • Cost Center CIOs are viewed negatively. These CIOs are typically under pressure to finish projects quickly, slash expenses and simplify IT departments, always with an eye on budget control. Only 37% of Cost Center CIOs report directly to their CEO, while 64% of Game Changer CIOs say the same. Major decisions are more often made despite the vote of Cost Center CIOs rather than with their input.

What Kind of MSP Are You?

Just as CIOs fall into one of two perceptions, managed services providers (MSPs) are often separated into two distinct categories as well: Necessary Expenditure or Valued Partner. It’s clear which one is preferable, but how can you tell which one your customers think applies to you? More importantly, how can you make sure you’re seen as a valued partner?

To figure this out, ask yourself a question. Are you primarily:

A) Stuck fixing problems around the office or

B) Consulted as an industry expert and made a valuable member of the company?

If you answered A, you’re most likely viewed as a necessary expenditure.

There’s a big opportunity for managed services providers in the market, but many of them are stuck simply fixing systems for their clients. While this is a component of the service you deliver, there’s a whole lot more you can do. Companies need help strategizing when it comes to the IT solutions.

As a technology expert, there’s many ways you can help your clients save money through IT solutions – but they won’t see this if all you do for them is repair their broken devices.

How to Be The Right Kind of MSP

MSPs are uniquely positioned to bring true value to a business; the trick lies in ensuring that your customers recognize that potential as well. If your clients see you as just another bill that needs to be paid, then it’s critical to make a concentrated effort to position yourself differently:

  • Be clear about the benefits of managed IT services. Make sure they understand exactly what value you’re delivering to them and the money you are saving them.
  • Offer specific ways that your MSP can promote growth. Be proactive and present them with opportunities for them to grow and utilize new technologies. Don’t go too far and sell them services that you don’t truly understand, but it is important to identify opportunities and find ways to take advantage. Can you help them migrate to the cloud? Would server virtualization help them become more efficient? Don’t wait for them to ask – go out and find opportunities for them, because it results in opportunities for you.
  • Show off your expertise. We’ve provided some tips for how to market to new prospects and win new customers. However, many of your clients will most likely come back to your site and check out your marketing materials. If you’ve done a good job broadcasting your expertise online, this will make your clients feel more confident in your services and help with client retention.

MSPs can no longer survive as repairmen anymore. You need to become the mechanical engineer who designs the systems, not just be there to fix them when they break.

Don’t let yourself get stuck in outdated routines. As technology advances, businesses will rely more and more on MSPs as a trusted technology partner. It’s up to the MSP to present itself as a technology expert and valuable team member. If you fail to do so, your clients will simply find someone who is.

It’s much easier for a client to cut an expense than let go of a valuable member of their team. Build trust with your clients and make sure they know exactly what you do for them each month. This will go a long way in helping you keep clients, earn referrals and grow your managed services business.


Download the Managed IT Services Sales Imperative White Paper

Having been with Continuum since 2011, and currently overseeing our Partner Development and Channel Development teams, Matthew understands the pricing struggle and has worked firsthand with partners to overcome it and grow their profitability.

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