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Note to MSPs: Be a Car Manufacturer, Not a Parts Dealer

Posted January 3, 2017by Ray Vrabel

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Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? In managed IT services, absolutely.

Let’s say I just started my own business as a traveling salesman. In order to power my business, I need to invest in a mode of transportation. Assuming I’m staying local, to travel from point A to point B, I decide to buy a car. Now, rather than purchase wheels, an engine, pedals and all other parts required to assemble an automobile, wouldn't it just be smarter to leave that to the professionals and drive the fully-built car off the lot hassle-free? 

Here's what I need:

car-solution

 

Here's what I do NOT need:

car_parts-solution

 

MSPs Must Sell a Solution

The same way that I need a car for my business to exist, almost every company needs IT solutions for their company to operate. However, it’s more than just supplying them with the tools. It’s about making all of the pieces work for them in the way that they need them to.

Businesses just want to hit the gas pedal and start moving forward. They don’t want to spend time building the whole automobile.

This is what MSPs need to understand, that they are selling a solution to a client’s problem, not just the pieces needed to make the solution. The true value that you deliver as an MSP is putting everything together and making it work in the most efficient way possible. However, this isn’t as simple as just rolling cars off of an assembly line. You must work to understand your client’s needs, goals and objectives, and provide them with a solution that fits their business.

Going back to the car analogy, consider the following questions you might need to ask when determining which automobile is best for your business: 

  • If I need to sell construction ladders, would a Prius or F-150 be a better option?
  • What if I needed extra towing power, would I need a larger, custom transmission?
  • Would I be better off buying a powerful car or a more fuel-efficient car?
  • What if I start making hires and my team needs different vehicles?

Your answers to each of these questions would influence what car you'd choose. And these answers would differ from others requiring transportation. Figure out which questions you need to ask your target audience. Then, craft and differentiate your sales strategy around how each would respond. Perhaps you need to position your business continuity solution. Ask any of these ten discovery questions when selling BDR!  

Understanding Your Role

To scale back our analogy a little, you don’t need to be the full car manufacturer, meaning you don’t need to engineer, develop and build all of your IT solution pieces yourself. There are many companies that provide IT management technologies and claim to have 2017's best remote monitoring and management (RMM) software, BDR, mobile device management (MDM), endpoint security and more. But you do need to know how to put these pieces together and how to customize the pieces and your solutions for clients.

When it comes to IT solutions, many business owners don’t know where to begin. They trust their MSP to possess the expertise and steer them in the right direction. For this reason, you should lead with the business benefit of your wholistic solution, rather than the individual features included. For the most part, the small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) you pitch to won't care about or even understand how your antivirus detects threats, why continuous data protection is best for backups or how your RMM has built-in alerting conditions. They just want to know that your IT management solution and services secure their data and keep them online and profitable 24x7x365. Remember this when messaging and selling your technology stack. 

Making the Pieces Fit Together

When deciding on the optimal offering for your clients, there are many different managed services platforms for you to choose from. Each platform will have its own benefits and strengths, but it’s important to understand how all of these pieces fit and work together to create a synergistic effect.

Would it make sense to replace the engine of a Ford F-150 with the engine of a Toyota Camry? Would the car even work? It’s not always just choosing the best platform for each component of your client’s IT strategy, but also understanding how these components work together. Choosing many different platforms and "Frankensteining" a patchworked stack can be dangerous and lead to long-term issues.

A car manufacturer’s individual parts are designed to all work with each other to create operational efficiency. Identify these same opportunities in the platforms you choose to provide IT solutions to your clients.

Final Thought

Ultimately, SMBs just need their technology systems to work so that they can focus on their daily business operations. They’re not interested in building or setting up their IT systems. They trust MSPs to provide the solution to their needs as a packaged deal that’s ready for them to use. When marketing and selling your managed IT services, emphasize the value of this solution and position it in the way that will most resonate with individual businesses.   

In short, in order for you to be successful as an MSP, understand that you’re selling a car, not a collection of its parts. 

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Ray Vrabel is Continuum's Director of Technical Account Management and participates in product and service growth initiatives, and also manages Continuum's Technical Account Management team, which supports over 3,500 partners worldwide. Prior to Continuum, Ray joined Zenith Infotech in 2005 and held several positions including Service Desk Manager, Sr. Technical Account Manager and Sr. Manager of Service Operations. He currently has over 15 years of experience in the IT industry, specializing in Managed Services, Disaster Recovery, and Cloud Solutions. Prior to Continuum and Zenith, Ray worked at ANH Refractories, a world-class provider of Refractories products, in their Service Desk Department supporting 53 locations and 1,500 employees. Ray also worked for a startup venture at Body Media a pioneer in wearable body monitoring systems as a technical lead in their Technical Customer Support Department. Ray holds a Bachelors of Science in Business Technology Support and Training from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.


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