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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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Why Should They Buy from You? What Robin Robins Taught Me about Unique Selling Propositions (USPs)

Posted August 5, 2015by Mary McCoy


So you provide proactive IT support and specialize in serving clinics and hospitals? Big fat deal - so do your competitors! What truly differentiates your managed IT services from the guy around the block? What do you do better than every other IT solutions provider in your area who's prospecting to the same audience? 

Last week, I attended the Robin Robins Producer's Club Q3 event in Nashville, Tennessee. Each session was filled with actionable tech marketing and business management strategies, like developing a targeted email campaign to close prospects and debriefing your quarter. While both of these agenda items were helpful, Robin's workshop on Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) was particularly relevant for growth-driven MSPs, especially as the market becomes increasingly saturated. Keep reading for top takeaways from the session!


Start with the Who, Not the What

This was one of the main points Robin stressed. In order to craft an iron-clad USP, MSPs have to understand who you're marketing and selling to. If you're expecting to approach your small-to-medium-sized clients with the mindset that they need what you're selling and that you just have to convince them to buy, you will not succeed. You have to start with the "who," not the "what." Switch your focus to asking:


What do people want to buy? (Not, "How can I get more people to buy what I have?")


In order to answer this question, you have to understand your target market. You can't develop a strong USP until you've done so. How can you gauge how your IT services and support helps prospects if you don't even know where they're hurting? 


6 key questions to ask yourself


In order to better understand your target market, you have to do some digging. Knowing that they don't have the time or resources to devote to managing their IT infrastructure is not enough to effectively market and sell to them. For a better prospect profile, ask yourself the following:

  1. Who is most likely to buy?
  2. What's their situation right now? Whose solution are they using/have used?
  3. Who makes the decision to buy what you sell, and how are these decisions made?
    • For instance, if a company's CEO passes off your pitch to a project manager, you need to make sure you have tailored messaging that appeals to each decision maker.
    • Consider the role councils and committees could play in the purchasing journey.
  4. What's the current market size of the market you're focused on?
    • If you're targeting CPAs, ask yourself how many attorneys are in your area?
  5. What is/are the first question(s) they ask themselves when looking to buy your services? Do they have any biases or misunderstandings about your business?
  6. What industry associations do they belong to? 
    • Make sure you join or follow them too!

I don't want to give away Robin's secret sauce so these are only a select few questions you can ask yourself. By no means should you stop there! Find out as much as you can about your target market, including where they get their news and content and the size of their digital footprint. 

Elements of a Strong USP

Once you have your client intel, it's time to process this data and determine how your managed IT services offering best supports the market need over other options. Robin insists that your USP must:


1. Be unique to you.

This is crucial if you want to get a leg up on the competition. Take a look at the websites for some of the MSPs and ITSPs in your area. They probably all say the same thing - deliver proactive IT support, offer network monitoring, yada yada. That's all great, but it's not unique. Why are your services better than your competition's? Focus instead on how you help, not what you do. Are you serving a niche or specializing in a vertical? Include it, but don't stop there...


2. Have meaningful specifics. 


The more specific your USP is, the more you'll be able to differentiate your services and highlight your value as the best MSP for your demographic. What are specifics you can include? Think about a specific, quantifiable business result or service level you can guarantee. A client will want to know that you'll be able to report and resolve issues quickly with minimum service disruption. It's much more compelling to say you handle service requests within four minutes and that each request gets resolved within six minutes, for instance. For all they know, when your competitors promise "speedy problem management" that could mean hours or days. 

 

3. Be relevant to your target market. 

This criteria is why it's so important to understand your target market before you define your USP. If you're serving dentist offices and medical practices, being able to say you have 100% HIPAA-trained staff is not only relevant, but a service differentiator. In this scenario, your audience is sensitive to HIPAA compliance regulations and wants to partner with an MSP they know they can trust with their patients' data. They will be more likely to buy your services because you have a fully compliant workforce that has navigated HIPAA complexities over the years. According to Robin, most people are looking for the least risky solution, not the best. Your USP should indicate why they can trust you to keep their data safe. 

 

4. Be defensible before the client buys. 


This one's important. You have to back up the claims in your USP with solid proof. Do NOT say you can guarantee a client 25% more bottom line if you have no history of KPI success that indicates this. Similarly, don't say you have twenty years of experience in IT if it's not true. Your prospects will look for verification. Imagine the impression it will make if they find you on LinkedIn and see that you've actually only been in the field for a third of that time. Your Service Level Agreements (SLAs) will set client expectations so they have to be realistic. 

At the same time, showcase your service delivery proof! Follow up your assurance that doctors will be able to see 20% more patients with a case study from a client in healthcare that supports this. This kind of content validates your USP and helps to solidify trust. With it, prospects know that your promises aren't just empty claims. 

Are you unsure how to get started with case studies? We walk you through the process of preparing and writing a case study and even offer a free template for you to download in


As you can see, one Robin Robins session packs a whole lot of MSP marketing punch! We're so excited that Robin will be blasting off with us to Navigate 2015, our user conference in Las Vegas! With fifteen years of experience in IT and the marketing consultant, sales trainer, and author that over 7000 MSPs, VARs and Solution Providers turn to for growing their marketing programs, Robin rounds out our roster of must-see keynote speakers.

Don't miss her speak - Register for Navigate 2015! | September 27-29

Webinar How To Use BDR Solutions To Attract High-Quality Clients, Boost Sales And Add Profitable Recurring Revenue Streams

 

Want more content from Robin?

 

Meet Mary! Mary McCoy is a Demand Generation Programs Manager at Continuum, where she's worked for over two years. Mary primarily manages the MSP Blog and has consulted with hundreds of partners, lending website, blog and social media support. Before that, she graduated from the University of Virginia (Wahoowa!) with a BA in Economics and served as digital marketing intern for Citi Performing Arts Center (Citi Center), spearheading the nonprofit’s #GivingTuesday social media campaign. Like her school’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, Mary believes learning never ends. She considers herself a passionate, lifelong student of content creation and inbound marketing.

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