Cost justifying your proposals, Part II – Turning tools into weapons

Mike Schmidtmann

Many MSP proposals are boring and ineffective. Filled with industry jargon and eye-glazing detail, they practically dare the customer to wait and “think about it”.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Your MSP proposal can be compelling, persuasive, and most importantly, motivating for action.

In my last blog “Creating Compelling Cost Justifications”, we looked at three bedrock concepts:

  • Always compare your solution to something more expensive
  • Reduce large numbers to small monthly payments
  • Expand small increments of time savings into large man-hours and FTEs

In this article, we’ll add three more persuasive techniques.

The I-U Ratio

Most proposals prattle on about the company, the offer, the tools, the technicians, the certifications, the NOC, etc. This is all about “I”, the creator of the proposal.

Unfortunately, most customers couldn’t care less how wonderful you are. As you describe (in excruciating detail) your Silver, Gold, and Platinum service plans, they are mentally scanning the room for escape routes and wondering if there’s a nearby pencil they can jab in their eye.

The only thing the customer can and should care about is the “U”, which is what they will gain from your solution. Don’t talk about your wonderful “precious metal” plans, talk about:

  • The time savings the customer will gain
  • The disasters they will avoid
  • The lazy employees they won’t need to manage
  • The patches, updates, and backups they won’t need to worry about


“Let me Tell You about my Precious Metals”

This is called “Outcomes-based” selling, where you speak only about the wonderful transformation your customer will gain by contracting for your Managed Services. In short, make sure the “I-U” ratio is mostly about the customer, the “U”.

The Gretzky Principle

The second important step is to talk about the future. Contrast the pain, suffering, and risk of continuing the customer’s current path with the safety, peace of mind, and security of going with your solution.


As Wayne Gretzky famously (above) said “I don’t skate where the puck is. I skate where the puck is going to be”.

If the customer thinks IT expenses are high now, look what they are going to be:

  • Will tech talent cost more or less in the future?
  • Will monitoring and diagnostic tools cost more or less in the future?
  • Will software applications be more or less complex in the future?
  • Will networking and communications be more or less complex in the future?
  • Will Malware and Security threats be more or less frequent in the future?

This is where you turn your Monitoring and Diagnostic tools into weapons. Only the largest IT departments can afford to purchase and deploy all the latest software and hardware tools. If they don’t have all the tools, they are putting their mission-critical network at risk.

Of course, your customers won’t need to continue these costly expenses, because you will take care of it for them. Don’t just talk about the present, talk about the future.

One Last Persuasive Tip

One last bonus tip for good measure. Be aware of the terms you use in your proposal, and make sure they are persuasive for your solution:

  • Your customers are always “paying”, “buying”, and “risking” when they manage their own networks. Use the terms “expenses” and “costs” when they do it themselves.
  • When they work with you, they are “securing”, “protecting”, and “investing” in their network.

Make sure to make this stark contrast: “Costly Spending vs. Secure Investment.” Which alternative makes more sense?