We’ve talked about overcoming the “Killer Objection” to managed services, but there is one another area we need to explain to customers: why desktops are different from the rest of their environment.
When we had a "cafeteria plan" of flat fee services, the pattern was very clear. Customers want server maintenance.
Server maintenance is clearly important. It's a server, so they can't do it themselves. So that's worth $350/month or whatever you charge.
And the network is important. Networks include routers and switches and printers (oh my!). They involve dealing with ISPs and VPNs and VOIPs. There are 802.11s and RJ45s involved. The ISO standard for networking has seven layers.
In other words, no one understands a network, so you have to be a genius to support it. That's worth $350/month.
But no one wants to support the desktop. No one thinks desktops are worth paying a flat fee for. And there are two primary reasons for this:
1) Customers actually believe they understand their desktop
After all, they live with it every day. When you're not around, they figure things out and make it work. They talk to other tech support people (Apple, Dell, Sprint, Adobe, Microsoft) in the middle of the night. They "learn stuff" from someone other than you.
They realize that non-professionals can figure out how to make a computer work. They might do it "wrong," but it still works. In other words, they think anyone out there with a mouse can figure out this stuff. So they don't need you.
They don't think about the fact that the 47 people they employ don't have any interest in figuring out any of this stuff. They've been hired to do data entry, manage prospects, do sales, process words, etc.
These people do their job very well, but they don't care as much about computers. To them, a computer guru is anyone who can replace a toner cartridge.
2) Customers don't have any idea how complicated they make their own desktops
My favorite challenging customer was a law firm filled with prima donnas. They had six line of business applications, each of which had to be at exactly the right patch level because otherwise they wouldn't work together. Every update had to be done simultaneously on 15 machines. Every desktop had to be identical after the update to what it looked like before. It took the best part of five hours of labor to do a new PC install.
But the guy signing the checks said, "I don't understand. You take it out of the box. You connect it to the network. And it works. Why are we being charged for five hours?"
I'm sorry. What you want takes five hours. Period. You just don’t understand what’s involved.
I can write a pretty good service agreement. But the lawyer wants to charge to check it over. So I pay. Why? Because I didn't graduate from law school. I know the limits of what I know.
I know what I don't know.
The bottom line is: The desktop is the most important connection between the user and the network. The customer understands the value of the network, but they don't get the value of the desktop.
But as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, telling the customer that they don't understand is not a good sales strategy.
You have a customer who thinks they're getting what they need because they're happy enough.
You've been given the Killer Objection (we're getting what we need) and you've provided a series of differentiating responses to make it clear that managing the desktops is very different from doing break/fix work.
At this point, one of two things can happen:
You only have one trick left: Price your managed services offering like cable TV.
In the US, cable companies have to make available a "basic" cable offering that is so limited that it deters many from buying it. Then, in order to add channels like HBO, you have to add "advanced cable" or “standard cable” or some package above basic cable.
The result? In a country of 370 million people, there are now approximately seven people subscribing to basic cable. And almost no one is subscribing to advanced cable by itself. People only subscribe to advanced cable so they can get HBO, the NBA package, the World Cup Package, etc.
So think: basic or advanced package. Or silver, gold, platinum.
The real, long-term answer is to work on a package that makes sense to customers. Eventually, you'll save them from some disaster, and the value of preventive maintenance will be clear. In the meantime, you need to make sure you provide visible value.
The day after a desktop disaster, you’ll hand your customer a bill for several hundred dollars. At that point, you tell them that monthly maintenance is only $60 (for example). Then they add the machine to managed service.
You also need to be personally convinced – and passionate – about the value of desktop support. If you're stammering and apologetic, the customer will pick up on that. Differentiate the product. Only speak in terms of the unique benefits of desktop managed service.
Here are a few things to read that will help you understand the topic of whether to cover desktops in a service agreement:
(Used with permission of Karl W. Palachuk, SmallBizThoughts.com)