In a recent webinar for the MSP Institute, Ray Djuneadi, account executive for SolarWinds MSP, set out to look at what methods managed service providers (MSPs) can use to generate interest from prospects, with the ultimate goal of helping you identify a marketing plan for your business.
To be able to do this, we need to look at the different levels of service offerings provided by MSPs to get a better insight into how to qualify customers, and to understand who exactly we're selling to. As people purchase on perceived value, the messaging and how to present the value of the different service offerings is crucial to communicating the full value of what you offer. (For more background, check out the webinar, Today's most successful MSP programs.)
Here’s a brief explanation of some characteristics of the different service models:
This is a customer-initiated model. It's built based on time and materials, whether it's ad hoc or block hours. It doesn't have a commitment on the customer's end, so they'll call you if they have issues. If you're not available at some point and they have an emergency, they might call somebody else.
This consists of a menu of services focused on solving single problems. You're selling all the different services individually. It is under some form of contract, and you are generating some recurring revenue. It's invoiced by the number of devices you’re managing, and it does create some loyalty around some of the reactive work. As you already have a billing and technical relationship with the customer, they're more likely to reach out to you if they have other problems.
This is where you start getting into a checklist of preventative maintenance tasks. It’s where your true managed service models begin. The proactive model is designed to reduce the likelihood and frequency of IT issues and downtime through preventative maintenance and some more performance monitoring. However, everything outside of the checklist is billed hourly.
The last model is your fully managed model. This is your “all-you-can-eat service,” where your customers are fully outsourcing their IT services to you. It's designed to take ownership of the customer's network, including preventative maintenance, and advanced monitoring, and it includes unlimited support of the day-to-day IT operations.
Understanding these models will help you determine who you're selling to and how they view IT services. All IT service customers do have some shared characteristics: They're all in some shape or form reliant on technology; most of them are going to be non-technical buyers, so they’re more interested in the business benefits of any service; and they usually don't have an IT staff.
However, where they differ is in their mentality toward the cost of downtime, their sensitivity to security, and just how they feel on spending on IT. Do they treat it as an expense? Do they look at it as a miscellaneous expense, and neglect to budget for it, or do they look at it as an investment and something that's going to help benefit their business, and help them be more competitive and profitable?
Let's say your customer says they are not ready to invest in IT. What about antivirus? “I manage my own antivirus, and my employees do their own patches,” comes the reply. They don't see the value in IT. They're trying to keep IT costs at a bare minimum. That's going to be somebody that's a great fit for a break/fix or block-hour customer—which is still a lot of customers in the market, despite the growth within the managed service industry.
If you have customers who say they only want to buy what they need right now, e.g.they want to pick and choose which items they feel they need, they're going to be a great fit for the à la carte model, where you can sell the services individually. Keep in mind this may not be their actual need, it's what they perceive they need or want, so they only want to buy what they think they need right now.
Then you may have a customer who needs their network up and running, and knows there's a high cost of downtime for them. These people will see the value in IT and understand the cost of downtime is higher than the costs of your services. They’re great for a proactive solution.
Finally, you have the customer who already understands the value of IT, just like the proactive one, but they really want to be able to budget for your services. That's one of their number one priorities. They want a fixed and predictable monthly cost.
So when you're taking them through the sales process, look at these profiles and tailor your messaging to them. Ultimately, if you want to win more customers, make sure you have the right solution for the right customers so you have alignment. You want to ensure the solution makes sense for you and makes sense for them—so both parties want to participate in doing business together. If you don’t have that alignment, they'll go somewhere else, or you might actually not want to do business with that customer because they don't fit your model.
Listen to the webinar below, and we’ll guide you through how to create your program messaging and how to communicate the value of the different programs to your prospects.
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