Attending a local IT Solution Provider User Group meeting the other day, I was demonstrating my new notebook computer to a few of my peers.
The notebook was responsive, it was fast, and, I explained to the group, it enabled me to get my work done more efficiently.
“What CPU is it using?” a IT business owner asked me. I suddenly realized that I had no idea. I hadn’t bought the notebook computer based on its features, only on the benefits it brought to me.
While my geek pride may have been dented by my lack of technical knowledge, it highlighted an important difference in the way technicians think to the way business owners think - and why your MSP should sell benefits and not features.
Many of us were Technicians long before we became IT business owners, and it’s still hard to resist the pull of playing IT “Top Trumps” with servers, smartphones, tablets and laptops. While questions such as “What CPU does it run?”, “How much memory does it have?” and “What amount of storage does it have?” are important questions to us as Technicians, for the vast majority of business owners they are irrelevant. What a business owner wants to know is “How will it benefit me?”.
As the owner or salesman (or in many cases, both) for your Managed Service Provider (MSP) it’s important to realize this difference and often you need to suppress the urge to talk about features.
For example, take the conversation with a prospective client who is interested in a new Managed Service contract. While it may tickle your inner-geek to talk about disk defragmentation, automated patching and S.M.A.R.T. disk monitoring - doing so actually makes your offering easily comparable with other businesses. A “side-by-side” comparison of a checkbox list of your MSP offering and another companies offering may not be making a fair comparison, but rest assured that many a client will do just this.
If you allow them to, clients will compare “Apples with Oranges” and come to their own conclusion over which service offers the most benefit.
I see this approach from Web Hosting companies all the time. Advertising their packages based on bandwidth, Gigabytes of disk space provided and e-commerce plug-in’s means that potential buyers naturally start comparing the packages on offer from lots of web hosting companies.
Compare this to the web hosting company that leads with the benefits, not the features, and talks about how they specialize in WordPress hosting, uptime, and super-fast support to help you solve any problems quickly, and you’re talking benefits that are much easier to understand and much harder to compare.
It’s not un-common to be a little unclear about the benefits you offer. While many of us think of Managed Services in terms of 24x7x365 Monitoring and Maintenance, “All You Can Eat” Helpdesk, and Vendor Management - what does this actually mean for a business owner?
Try this exercise to enable you to become better versed with the benefits of your service. Grab a piece of paper, write down all the features of your Managed Service offering - automated patching, Disk Defragmentation, 24x7x365 Monitoring - and then in the next column describe the benefit this service brings to your client.
So for the feature “Automated Patching” - the benefit might be “Peace of mind that your servers and workstations are secure”, “Always have the latest features available to you” and “No more being nagged/interrupted by the little Yellow Shield in Windows”.
For the feature “Disk Defragmentation” - the benefit might be “Your computers running as fast as they can, with no irritating lags”.
And so on.
By the end of the exercise you’ll have a ton of benefits that are of real interest to a client.
The next time you go to a sales meeting, resist the urge to talk about the features of your Managed Service offering, and instead talk about the benefits it brings. I can tell you that you’ll notice a marked difference in the way your prospect reacts to the conversation.
With all this said, I’m not talking about ignoring or hiding features here - clients will often ask you for server specs, or feature breakdowns, and you should share these details if requested.
But if you lead the conversation based on benefits and not features, you’re much less likely to encounter problems with clients comparing Apples with Oranges.
As the former owner of an award winning IT Managed Service Provider, Richard Tubb works with MSPs to help them increase sales, take on employees and build up relationships with key industry contacts. You don't have to do it alone any more - contact Richard and have a chat about your needs and how he can help you.