Managed Service Providers Selling Drills, While Business Owners Buy Holes

Many articles about sales and marketing share the famous quote from Harvard professor Theodore Levitt: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter-inch hole.” The quote illustrates that people are looking for solutions to their problems, not products.

Yet, marketers keep selling drills. Going deep into the details of the way the drill operates. While details may appeal to the professionals, they can quickly imagine how long it will take for them to drill holes knowing the power of the drill; many regular consumers would prefer to see the time it would take to drill a hole in the wall of their house. That is why the iPod had a “thousand songs in your pocket” message for the consumers, while professionals would understand the capacity in GBs at the time.

MSPs are notorious for selling their services. Talking about the servers and networks, backup and security agents they will install to make the IT infrastructure reliable. It makes sense for a professional, and it is comfortable for an MSP to discuss it. Yet, for a business owner, it does not make much sense. They care about making sure everything works, and if something does not work — it is being quickly fixed.

Only some business owners want to hear the details of the tools MSPs use or the network architecture they will implement. Most will want to know how much it will take to fix broken things, and they want to be assured that things won’t get broken often.

Some MSPs tend to oversell their expertise, talking in abbreviations of their certifications, technologies they know, and scripting languages they use. Most of it sounds like gibberish for most of the business owners. “We do the IT so that you can do your business, and we are capable of doing it” — this is what they want to hear.

Therefore, an effective pitch starts by talking about the problems that the business owner is facing and explaining the solutions in terms that they understand. The technical details may follow as needed, yet it needs to make more sense to lecture business owners on technology.

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