Positioning the Value of Managed Services to Prospects and Customers

An active reader, “How can my MSP compete on value when I don’t know what prospects want?” He elaborated that endless conversations about the customers’ needs lead him nowhere. Customers and prospects share ideas on what they would like to receive as services from their IT-managed service provider and then… don’t pay for them or choose another provider offering a lower price.

True, it is easier to know what people want once they pay for it and prove they want it. Until they pay for it, they just share ideas on something they would like to have (read “good to have, maybe”). Not until they take money out of their pockets and have other priorities.

Here is another way of thinking about the services to provide. Start not from what people want but what they don’t want to do. It is usually easier to identify and easier to sell to customers.

What do business owners want to avoid doing?

Most MSPs would quickly respond to the question. Business owners don’t want to spend time on something that is not their core business. They don’t want to spend time dealing with their IT; they want everything to work so they don’t even have to know what their MSPs are doing.

It is so. That is why they are hiring MSPs to manage their IT. Yet, to understand what and how to offer them, we need to go deeper into their needs and business needs to identify their pain points with their MSPs.

Below is the list of everyday things I heard from the business owners when I asked them about their pains while working with IT providers. Addressing their pains is the way to pitch value to them.

  • They don’t want to pay for services they don’t need. Often, it is not that they don’t need the services; they don’t understand the benefits. If they have EDR deployed to improve their security, yet they think Windows Defender is more than enough, it would require explaining to them that having the additional layer of protection helps them avoid the risk of dealing with infrastructure that does not work or a security breach that could kill their business.
  • They don’t want to learn about the issues when it is too late. Lack of timely or clear communication leads to wasted time and frustration. Owners don’t want to worry about something that may happen, and lack of communication makes them wonder if something terrible may happen. Regular reports, scheduled reviews or email updates give business owners some predictability.
  • They don’t want to call MSPs for support. Nobody wants to see things break, but even more to that — spending time explaining what has happened, waiting for the fix, and losing productivity is a pain for business owners. Having proactive monitoring and prevention of issues in place helps to alleviate the pain.
  • They don’t want to waste time because IT doesn’t work or their computers’ performance is slow. Remote fixes, updates and upgrades outside of working hours minimize the impact on people’s productivity. Scheduling backups and complete security scans outside working hours is also a good practice.
  • They don’t want to waste time working with inefficient applications. For instance, having multiple productivity applications that are not integrated may be frustrating, and switching to a platform like Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, or Slack with integration of the business applications can alleviate their pain.
  • They don’t want unpredictable service levels. Suppose a response to a critical issue takes minutes one day and hours another, and there is no way to get support outside of working hours. In that case, business owners tend to be unhappy about the inconsistency, even more than the issues.

Looking at the list of the pains, you can build the offering and the pitch to sell that offering to the customers — addressing things they don’t want to do by offering them ways to avoid them.

One single main point

The list above is long; many business owners can detail their grievances with MSPs for hours. Yet, when I ask them bluntly what is the one single pain they have from working with MSPs, not all of the small details — many say, “We don’t want to spend time teaching MSPs about my business.”

MSPs understanding their customers’ business can be the most critical value they can bring to their customers.

An MSP that understands the business can offer solutions and address the pains. Knowing, for example, what a typical dental office needs and offering them the services, software, expertise, and SLAs they need can be the best value that MSPs can provide to their customers.

With an understanding of the business of your customers and prospects, you can build your portfolio of services and products and pitch it most effectively. Therefore, defining who your customers are and focusing on them is essential; being everything for everybody is never a sustainable strategy.

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