The new way to look at managed IT services

| By:
Brad Schow

“How come our clients seem to be holding us to what feels like unrealistic expectations based on what they wanted to buy from us?”

It’s the age-old question managed service providers (MSPs) have been asking for years, and the mismatch is coming from a hidden difference between what services you’re really selling your clients—and what it is that clients think they’re buying. This is where the real risk begins. Anytime something goes wrong, your client will think that you, as their MSP, will be responsible for fixing it.

Now the real question is: how do you level set with what they think they’re paying for versus what they’re actually buying? You have to set expectations through value billing and look at managed IT services in a new way.

When a business enters a technical arrangement with an MSP, they have a right to know what they’re getting out of it. You aren’t responsible for fixing all of their problems, but your clients do need to have a clear understanding of what you are and aren’t accountable for.

How to look at managed IT services in a new way

It’s not about the technology

No one buys technology because they want the technology—that's never the end game for a buyer.

They have a need for that piece of technology because it’s a requirement for them to run their business, and that need will change with the updates and evolution of technology and the industry.

Many of our partners have achieved success using the assets we provide that help with value billing. When evaluating your clients’ needs, consider what this data brings to them that makes it worth paying for in their eyes.

Will the technology and services clients buy give them the result they think they’re buying?

The tricky thing about selling managed IT services to new clients is they’re unaware of the fact that they don’t know what their data needs are. Expressing that to a client can be extremely difficult. In today’s world, it’s no longer about needing a help desk. It’s about needing a particular outcome, and as the MSP, it’s your job to find the technology and services that will fulfill that need.

How do you do that? By bringing all of your value-prop conversations back to the data. Selling the value of your managed IT services is difficult because they don’t need to know the ins and outs of how you’re delivering what they want. Let your client advise and guide what they need out of your offerings, and from there, change the way you approach selling your services.

When it comes time to work on a proposal, don’t take the old-school approach and itemize the goods and services they’re purchasing from you. Whether it’s security, accessibility, or recoverability, outline what they’re buying and then build out the ways you’re planning to get them that outcome.

Ask questions from the get-go

Remember, ignorance is bliss. As the managed IT services provider, you will always be held accountable for what your client doesn’t know. Go to them with questions that help them understand that they don’t know as much as they think they do, like:

  • In your business right now, tell me about your end users and data. How are they using it, and what are they using it for?
  • Where do you want to get this data?
  • Where do you need to access it from?
  • How are we going to need to service your employees?
  • If people are going to work from home, are you going to move their data there?
  • Do you need to secure their home computers?

Most MSPs can agree that when prospects decide to schedule a meeting with you, it’s because they aren’t happy with their current offerings, and they don’t think they’re getting the results that they paid for. That unhappiness typically comes from their current technology provider going to market for a technology or service, and it’s underpriced for the value that they’re bringing to their client.

This is where your opportunity to make money in our industry presents itself—and it all starts with setting expectations based on outcomes.

Setting expectations based on outcomes

If you want to differentiate yourself in our industry, you have to sell them a data-centric, outcome-based solution. It’s the key to maturity and pricing yourself appropriately. If you’re bold enough to tell them it’s because their services were priced too low and data outcome results usually cost more money, they’re most likely going to be willing to pay that price.

Remember – at the end of the day, your client is looking for a model of data recoverability, accessibility, and security. Once you have their expectations in mind, you can sell them exactly what they need at an appropriate price and set a plan in action.