Take a look at your business and how your customers perceive you. Do they consider you to be integral to their businesses, or are you just another expense item, tucked away under SG&A? Are your customers willing to pay top dollar for your services, or are they looking to go with the cheapest rate? Understanding where your customers fit you into their business plans tells you where you as an IT provider need to shift approaches.
I’ve discussed this before (and even doubled down on it at Schnizzfest this year), but the MSP model as you know it isn’t the future. The classic MSP model (the way your business is currently setup) wasn’t designed to prioritize and deliver outcomes. The only way you’ll survive in the coming years is by building strategic business relationships with customers. Following this action plan will separate you from your market’s competitors.
What’s A Strategic Business Relationship?
I bet you’re not involved with strategy, am I right? You’re more than likely removed from strategic conversations with your customers because they view you as an expense item. They categorize your services under SG&A, and that’s not where you want to be.
Build strategic business relationships with your customers. You do this by questioning them about their goals, challenges and opportunities. Sit down with your customers and understand how their businesses operate. They’re going to run their businesses differently, so don’t be afraid to press until you fully understand their business models.
You’re No Longer An MSP
You’re no longer an MSP; you’re a technology success provider (TSP). (I’ve mentioned this before in a previous blog post, I believe.) Think about everything strategically from now on. Customers now need higher level business services. TSPs have roles and policies solely dedicated to helping customers understand the business impact of their technology. This is where you as a TSP can provide customers with additional value.
Determine Where Customers Stand
I’m going to get more into this particular topic in another blog post, but I’ll briefly touch upon it here. Within the first few minutes of a first-time appointment (FTA), determine if a prospect has success potential. Remember: You’re interviewing the prospect, too. Ask yourself: Is this prospect placing my business into the functional area bucket or the expense bucket? Then go through the same exact process with your current customers.
You're going to close a lot of the deals where prospects see your business as a functional area (that's obvious, right?). Other prospects will consider you as an expense at first but may eventually reconsider. The ones who’ll never bring you into their inner circles, run.
If you think your customers are viewing your business as an expense item, they probably are. Develop strategic business relationships with your customers, and you’ll find more of your customers and prospects willing to pay top dollar for your services.