Providing your clients with vCIO (virtual Chief Information Officer) services is a great way to build long-term partnerships and deliver strategic IT direction that will help customers achieve their business goals.
For most small to mid-sized businesses, having a Chief Information Officer is essential, but a C-suite level salary is likely not in their budgets. Instead, these companies outsource the vCIO role to an IT service provider. That provider performs all the functions a CIO would, including:
- Directing IT strategy
- Creating IT budgets
- Implementing and upgrading IT systems
- Reviewing and reporting on IT department performance
Unfortunately, MSPs that claim to offer vCIO services often miss the mark on providing this strategic direction for their clients. Find out how providing vCIO services the right way could help your MSP increase profits and generate more monthly recurring revenue.
MSP Market Maturity
To understand how vCIO servicesaffect your MSP’s value, you need to understand the state of the MSP marketplace.
All MSPs have access to the same technology. Cloud services aren’t a differentiator anymore, because cloud prices are falling, giving everyone access to this offering. To a prospect, every MSP starts to sound the same. If you’re offering the same solutions as your competition, at a higher price, it becomes more difficult to close deals.
The gap between average MSPs and World Class MSPs is widening. World Class MSPs are charging more, while using the same technology that average MSPs are utilizing. The key to differentiating yourself from the competition and charging higher prices is the value you provide as a vCIO by becoming a strategic partner.
Are You A vCIO Or A vCO?
Offering strategic vCIO services has the potential to catapult your MSP to World Class status. Though many MSPs offer vCIO services, most aren’t offering this service the right way. Instead, they’re only a vCO – a virtual captain obvious!
It’s easy to offer advice, but more difficult to offer strategic direction. If you’re offering advice like “your servers are old, so you should replace them,” you’re not providing clients with strategic direction. That is a conclusion they could have arrived at on their own.
Here are two ways to tell if you’re offering vCO services instead of the vCIO services that a World Class MSP provides:
- Unless you’re meeting with decision makers at your clients’ companies, you have little input with the C-suite or others at the top. Make sure you’re meeting with the C-suite, and functioning as a valuable business resource. If you’re meeting with a point-of-contact, such as an office manager or IT manager, you’re a technical resource.
- Your meetings focus on the basics. Whether you’re meeting with your clients monthly or quarterly, the content of the meeting tells you a lot about where you stand with the client. If you’re discussing the basics, such as ticket reports, patch status reports or licensing renewals, you’re not offering strategic guidance. Instead, your meetings should provide strategic direction for how IT services could have a positive impact on their business.
The Value Of A True vCIO
A valuable vCIO moves from being a technical resource to becoming a strategic business partner, building relationships with clients and providing strategic direction.
The foundation for vCIO services is an understanding of your clients’ businesses. To get a more comprehensive view of how your IT services support their business, talk to clients about these areas:
- Business goals
- Core values
- Competitive advantages
- Market positions
- Profit margins
With a better understanding of these areas, you’re prepared to provide strategic IT direction in the context of each client’s business. When you deliver informed strategic direction, you’ll be able to leverage your strategic support for higher prices, therefore, increasing your own revenue.