If you are looking for ways to succeed as an MSP, there is plenty advice available to help you in your endeavor. While it is important to know what you should be doing to position your company for growth, you should also know what mistakes to avoid that can put your business on the fast track to failure. Here we look at five common mistakes made by Managed Service Providers that limit their opportunities for success.
- Selling expertise you lack – This can be chalked up to common sense, yet many Managed Service Providers are so eager to bring in new clients they end up making promises they cannot possibly keep. Focus your sales approach on services, solutions and technologies which you have the expertise to support. The latest trend in technology may bring in more clients, however if you cannot integrate that technology into their business, you are selling your clients and yourself short.
- Having a one-size fits all mentality – This is especially true for VARs that have made the switch to the Managed Services model. Although the client structure might remain the same, you cannot simply shift your focus and assume things will fall into place. You are no longer providing a product only, but rather a relationship that requires a long-term commitment. You must be able to work closely with each client and provide customized services and solutions that meet their individual needs.
- Not being on top of the game – You cannot keep clients happy if you allow them to spot problems in the relationship. This is not a "set it and forget it" type of business. You must monitor your services closely to ensure everything is working as promised and as expected. Otherwise if you wait until your client notices a problem, you will have damaged the relationship by causing them to question your ability to provide the services they need to operate smoothly.
- Selling products versus relationships – When you sell a product you focus on the technology and performance of the product to date. You might push the reputation of the manufacturer. All of this is good when you are selling only a product, however Managed Service Providers sell much more than technology. You must also sell the reliability of your organization and the expertise of your staff. Your client must know that you are able and willing to use the technology in a way that will help pre-empt problems or help rectify those that occur expeditiously along the way.
- Simplified monitoring – Your clients count on you to keep their business up and running. In many cases, the entire point of engaging a Managed Service Provider is to eliminate the need for the business owner, manager or staff to deal with common problems. Successful Managed Service Providers use extensive proactive processes and tools to maintain service and business continuity, as opposed to those that offer "monitoring only" services that identify a problem and simply report it to the client. A robust monitoring and maintenance service will uncover opportunities to either improve your clients' businesses or rectify problems before they impact system and service availability.
Managed Service Providers are not unlike most other businesses in that they must provide their services as promised. The increased effort you put forth to set yourself apart from your competitors will be rewarded with long-term clients who count on you to keep their businesses operating at maximum efficiency.