Posts Tagged advertising

How To Set Your MSP Business Apart From The Others

IStock_000002312272Medium Each industry has their own leaders and businesses that stand out from the pack.   As businesses continue to struggle with the results of the recession, providing quality service and support alone may not be enough to secure future business.  Your potential clients are looking for the best in the business, specifically – a Managed Services Provider that not only has expertise within the industry, but also the ability to bring something unique to the client's company – business acumen.  At a time when many IT providers are trying to recover from clients that have gone out of business with few new customers on the books to replace that business, now is the time to focus on how you will attract and retain new business in the future. 

Think Outside The MSP Box

As with all other industries, it is important that you stay on top of what is going on in the industry and with your competitors.  While it is important to network with other MSPs and VARs to learn what is new in the industry and build important business relationships – it is equally important to network outside of the MSP industry.  You know your business, now you have to learn about the businesses you will provide services for in the future.  Visit your local chamber of commerce and attend events outside of the industry to see what small business owners are looking for from their perspective.  By thinking outside the MSP box you open yourself to new ideas and issues that your company can address, setting you apart from other MSPs who focus solely within their own comfort zone.  

Give Your Clients What They Need

All businesses need to meet the needs of their clients, however when it comes to technology it is often more important how you present your services versus the actual services.  For example, your client may want to understand the technology, but in reality they know they have neither the time or energy to devote to learning that technology.  That is why they are considering your services.  Your clients will more than likely want information about the products you will be using, however it is important to focus their attention on the services you will provide and how these will benefit their business.  Remember to focus your conversations on business outcomes your services can provide your clients such as cost savings, increased sales and risk reduction, differentiating yourself from other providers focused on only incident or project outcomes. Clients are willing to pay for these benefits, therefore understanding and meeting their needs will set you apart from other providers that might be focused strongly on selling products through transactional relationships, or break-fix services, rather than meeting the unique business needs of each client.

Measure Your Progress

Once you have sold your services to a client, it is important to constantly monitor your progress and client feedback to ensure their changing needs are met.  They are trusting you to make sure they have the services needed to keep their business running smoothly.  By offering personalized service at the startand maintaining a constant vigil to ensure your services are the best in the business, you are providing the ultimate MSP experience for your clients.

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Erick Simpson 
MSP University
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Posted in: General Business

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Be Realistic About Cross-Referrals

Gesture_06 As you build your business, you naturally explore different avenues of networking for new opportunities. One such source is the cross-referral. Cross-referrals are strategic agreements, whether formal or informal, between companies serving like markets to trade their clients’ contact information to the other for marketing their complimentary products or services.

For instance, web designers may build referral resources from freelance writers, marketing and branding companies or web developers and other businesses that do things that the designers don't, but offer complimentary services to their end-customers. Cross-referrals are a great way to use free, word of mouth advertising though referral agreements may not always be free. There will be some arrangements where a commission can be earned based on a prearranged percentage or a flat-rate referral fee; but many startups are happy to give free referrals in return for the same courtesy.

While these referral arrangements may seem like promotional gold, you cannot always rely on other companies to sell you to their customers. There may never be more than a passing comment made to the occasional client. If you are relying heavily on referrals from others, you need to make a change in your approach. While paid referral agreements may offer more of an incentive, it is your responsibility to provide your referral sources with adequate materials to help them promote your business.

Some ideas include:

  • Professional-looking brochures and business cards that contain your website, contact information, and a blurb about your services or products
  • If the situation warrants, you can regularly provide referral sources with discount offers and coupons they can pass along to their own clients that are exclusive to referral clients or customers
  • Promotional items such as pens and magnets that can be passed along to others

Say Thanks
When the referrals do begin to come in, make sure your cross-referring business partners know how much you appreciate them. Courtesy thank you notes are crucial after referrals made bring you business. Keep a stack of personalized thank you cards to drop in the mail after a referral pans out. You may consider a small gift basket of cookies or snacks to say thanks from time to time. A nice lunch meeting can also help reinforce your gratitude for the referral assistance.

Referrals Aren't For Everyone
Don't expect everyone to be open to engaging in free referrals. You can quickly become tiresome to others if you are constantly asking for help in getting business. You should have a strong marketing system in place, so that you aren’t relying exclusively on referrals for new business, making any referral that comes in icing on the cake. It is good practice to touch base with your cross-referring sources to keep them up to date on what is new with your business. Remember – it's a two way street, and you should be working as hard to make referrals to your cross-referring business partners as you expect them to in exchange. The more often you make referrals, the more likely the favor will be returned.

Don't Forget Your Clients
One of your biggest resources for referrals may not be from other businesses. In fact, it is your clients’ praise that will warrant consistent word of mouth advertising for you. This is one of the reasons that excellent customer service is vital to your referral success. Clients who have consistently had a good experience with your company will be more than willing to spread the word to others who are in need of your product or service. While there is no obligation to reward these acts, you might provide something in return for their advertising on your behalf. The better you take care of the clients you already have, the more likely you are to expand your client base. For those clients who are particularly good to you, a token of appreciation like a gift basked of cookies or treats sometimes goes a longer way than a discount on a service or a referral commission, and it humanizes the relationship between you beyond a business one..

Referrals can be a great source of business for you, especially when you are just getting started. You cannot expect everyone to cooperate, but you certainly cannot be a wallflower when approaching the situation. Be direct but flexible – and always offer to return the favor.

Attend MSP University's next Boot Camp for FREE!

Erick Simpson
MSP University
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Managed Services

Posted in: Marketing

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