The majority of today’s successful managed service providers (MSPs) in the SMB space not only offer their customers IT support and consultancy, but also a raft of solutions meant to support their businesses on a day-to-day basis.
These solutions can be purchased from a number of different IT providers. A typical MSP’s “solution stack” might include:
- Mail protection and archiving
- Managed Broadband Internet
- Managed Antivirus
- Web protection
- Remote support
- Backup and Disaster Recovery
Offering such products can help demonstrate value to your customers, and increase recurring revenue for you—but the question often arises, if every MSP is offering these services, then how can I differentiate myself from all the rest?
You’re more different than you think
Firstly, the reality is that every MSP isn’t offering these services.
You’d be surprised at the large number of MSPs that leave their customers to source their own broadband and antivirus, and in doing so miss out on the opportunity to lower their support costs and increase their own recurring revenue by offering these services themselves.
By offering all these solutions under one roof, you’re already demonstrating to your customer that you’ve thought about what’s important to their business and have tried-and-tested solutions that can help them.
Visit any IT company’s website and you’ll find a raft of IT vendor badges: Microsoft, Symantec, Sophos—and many more. IT companies love badges.
But here’s a secret… customers couldn’t care less about them.
For the most part, customers aren’t bothered about what antivirus you are using within their business. They just want to know their computers are protected, and they’ll trust you as the MSP to provide them with the right tools to do that.
So there’s an opportunity here for you to brand your services, and instead of talking about vendor-promoted features that help a customer’s eyes to glaze over—you can talk to your customer about the business benefits of YOUR solution.
Create Your Own Brand
My own MSP offered services in this way. We branded all of our services. Netlink Defender was our mail filtering product. Netlink Connect was our managed broadband. Netlink Safe was our off-site backup, and Netlink Safe BDR was our disaster recovery solution.
There are numerous values to branding solutions in this way. As well as promoting your own brand to your customers, and therefore increasing your stickiness with that customer, you’re wrapping what was a commodity service with your own value proposition. Customers don’t simply buy a Mail Security tool from you, they buy your own researched and unique package of mail security.
If you like to work with “Best of Breed” products and regularly re-evaluate your MSP tools to find a better product when it comes along, instead of having to explain this to your customer, you instead swap the service out behind the scenes. You’ve “upgraded” the service back-end, but the customer continues to buy your branded solution.
The next time your customer receives a flyer through the post with a special offer on such-and-such Antivirus product, they’ll be less inclined to do a like-for-like cost comparison because your service isn’t a commodity to be bought at the cheapest price—it’s a solution they’ve invested into.
White Labels to the Rescue
Many IT vendors offer MSPs the opportunity to package up and re-sell their services in this way—it’s known as “white labelling”, and is commonplace.
If your vendor doesn’t offer you the opportunity to white label its products and services as your own, then seek out a vendor that does.
There is an argument that some customers know and trust brands such as Microsoft. I’d say to this, don’t hide the fact that your branded solution is “supported” by a large vendor. If asked, share this knowledge, but don’t lead with the vendor’s brand message—lead with your own.
Customers increasingly want to work with a trusted business advisor, not a box shifter.
By building your own branded portfolio of services you’re reinforcing the idea that you’re MSP is a one-stop-shop for advice and solutions.
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As the former owner of an award winning IT Managed Service Provider, Richard Tubb works with MSPs to help them increase sales, take on employees and build up relationships with key industry contacts.
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