How Can a Managed Service Provider Become a Trusted Advisor for Their Clients?
Stuart R. Crawford / Stuart Crawford
First of all, a trusted advisor is a lot more than a vendor to their clients, because they’re focused on improving their clients’ productivity, efficiencies, and net profits by eliminating business downtime and mitigating risk through the use of technology solutions.
As a trusted advisor, you’re expected to meet with your clients regularly to review their network monitoring and service desk reports, as well as continually search for ways to improve their support services. A trusted advisor would also perform quarterly business reviews with their clients, in order to help them develop their technology budgets.
Recently, many MSP professionals have been feeling nervous about the intense price competition and increasing client demands. Many MSPs tend to wonder if it’s worth it to become a “trusted advisor”, when clients seem primarily concerned with getting the lowest price. Basically, do relationships with our clients really matter anymore?
In short, of course they do! For many clients, the role of a trusted advisor is still relevant, and most importantly, highly valued. Managed service providers who offer substantial value are rewarded for their expertise. Remember, value is composed of two terms: costs and benefits. If your clients don’t see the benefits you’re offering, they’ll increase value by finding a better price elsewhere.
In order to succeed in today’s market, you must select your clients carefully, and demonstrate excellent value. Here are eight strategies that will help any managed services business thrive in today’s market:
- Aspire to Become a Trusted Advisor to All of Your Clients
Even the best professionals have this type of relationship with less than 50% of their clients, so don’t expect to reach “advisor” status will all of your clients. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t aspire to become a trusted advisor for each client.
If you set your goals high, you’ll engage in the training and learning necessary to excel in the industry. In addition, when you don’t set your standards and goals high, dedicated competitors will have an advantage over your business.
- Improve Your Advisor Skills to Obtain Success
Client advisors typically ask thought-provoking questions, and they’re empathetic to their clients’ needs. They always put their clients first, while keeping the ability to say no to things they’re unable to fulfill. Most importantly, advisors have expertise and extensive knowledge.
As a manager service provider, your clients must be able to trust your expertise and knowledge of technology. Your clients must be able to trust that you have their best interest in mind. A trusted advisor should be aware of the trends in technology, and provide valuable advice for their clients’ particular needs. However, while you’re supposed to provide advice and knowledge for your clients, you must also collaborate with them.
- Be a Trusted Expert for Your Clients
As a managed service provider, you’re expected to have skills related to virtualization, managing change, high availability, multiple network technologies, cross-platform integration, security, mobility, and cloud technologies. In addition, you must have sufficient knowledge on traditional IT and be able to structure your clients infrastructure to meet individual enterprise needs.
Certain clients will view you as a simple supplier and focus on price and execution. Be realistic, because with these clients, you can be a steady supplier who is considered a trusted expert, but you won’t become part of the inner circle.
- The Better Your Relationship is, The More Your Client Will Value Your Business
You should strive to continually re-earn your client’s loyalty and trust by delivering and adding value to your solution. As a managed service provider, your clients are looking for communication and good customer service skills. In addition, follow-up is important. These means that you call your clients after service calls and technology installations.
- Select Your Clients to Match Your Strengths
There are two types of buyers: transactional and consultative. The requirements to succeed with each are very different. With consultative buyers, you should strive to provide a high-end, valuable service. However, transactional buyers value price above everything else. Pick the right clients for your business, and say no to the wrong ones.
- Build a Good Reputation for Your Business
In a competitive market like managed services, you must build a strong and loyal following of clients. What is your client retention rate over a year? How about over five years? Consider how you can increase that rate even higher. If your client experience is average, how could you make it better? Think about how you could create more client excitement and enthusiasm around your work and business brand.
- Differentiate Your Business From the Competition
Don’t blame clients who don’t recognize how different your business can be from your competitors. In actuality, if they can’t see the difference, that’s your fault. Focus on differentiating on different levels, such as methodology, geographic focus, client experience, service offerings and so on.
- Treat Prospects like Clients and Existing Clients like New Clients
Clients expect great value during the sales process. When they have an ongoing, long-term relationship with you, they expect ongoing investment and innovation on your part. Remember to be selective about who you target as a prospect, but always treat them like they’re a client. Act like you’re their trusted advisor! Similarly, treat your long-term clients like new clients. Keep using that same enthusiasm and energy, as well as new ideas.
One of the biggest benefits of a trusted advisor is risk reduction. A good relationship reduces the risk of delivery failures, missed deadlines and misunderstandings between the MSP and client. By becoming a trusted advisor for your clients, they’re assured that business will be conducted as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
Have questions about becoming the managed service provider who makes a difference in the life of their clients? Call Stuart Crawford today at 716.799.1999 x101 and book a no obligation discussion about how your MSP can make a difference and stand out from the crowd.