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How to Differentiate in the MSP Market: Part 1

In 2018, Managed Services alone accounted for $43B in annual revenue. Further, the total serviceable SMB market accounted for 7 million businesses, but only ten percent of that serviceable market is actually served by IT Service Providers today. This provides a huge opportunity for MSPs to gain additional market share and box out your competition. But how do you go about doing this?

Author: Ray Vrabel, senior director, strategic partners, Continuum

Recently, Continuum partner Rob Gelsinger, founder and CEO of Secure Network Services and I discussed exactly that—but today let’s focus on soft differentiators. Be on the lookout for part 2 and 3 of this series in the coming weeks where I dive into the rest of the differentiators.

First, what are soft differentiators? For our purposes, they are the intangible ways you can improve your business to gain more revenue, through acquisition and wallet share. Below are three specific soft differentiators every MSP should include in their strategy.

1. IT Committee Meetings

IT Committee Meetings are a great way for you to set yourself apart and to keep an open ear to customers needs. It not only shows that you are listening but can help you prioritize areas of improvement and build on your processes to become a better partner for your clients and a better perspective on what your prospects may be looking for.

2. Consistent Pulse

Making sure you set expectations and cadences with your customers from the start, what does your client want to get out of your weekly, biweekly, or monthly meetings and what do they expect you to deliver? This is especially important as IT becomes more and more remote, you’ll need to find innovative ways to support your customers. It also can influence referral business as you build your reputation around customer relationships.

3. Consulting as a vCIO

Your customers will look to you as their trusted advisor and you’ll want to deliver. This starts by being a subject matter expert and inserting yourself into the fabric of their business. Proving yourself as a true extension of their team requires expertise and time. Make sure you don’t overlook this critical aspect of your relationship to ensure greater stickiness with your customer.

From a Business Owner’s Perspective

According to Rob Gelsinger, consulting as a vCIO is an important way to gain trust. Rob and the team clearly communicate that they want to provide their clients with the most cost-effective way to achieve their goals. They are committed to understanding their customer’s businesses, helping them accomplish their goals over the next 1, 3, 5 years and equally invested in their success and business. An important note Rob likes to make: he’s not looking to replace in house IT. He wants to augment them to make them specialists, making the company and employees more productive.

Since being in business for almost 15 years, he’s instilled these key elements to build customer relationships. As Rob noted, there have been times that onboarding a client may not have necessarily been in the best financial interest for Secure Network Services in the short run, but the long term result, additional market share from referrals and increased customer retention.

Rob says his team is constantly learning and making improvements to their processes. That’s healthy business advice we should all aim to take.

Why Does This Matter to Your and Your Customers?

Customers, especially small businesses, want to see empathy and trust from their vendors and providers. By incorporating 1, 2, or all 3 of the soft differentiators above, you’ll begin to separate yourself from the competition, proving that you go the extra mile.

Want a sneak peek at what we’ll be discussing next? Watch the on-demand webinar today.


Ray Vrabel is senior director of strategic partners at Continuum. Read more Continuum blogs here.

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