Channel, MSP

August MSP Growth Habit: Mastering the Art of Managing Time

This month’s MSP Growth Habit focuses on mastering the art of time management in order to help you grow your MSP and become more profitable.  

In speaking with MSPs over the years, there are three common concerns I hear when it comes to addressing their lack of revenue growth and profitability:

  • “I’m wearing too many hats.  I know I need to spend more time on sales and marketing, but I just can’t get around to finding the time that is needed to get a real sales and marketing motion off the ground.”
  • “We are doing too many tasks manually. I know I need to do a better job with automation and becoming more operationally efficient, but I just can’t seem to carve out the time I need to get my policies in order.”

Or my absolute favorite:

  • “I know I should be focused on finding new clients, but even if I was better at sales and marketing, it doesn’t matter, as I can’t really take on any new customers at the moment. I’m too busy trying to service and support the customers I currently have.”

This is the saddest statement of the three because you should never be too busy that your MSP has no interest in securing new clients or new business.  

So what are some tactics that you can employ that can help you better manage your time? Because as they say, ‘Time is money’, and if you can free up time within your MSP, you’ll finally have the time to work on those initiatives that are necessary to help expand your business.

4 Ways to Find Time Within Your MSP To Help You Meet Your Growth Objectives

1. Leverage the digital world to help with lead generation

How up to date is your website? How up to date is your LinkedIn profile? How disciplined are you at asking for reviews and testimonials from your very best customers and then posting them on your website and within your social feeds?  

Many MSPs fail to recognize the power their website, LinkedIn, and social proof has in helping them with their lead generation motion. When it comes to your website, if it is designed properly it can essentially act as your 24/7/365 sales and marketing specialist—especially if you don’t have anyone in these positions today. Because if a business owner has finally decided that they have had enough with their existing MSP, what is the next thing they are going to do? They are going to take it to Google and start searching for a viable alternative to the company they are using today. And if this business owner can’t find you, or if they do, and then they go and check out your website and they find it underwhelming, difficult to navigate, and lacking good content around the services you deliver and the benefits you provide, they will immediately hit that back button and move onto the next MSP that appears in their Google search. Studies show that it takes about 50 milliseconds for prospects to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they will stay or leave, so you want to ensure that your website is engaging.  

If you are not able to do anything today from a marketing and sales perspective due to time constraints, investing in your website can make a huge difference in bringing new leads into your sales funnel. You want to think of your website as that pivotal first introduction a prospect will have to your MSP, and your goal is to make a good first impression.  

2. Stop Wasting Time on Unqualified Prospects—Embrace the ICP!

According to research conducted by Sales Insights Lab of over 400 salespeople, they found that 71% of salespeople claimed that at least 50% of the prospects they were engaged with were not a good fit for what they were selling.  

This tells us there are a lot of salespeople out there that are spinning their wheels and wasting valuable time trying to engage with companies that are not the right type of business for them. Their productivity would be exponentially improved if they had first taken the time to define the ‘Ideal Client Profile (ICP)’ for their business. Your ICP is the baseline client-type that you set for your MSP in terms of who you want to target and do business with moving forward. Many MSPs that I speak with pride themselves on defining and enforcing a technological baseline standard that they mandate across their clients, but it is just as important to create and enforce an acceptable client baseline standard for your salespeople.  

Because if you can be disciplined and get a good understanding around WHO you wish to target, this will help you in several positive ways: 

  • It will help your salespeople to better identify business challenges so that they can better align your services to your prospects’ business needs and priorities
  • It will help to craft your value proposition and your messaging so that they are relevant and applicable to the businesses you want to target
  • It will help you streamline your sales effort and increase the velocity in which you move prospects through your sales funnel
  • Ultimately helping to improve close ratios, allowing you to grow faster as a company through increased sales success

3. Avoid Scope Creep—Examine Your Contracts to See Where You Are Truly Spending Your Time

If you are feeling that you can’t bring on new clients because you are spending all of your time servicing and supporting your existing customers, then you may need to look more closely at your contracts and service tickets to see where you are truly spending your time with them, and to see if there is a way to make these customers more profitable for your MSP.

If there are services that you are routinely completing for your customers, that aren’t currently part of your Master Services Agreement (MSA) with them, these services should be incorporated into your program and into your MSA, and then you should be adjusting your monthly fees accordingly. Or, if looking through your ticket history, there seems to be a variety of one-off service requests that you are completing for customers—that aren’t a part of your MSA—then make sure you are charging appropriately for the time spent completing these tasks.   

Because the struggle is real. You want to provide the best possible customer service for your clients and you want to be as accommodating as possible, but it cannot be at the expense of forgoing sustainable growth for your MSP, nor should you be providing these extra services for free.  

So how can MSPs manage scope creep? The best way is to clearly define the program’s parameters with your customers from the outset and ensure these parameters are properly documented within your MSA. You want to avoid any potential gray areas when it comes to your role and responsibility in caring for their network and the employees who use the network on a daily basis. With your service delivery parameters accurately defined with the MSA, this becomes the defacto document for either party to refer to if there are questions around what’s included and what’s not included in their monthly fee.    Should a request be made that is not part of the program parameters, then the MSA should outline the billing structure for accommodating this non-standard service request. This is paramount in helping to avoid any billing surprises and confusion. When you continue to accommodate customers’ one-off service requests, and not charge them for the work performed, the customer will feel that this is just the ‘normal’ course of business and will continue to push boundaries, taking up your precious time to do some meaningful work ON your MSP. 

4.  Examine Your Service Delivery Policies and Procedures to See Where You Can Leverage Automation to Make Better Use of Your Technicians’ Time and Reduce Costs

As our Automation Nerds say quite frequently: “If you do something twice, you’re learning. If you complete that same task a third time, you are wasting money and you should be looking at how to automate that task for the future.”

Automation policies should be considered:

  • If it’s for a task that your team is completing frequently, or completing on a scheduled basis 
  • If it is for a task that your team finds dull or tedious 
  • If it’s for a task that takes your team away from more important activities that need to get done

Best-in-Class MSPs—who are known for being the most profitable and most operationally mature in the industry—achieved this status because they made the decision early on to focus on their operational effectiveness by implementing an Automation Guru within their practice. They realized that to scale and remain profitable, they had to make automation a critical component of their overall managed services practice and had to ensure it was embedded within their company culture.  

Best-in-class MSPs recognize that focusing on automation results in several positive outcomes:

  • It is instrumental in eliminating time wastage on repetitive tasks
  • It can help lower operating expenses
  • It can provide better optimization of technical resources to improve productivity levels. Research by McKinsey estimates that automation can actually increase productivity in managed services by up to 20-35%.
  • It can help the organization meet their Service Level Agreement targets
  • And it can provide better control over their service delivery processes, allowing them to benefit from enhanced uptime and improved network performance

According to Gartner, by 2025, 70% of all managed services will be delivered via automation.  So if you find that you are well below this trend within your own MSP, then do what you can to make automation a priority and implement your own Automation Guru within your business.  

You should also consider attending one of our many Head Nerd Automation and Operational Efficiency Bootcamps that our team hosts every month. Because if you can find ways to free up time through automation, this will afford you the ability to reinvest those time savings into other areas of your business.   

Register for a bootcamp here

For other MSP growth habits, check out: New Habits to Target for MSP Growth in 2023

Guest blog courtesy of N-able. Author Stefanie Hammond is Head Sales and Marketing Nerd at N-able. You can follow her on LinkedIn and on Twitter at @sales_mktg_nerd.