Leading MSPs: Seven Top Traits the Elite Share

Today’s MSPs face a dizzying array of daily challenges, including delivering an exceptional client experience, staying ahead of emerging technology trends, hiring and keeping talented employees, and last but not least—scaling and growing the business. To be successful and take it to the proverbial “next level,” it’s never a bad idea to examine what the best in the business— today’s top MSPs—are doing to command their markets.

Take a look at these seven traits shared by our MSP Elite and follow their lead to make gains across your business this year:

1. They optimally manage their business: Elite MSPs have a sharp focus on their business operations, and are constantly refining and improving their key metrics including operating income and gross margins. After all, as clients look to MSPs as an example, and ask for advice in reducing their IT costs and complexity, it’s in the MSP’s best interest to manage their business at maximum efficiency and operate at peak performance.

 2. They specialize in a business vertical: Elite MSPs often focus on one or two verticals (e.g. healthcare, financial services, technology, etc.) and develop deep industry expertise in those markets. This allows them to engage with clients in their own language, and better serve their clients’ unique, market-specific needs. In addition, by knowing their target customer profiles, successful MSPs focus their business development efforts exclusively on customers that map to those profiles, while steering clear of deals that don’t support their core expertise. To acquire this specialization, start by identifying a vertical market in which you’ve already gained some traction, and build upon that success – and then claim it as your own niche.

 3. They think like consultants: It’s common for MSPs to focus on technology when speaking with prospects. They consider technology to be their core competency, and by all accounts, it seems like a good starting point for a sales conversation. But elite MSPs realize that technology is a means to an end, and take a bigger-picture, consultative approach to solving their customers’ business problems. By doing so, they engender more executive buy-in and broad-based consensus within their customers’ organizations, and are often awarded larger-sized contracts as a result. In addition, they are more likely to keep a customer longer than those MSPs who simply focus on selling to lower-level executives, who may be more price sensitive, or forced to make budget cuts at some point.

 4. They are self aware and able to adapt: Leading MSPs understand technology, their core competencies and the value they provide to their target market. By keeping a pulse on the challenges of their clients, they can adapt and optimize their technology architectures and services to best address those needs. They are also able to more easily adapt and scale their services as the needs of their customers grow or evolve in constantly changing business environments.

 5. They talk to other MSPs: Elite MSPs are active in user groups or peer forums that expose them to best practices and help them overcome obstacles. This type of peer engagement also gives them insight into business and industry benchmarking and emerging technology trends, and helps them know where they need to make changes to improve their practices. Here, quality beats quantity: it’s important to focus on the one peer group that best supports your profile and market, and not bounce around or try to participate in too many, which will only water down the benefits. But to cast a wider net, elite MSPs often lead discussions and present at industry events, while also keeping the conversation going through published thought leadership pieces and blogs to provide guidance to other MSPs.

6. They leverage the right tools to create a compelling message: Leading MSPs leverage the right remote monitoring and management (RMM) and professional services automation (PSA) software to best serve the needs of their customers. Mapping these platforms with their own sales and marketing alliance strategies enables them to create a compelling value proposition to their target market, and do so in the most efficient, repeatable and scalable way.

 7. They’re constantly adding new customers: Once they’ve gained a new customer, many MSPs will leverage every last resource they have to ensure their client’s every whim is satisfied. Yet while providing customers with outstanding service is an admirable goal, it should not be done at the expense of the overall business—and the ongoing need to gain new customers or expand sales with existing clients. In fact, when you win a new client is the best time to go out and pursue new customers. Your confidence levels are up, and you can leverage the win to get your foot in the door somewhere else. The bottom line is: always be working on getting new customers because a client can leave at any time for any reason—especially for reasons out of your control. It’s just a part of business.

It’s clear that elite MSPs work 24/7 to constantly stay in front of their customers, and ahead of the competition. What are your best strategies for success?

Frank Colletti is VP of sales for SolarWinds N-able, which specializes in remote monitoring and management (RMM) and service automation software. Read more SolarWinds N-able blogs here.