Standing Out in a Growing, Competitive MSP Landscape

March 11, 2020

A study by Market Research Future predicts the managed services industry will likely grow at a CAGR* of 11% through 2022. This offers all of us a great opportunity to gain market share and box out our competition. But how do you go about doing this?

“What do you do different from your competition?” is a simple question for which many MSPs don’t have a good answer. Promises of excellence service, competitive pricing models, and 24/7 availability of support aren’t going to cut it. To become the go-to MSP provider in your area, you need to differentiate.

True success in the ever-growing MSP landscape is created with a willingness to try new things and engage with prospects in exciting ways. I took some time to gather 8 secrets you can use to discover your key selling points and differentiate your offerings from the competition.

Do your homework

Rely on targeted Google and LinkedIn searches to identify your competitors, their team sizes and demographics. Learn what your competition offers and how they present it. That will help you find your winning edge – your key differentiators. Each key differentiator should be unique, measurable and defendable. It should answer a client’s favorite question, “Why should I buy service from you, versus all other alternatives in the market?

The next step should be identifying your ideal client – something that will be dictated in part by your specific areas of expertise. Knowing where you shine will help you match up with the right prospects and work with companies that need the exact type of services you offer.

Bring out your brand’s personality

In order to position your brand, think beyond your logo. Map out who you are and what you offer to your clients. Your marketing collaterals should capture your voice and entice clients to engage with you. Customer service is about more than just answering the phone, responding to emails, and gathering feedback on closed tickets. Injecting even a small dose of company personality will help your business be ‘uniquely you.’

Up your game

Managed services can become a commodity if you strictly talk remote monitoring to your clients. One way to add value is bulking up your offerings. The more managed services you can offer to your clients, the better. Apart from obvious MSP offerings, making strategic advising part of your service bundle can also be a key differentiator here. And, consider adding end-user software training to your services mix.

Publish a detailed service catalog to ensure that potential and current clients understand what’s being available to them. It may take you some time and effort to integrate a suite of offerings, but it’s worth it.

Maintain consistency

Make sure you set the right expectations with your client from the start. Involve the account manager, technical contact, and the representative who pitched the client as you prepare your agenda for any upcoming Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs). Even as you grow your product and services portfolio, you will need to find new ways to support your clients that keep you involved in their day-to-day operations. Think about options for upsell and cross-sell, as well as services offerings, but be certain to evaluate the need and unique value for each particular client.

Be a thought leader

Although everything on this list demands effort on your part, this one will require a significant time investment. However, this one thing will have the biggest impact on your business. By positioning yourself as an expert in the MSP industry—or as an MSP servicing a particular vertical market—you will become a more trusted member of the community, recognized for what you contribute to local business success. Once you start getting free local media coverage, you will slowly become synonymous with knowledge, and your business will thrive because of that. Also, investing your time into local networking and relationship-building can have positive long-term impact.

Virtual CIO

Big businesses have the budget to hire a Chief Information Officer (CIO), but for SMBs, it’s often not possible. Establishing someone in your business as a Virtual CIO (vCIO) could be your golden ticket to opening new revenue streams in exchange for the domain knowledge you already have. Remember: Integrating this practice into your business model requires a deep understanding of your client’s business needs and goals.

Perform regular ‘Reality Checks’

Create a comparison sheet, comprising you and your competitors. You will be able to uncover “where you stand out” and “where you lag behind” through this exercise. Having internal discussion meetings is a great way to keep an open ear to the client’s needs. They can guide you to prioritize areas of improvement and build on your processes to become a better MSP partner.

Put in a good word

Client success stories show prospects your value from a peers’ point of view. It illustrates what they can expect from your services if they pick up the phone. Shoot 40-60 seconds video clips that outline what you have done for your clients and how have you played a key role in improving their bottom line. Or create written case studies told from your customer’s point of view, because people respond to stories and emotions, not features and service lists.

Final thought: The true path towards standing out in a growing, competitive MSP landscape begins with discovering what makes your business offering unique. Even if you offer the same MSP services, there’s something different and interesting about your company that can be harnessed and used to your competitive advantage.

* Compound annual growth rate

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