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Simply becoming an MSP is not the only option for building a successful, scalable business and securing loyal clients. As many successful IT solution providers will tell you, building a managed services practice occurs over time as you add value to every implementation solution you deliver. Your vertical expertise and domain knowledge are what differentiate you from your competition and increase the value you bring to your client engagements. By leveraging that key differentiator and maximizing the billable time your team spends delivering not only project-based services but strategic planning and advisement you have the opportunity to ascend to the role of trusted advisor, CIO, or primary consultant and secure your clients for life.
Having worked with thousands IT solution providers across the globe, we have identified four essential considerations to securing a client for life.
Once you have identified your target market engage your prospects in a consulting relationship with the goal of understanding their business needs both near- and long-term. A good consultant should be able to assess and recommend the most appropriate technology solutions for specific business needs and budgets as well as anticpate the needs of an organization based on their long-term goals. That knowledge comes from leveraging your vertical and domain expertise.
You don’t have to do all the work, nor do you need to hire full time employees to meet the unique requirements of every client engagement. Savvy IT solution providers have a strong network of trusted partners and know how to manage the resources needed to deliver optimal solutions without exposing themselves to risk by staffing up unnecessarily.
Once your solutions have been implemented successfully, you are ready to bolt-on and deliver the services necessary to manage and maintain them on a consistent, scheduled basis. Here is where the managed services model really crystalizes. In step one you listened to your client and made recommendations to meet their unique business requirements, in step two you delivered that solution via the best combination of internal and external experts, and now is the opportunity to add value to your implementation by designing a services plan to ensure your client maximizes their IT investment.
The final, and possibly the most important consideration in securing your clients for life is conducting monthly operational reviews with your client. Monthly meetings are the best forum to demonstrate the value you bring to their organization, highlight operational issues and identify potential upside opportunities for additional services and/or implementations. Quarterly reviews should be also be conducted at the executive level, with the goal of preparing a year-end summary that includes recommendations for next year’s business technology budget – a budget that becomes an essential data input for your revenue forecast for next year.
If you specialize in the SMB market, taking these steps will help you become the defacto IT manager for your clients and give you the responsibility for the technology infrastructure – both products and services – that keeps their business running. If you work with larger organizations, you may not replace the internal IT staff, but you will become an indispensable resource for them in a very similar way, augmenting and supplementing their efforts in key areas.
Regardless of whether or not it is the right time to start talking to your clients about managed services, it is always the right time to talk to your clients to ensure you’re adding value and securing them for life.
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