The SMB Managed Services Disconnect: Real or Imagined?

The SMB Managed Services Disconnect: Real or Imagined?

According to a recent study by CIT Group Inc., 62% of value-added resellers say SMBs don’t fully understand the benefits of managed services. But here's the twist: Do the best MSPs actually promote "managed services" to their SMB customers?

First, the study: Nearly half (49%) of those surveyed believed a lack of understanding is the leading barrier they face in trying to sell the benefits of managed services to SMBs. This was followed by overall cost (37%) and the desire of SMBs to maintain their own infrastructure (37%).

OK, so now that MSPs have statistical evidence their SMB clients are in many cases not getting the picture, it’s time to stop complaining and do something about it. After all, if you don't communicate the unique value propositions offered by managed services, who will, the IT vendors trying to sell their own service packages?

Of course, MSPs offer many different benefits to SMBs, but your clients don’t want to hear you thump your chest all day. You need to keep your educational efforts sharp and to the point, focusing on the biggest pain points your clients encounter.

Understanding that many smaller companies see technology as a necessary expense, as opposed to a strategic investment, respondents cited reduced costs (43%) as the most compelling benefit of managed services for SMBs, followed by the ability to free up resources to focus on other aspects of the business (37%) and reduced IT headcount (33%).

And in addition to focusing on these areas in your educational sales pitch, make sure your managed services package actually solves those issues.

The Cloud

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) agreed the popularity of cloud has made it easier for them to sell managed services to SMBs as customers become more familiar with the concept of software as a service. Cloud computing offers your customers a more affordable and flexible payment plan, unlimited storage, heightened security, and a complete elimination of any headaches associated with physical infrastructure. Once again, make sure you can deliver properly managed cloud services, not just explain their benefits!

Tablets, Smartphones and Mobile

More than half (51%) of respondents said cloud computing would have the greatest impact on providing managed services to SMBs, followed by tablets (21%) and smartphones (15%). Fifty-two percent of respondents also believed that tablets will take the place of laptops for most executives, while nearly a quarter (24%) believed that all applications and data storage will migrate to the cloud.

Tablets and smartphones dovetail nicely with cloud-based services, which are hardware-agnostic, and mobile access should be a cornerstone of your cloud value proposition.

At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember about educating your SMB clients on the value of managed services is that if you cannot provide these services at a high level of competency, you are essentially preparing them to take their managed service business to a more qualified competitor.

Additional insights from Joe Panettieri.
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