How to Master the Proposal Process

How can a managed service provider (MSP) master the proposal process? Here's what you need to know.

Dan Kobialka, Contributing writer

March 31, 2016

3 Min Read
CompTIA's Carolyn April
Carolyn April

Properly managing the proposal process to ensure respect for a customer’s decision-making regimen can be a key factor in whether a managed services provider (MSP) is able to secure the deal.

A recent study of 350 business and IT professionals conducted by CompTIA, the Computing Information Technology Industry Association, found 60 percent of respondents described their managed services engagement as a collaborative arrangement with their internal IT department.

“Very few companies get rid of their IT staffs because they contract with an MSP,” Carolyn April, CompTIA’s senior director of industry analysis, said in a prepared statement. “Especially among larger companies, bringing an MSP on board frees up the IT staff to work on more strategic projects. It elevates the IT staff and brings them out of the shadows within the organization.”

The “Fourth Annual Trends in Managed Services Study” also showed more than half of respondents said they were “very familiar” with the concept of managed services, while another 40 percent noted they were somewhat familiar.

April pointed out how MSPs define their offerings can be key. 

“The definitional issue is an enormous one,” she added. 

An MSP must define its services during the proposal process to show how its offerings address specific customer requirements and IT problems. 

Remote monitoring and management (RMM) software provider Continuum recently offered the following tips to help MSPs master the proposal process:

  1. Organize your proposal for an executive — An executive is concerned about the bottom line, and an MSP should organize its proposal to focus on how its services can help an executive’s organization reduce its costs.

  2. Discuss pricing — Draft a formal proposal after receiving verbal confirmation that a prospect will pay a price for your services that both parties have discussed.

  3. Understand the customer’s approval process — Learn about the customer’s proposal approval process to identify potential bottlenecks.  

  4. Address potential objections — Ask prospects if they have any objections, so you can attempt to quickly get to the root of their concerns and resolve the issues. 

  5. Offer low-risk, reliable services — “Your solution may be more expensive than others, but if it’s more technologically robust, you could be saving them from costlier downtime costs, should disaster strike,” Continuum noted. 

Technology buyers want vendors to respect their decision-making process, according to Hank Barnes, research vice president at technology research firm Gartner.

Barnes pointed out vendors that ignore this process risk alienating customers and missing out on growth opportunities. 

“The perceived lack of respect for their time and their business hurts everyone. Buyers put up more and more walls to protect their time,” he wrote in a blog post

“They view every contact with skepticism,” he said. “It’s an uphill battle for providers to get back trust and respect.”  

How do you approach the proposal process? Share your thoughts about this story in the Comments section below, via Twitter @dkobialka or email me at [email protected].

Send tips and story ideas to [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Dan Kobialka

Contributing writer, Penton Technology

Dan Kobialka is a contributing writer for MSPmentor and Talkin' Cloud. In the past, he has produced content for numerous print and online publications, including the Boston Business Journal, Boston Herald and Dan holds a M.A. in Print and Multimedia Journalism from Emerson College and a B.A. in English from Bridgewater State College (now Bridgewater State University). In his free time, Kobialka enjoys jogging, traveling, playing sports, touring breweries and watching football (Go Patriots!).  

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