The 5 Biggest Onboarding Mistakes an MSP Makes

Unless you have a solid plan and strategy for onboarding, it’s very easy to find yourself putting off your prospective client. Here are some of the biggest mistakes MSPs tend to make while onboarding and how to avoid them.

Stuart Crawford, Consultant

December 19, 2014

4 Min Read

A lot of MSP marketing goes into getting the lead, and that’s great. We all know that it can be hard to even get the attention of a business, so managing to get them into an onboarding process is a major part of the battle.

But what do you do next?

Unless you have a solid plan and strategy for onboarding, it’s very easy to find yourself putting off your prospective client. Here are some of the biggest mistakes MSPs tend to make while onboarding:

1. Overpromising

It is too easy to start making promises and guarantees to your prospective clients. We all know how great technology is and that a well-planned IT strategy really can make all the difference to a business, but if you oversell yourself, you’re setting yourself up to trip and fall on your face.

  • Have concrete examples of the kinds of changes your prospects can expect to see, and give them realistic ideas of how that process works. People trust examples and process – be straightforward and they will reward you.

  • If you promise something, make sure you deliver on it within the time frame you set up. ALWAYS include a time frame with a promise; otherwise you’re going to find yourself rushing and panicking.

2. Having no Lead-in

Do you have a specific service, solution, or specialty that is going to start the conversation with your prospect? A lot of MSPs simply go in with a list of services and a promise that they’ll meet the bottom line. That’s not good enough to truly get the attention of a business owner.

  • Think about the things your prospect needs and lead with those. Are they a business with a lot of compliance issues? Talk about security and audits. Do they have agents or team members out of the office a lot? Talk about mobility.

  • Major IT influencers like Dell and Connectwise have seen that customers today are talking about The Cloud, Mobility, and Security above all else. Make sure you are including these important topics in onboarding.

3. Overloading

Yes, you have a LOT to offer a business. That’s a good thing. But don’t try to lay it all out on the table at once, or you’ll find your prospects overwhelmed and losing interest.

  • Before you talk about a service or product, ask yourself if it’s something your client actually NEEDS. If you’re not sure, ask the prospect leading questions to get a sense of what they’re looking for.

  • Avoid talking about the specifics of your technology unless the prospect directly asks. For the most part, all they want out of technology is to know what benefits they’ll get out of it, and whether it will work.

4. Making it About YOU

Ultimately, this is a people industry, not a tech industry. You need to always keep in mind that your clients want to USE the technology you offer to get things done in their daily lives. Make sure you leave room in the onboarding process to let them lead you towards offering them what they’re looking for.

  • Find out what their daily operations are like, and what they typically use their IT for every day. You should be able to suss out potential issues by knowing what their technology is SUPPOSED to do.

  • There’s nothing wrong in directly asking them what issues they are having or what they wish they could be doing. That will give you an easy way to start positioning your service as a solution for their problems.

5. Not Following Up

It’s too easy to say, “The ball’s in their court,” and wait for a prospect to get back to you during the onboarding process. But you’re the one with the service to sell, and you’re the one who knows how great it is. It’s your responsibility to take the bull by the horns and make sure to follow up with them during the process.

  • Do you provide trial services or access to a demo platform? Make sure you send out emails or make a phone call shortly after providing access, so you can either ask them how they found the service or remind them to take a look.

  • You can create automatic reminders or emails to go out at different points in the process to stay in touch with your prospects. Don’t overwhelm the prospect, but make sure they hear from you regularly.

Also, it’s important to include one last part of the onboarding process when all is said and done: ask for feedback or criticism. You’ve got to know what it was that made them stick with you, and you also need to know if there was anything that might have sent them away. Listen to what they have to say, and change your approach for next time.

Ulistic provides marketing services to managed services providers. The Ulistic team acts as part of your team, engaging and working with your MSP each day to assist in providing the foundation for stratospheric success. Learn more at

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About the Author(s)

Stuart Crawford

Consultant, Ulistic

Stuart Crawford is Creative Director and MSP Marketing Coach with Williamsville, NY and Burlington, ON-based Ulistic, a specialty firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.

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