Managed Services: The Value Is the Service
Generally speaking, IT managed service providers are technologists, both in training and previous professional pursuits. The managed services market is also highly fragmented, with a long list of small technology and software companies all battling for the attention and business of end users and IT service providers. The value focus in all of the selling and marketing efforts has resulted in a disturbing trend carried over from the hardware selling models: A focus on tools, technology, and features/functions. Here’s how to avoid that trap at all costs.
Remember: Only technology providers get excited about technology. The rest of the world just wants their IT problems handled so they can conduct whatever business they are in.
Retool Your Messaging
It is critical for successful managed service providers to stay above this fray and avoid the “speeds and feeds” trap that is so prevalent in IT marketing and solution selling. Tools are exactly that – pieces and parts of the overall finished service. Tools and technologies are not the services you are selling, nor are they the value you provide to your clients.
Your unique expertise and ability to deliver complex solutions to your clients, when added to the tools and technologies, is the service you deliver, and it is that expertise and unique value proposition you need to focus on when marketing and selling your capabilities.
Without question, the tools and applications you choose need to work and fit your business. Solid tools and strong technology is the foundation for any competent and quality service you deliver. However, too many MSP’s are focusing on and marketing the parts of their overall solution.
For example, the reason an end client should choose you to provide IT systems management and support has nothing to do with the tools you use to deliver that capability. The assumption by the end user is that you can provide such a service; they don’t care which PSA (professional services automation) tool you have selected to run your business. Yet many MSP’s still weave vendor literature and brands into their managed services marketing and selling materials and ignore the larger question: Why you over anybody else?
Under the Hood
Don’t believe me? Who made the transmission in your car? Are you sure? Do you care? You want your car engine to perform, but you don’t really care who made the various parts, so long as the auto manufacturer stands behind the product, right? You are buying BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan or Toyota. You are buying the value proposition and brand promise that those various auto makers deliver. You are not evaluating the combined parts and components that go into those cars which are delivered or made by third parties.
End client prospects for IT services are evaluating their decisions in the same manner. They are looking to your brand, your value proposition, when making their decision. If your value proposition is on target, and you are able to differentiate your capabilities around delivering a high quality service at a fair price, the tools you use are your choice and are irrelevant to your end clients. So long as you ensure those tools work for you, they will work for your end clients.
Of course, Seismic offers the widest selection of tools and capabilities in the market. But if it’s your value proposition or brand promise you want to tune up, Ingram Micro can help provide market-leading expertise with that also.
Justin Crotty is Vice President Services North America at Ingram Micro, Inc. He oversees Ingram Micro Seismic. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of MSPmentor.net’s 2009 Platinum sponsorship.