A vital component of building your managed services sales and marketing strategy is defining your ideal customers. Most small VARs and MSPs fail to do this and it's a critical mistake. They try to be all things to all customers. They do break fix work, managed services, deal low-budget customers, high-budget customers, end-users, and businesses of all sizes and shapes and verticals. It's time to simplify. Here's how.
Here's where the danger starts: "If the customer is willing to pay, let's sign them up. Money is money. "
If that sounds like you, you are walking into trap that is difficult to get out of.
When you try to be all things to all customers, it blurs your business focus. I can guarantee if you take this approach, your business will have difficulty growing at some point because of it. It is impossible to effectively target your sales and marketing when you have no idea who your ideal client is. Your sales team cannot pre-qualify and go after the right clients that make the wheels of your business turn. Your marketing strategy cannot be honed in when you don't even know who you want to market to.
Food for ThoughtThe key to having great service delivery is building a repeatable and predictable process that can be duplicated by any trained and qualified employee. All great business organizations have fixed methodology for service delivery. For example: you can go to any McDonald's in the world and get the same Big Mac with roughly the same type of service delivery. It doesn't matter who is making the burger or where you are at when you buy it, the results are the same.
In the IT service industry, the methods and process we use to support end-users, break/fix, and managed services clients all differ. When you try to provide service to all of them, you never pin down a repeatable process or a level of predictability that customers demand and you need to grow your business.
Now imagine McDonald's trying to house their fast food business, a Ruby Tuesdays, and a Morton's Steak House all under one roof. It would be impossible to train the staff, make the meals, deliver service, and please the customers effectively. This sounds a little silly doesn't it? But, it's the same thing you are doing when you try to be all things to all customers. This is why this strategy ultimately fails.
Simple SolutionFinding the right customer depends on your delivery strategy. Define your product and then look for the client who buys that product.
I like Gary Pica's take on this. Pica, founder of TruMethods, says the right customers are "the right businesses who will pay the right amount of money for your services."
To me, this sums it up. Find a target market, figure out what kind of prospect brings you the profit you need to make, and go after it. Make a profile of this ideal company. Define how many employees they have, what their verticals are, how much revenue they have, and where they are located. Once you have this figured out, attack the market with purpose. Don't deviate from you profile of the ideal client.
Remember, it is just as important to say no to the wrong prospect as it is to say yes to the right one.
Paul Barnett is marketing director for VirtualAdministrator, which offers hosted solutions for managed service providers. Read all of Paul’s guest blogs here. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of MSPmentor’s 2010 Platinum sponsorship.