Why should you strive for better MSP relationships? Here’s an example from my former life as an MSP owner.
A prospective new client regarding a new small business IT infrastructure project came to me with what they wanted.
It included a server, workstations, a printer and Microsoft Dynamics.
I was surprised that such a relatively small client wanted Dynamics (formerly Microsoft Dynamics NAV), a solution typically (but not exclusively) reserved for larger client sites.
I discussed their reasons and uncovered a scenario that was better suited for a smaller CRM product. When I shared this thought with the client, they were adamant – Microsoft Dynamics it was to be.
So I duly costed the project, including our collaboration with another Microsoft Partner to supply and configure Microsoft Dynamics.
The Client’s Reaction
Shortly afterwards the client came back to tell me they’d like to proceed to work with us on the project. They couldn’t accommodate the budget of a Microsoft Dynamics installation. Did we have any other suggestions to help them with their needs?
Indeed we did – a smaller CRM product should suffice and we ended up installing just that solution.
Once we’d won the work, I asked the client why they’d chosen us over the two other (larger) IT companies who we were competing against.
“The other two companies wouldn’t quote for Microsoft Dynamics. You listened to what we wanted”. This was an interesting answer, given that we didn’t end up installing it anyway.
I concluded that the client felt comfortable working with us, as opposed to the other IT companies. Perhaps he felt they were dictating to him what he “really” wanted.
Those other IT companies gave their impression they knew better than the client. I understand why, but it wasn’t what the client wanted.
If you want to know more about the importance of relationships in business, this article might help.
Focus on the Client’s Concerns to Build Better MSP Relationships
It’s a lesson I’ve held on to and applies to all businesses, not just MSP’s. In my new career as an independent Consultant working with IT companies, I’ve been tempted to try and “fix” all the challenges I see.
Instead I focus on the problem the client has brought to me. Once that problem is resolved, and trust is built, perhaps we can talk about other things too.
Don’t take what clients call problems at face value and then rush off to quote accordingly. Ask pertinent questions to uncover what their true pain is and offer solutions accordingly.
Want to know whether your customer service is focusing on you or them? Read this blog and review your approach.
People Like to Feel in Control
But be aware than we all like to feel in control. If a client approaches you with one problem, and you start talking about others, they’ll get defensive.
They might feel uncomfortable and so try to move away from that discomfort (you). Instead, you need to help the client to understand their pain points in a gentle, consultative manner. It’s important to know when to ease off.
If your client meeting is more like an interrogation and they become:
You haven’t won their business!
Build Trust and Grow Better MSP Relationships
With the experience of hindsight at my side, if I was to start an MSP tomorrow, I’d probably use an advertising phrase such as “We provide the fastest service in <location>.”
Most clients will say they want an MSP who will respond quickly to their support enquiries. You might think that a customer portal, or automated ticket responses, or a swanky patching solution is the greatest thing ever. But it’s not what they want from you.
The more trust you’ve built with a client, the more “suggestions” you can probably make. However, the less you talk, and the more you listen to what a client is saying and act upon that, the happier they’ll be.