Whether you’re a VAR, break-fix service provider, or even an MSP that’s getting started, the thought of adding or expanding your managed services offering doesn’t need to be a daunting one — as long as you take advantage of the resources available to you and learn from the experiences of those who’ve walked the path to managed services success before you.
I recently had the pleasure of working with some of our Partners and my colleagues to produce an online panel-style session discussing just this topic, and I have to say, it was a very interesting conversation! Here are the four pieces of advice that stuck with me:
1. Decide what you want to get out of it
Any strategic business decision should be made carefully and with a plan to support it. So, before taking any action, make sure you have an understanding of what exactly you’re hoping to accomplish as a result of growing your managed services offering. Are you looking to add more revenue or create more loyalty among your customers? Are there other results you’re hoping to achieve?
Without a goal to work toward, you may lose efficiency. A few examples of goals you might choose to aim for would be to have a certain percentage of your customers on managed services within a certain period of time, or to bring in a certain amount in CMRR each month. Start by deciding what you want your value proposition to be and work backward.
2. Know that it’s not all or nothing
Of the people we surveyed during the session, 55 percent indicated that they currently consider themselves a hybrid of VAR and MSP. If there are margins in project and other non-managed work, you don’t need to give those up altogether. There is value in rolling out the managed services model over time.
You’ll learn as you go, and having gained some experience early on will help you be even more successful as you try to increase the percentage of your customer base that is subscribed to managed services. One idea, for example, would be to begin by focusing on some of your top accounts or the customers you’re closest to. Or, you can start by offering a specific solution, such as backup or managed antivirus, to get your feet wet before you go all-in on managed services.
3. Be prepared to do some due diligence
Offering managed services requires using some tools the typical VAR doesn’t need. This means you’ll have to select some new solutions, and you want to make the right decision. Our panelists cautioned their peers against being rushed or bullied into choosing a tool that isn’t the right fit for you or your customers. You’ll want to demo any PSAs, RMMs, help desk software, etc. before you commit — otherwise you could end up getting stuck.
The same goes for subjects like pricing. If you’re rolling out new pricing structures or packages, you may learn some important lessons after the first few customers or prospects see it. So, be sure to solicit some customer feedback on it before you share it widely, and be cautious before publishing pricing. Once you’ve put the pricing out there, it’s hard to go back and change it if you realize you’ve missed an opportunity or made something unclear.
4. Leverage the tools available to you
One panelist mentioned that as you roll out your managed services offering you want to take advantage of resources beyond the new solutions themselves. For example, he described how he has used enablement content to fill in entire sections of his website. In this case, it was the Intronis Partner Toolkit that he leveraged, but there are many, many other resources available as well.
One panelist suggested that he has found success and helpful information by following the MSP channel on Reddit and getting involved in different groups on Spiceworks. Another panelist suggested that you check out organizations such as the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) or Robin Robins’ Technology Marketing Toolkit to interact and share best practices with your peers. There are countless thought leaders and resources available to you, but a few others that come to mind include: Gary Pica, Stuart Crawford, Raj Khera —and, of course, the Intronis MSP Solutions blog.
These are just a few of the highlights that I was eager to share with you, but I encourage you to check out the webinar replay video so you don’t miss any of the tips that were given about expanding or adding managed services. Thanks again to Brent Fairbanks and Corey DeGrandchamp for joining us for our panel!