Ask an MSP ExpertQ: I’m looking to expand my reach as a managed service provider. Besides just spending time trying to win new customers, what are some ways to grow the SMB accounts I already have?

Managed service providers often fall into the trap of thinking they need to add more customers to grow their managed service business, but this isn’t the only approach that works. By growing the SMB accounts you already have, you can increase your profit margins without needing to hire additional staff. After all, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep your existing ones.

To help give you pointers on how to grow your existing accounts, we talked to EMEA Channel Account Manager Kieran Cassidy and U.S. Regional Account Director Andrew Brearton, both from Barracuda MSP. They shared their insights on how MSPs can grow their SMB accounts.

Building your relationship with your SMBs

It’s important to begin your relationships with new partners by learning about their business and how they intend to use your partnership, Andrew explains. This gives you insight into their day-to-day activities, their company, what commonalities you share, and more.

The goal should be to make your SMBs feel comfortable to call you anytime, even when they want to talk about something other than business. For example, Andrew says several partners call him up to discuss the previous day’s soccer matches, even if they support rival teams. This increases your credibility and reinforces your role as an advisor because there is a layer of trust built around your companionship.

It’s also important to make sure your customers have a good initial technical experience, Kieran says. Are you meeting their expectations, or are there areas where you can improve? By staying in contact with them, not only can you create a valuable relationship, but you can also make sure they have a good customer experience. Plus, you can more insight into what pain points they might have and what other opportunities there might to for your MSP help. 

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Keep the communication open with your SMB customers, but you should also reach out to them at least once or twice a quarter, Kieran suggests. “Some partners might prefer to communicate with you weekly, but others might prefer to be left to their own devices and only speak to us when they need to,” he explains. “Build the relationship and ensure you’ll be the first person they call when they have an issue or need a new solution.”

Typically, in business you generate 80 percent of your revenue (or sales) from the top 20 percent of your customers, Andrew explains. That’s why it’s important to communicate with your top accounts often — or in some cases daily. Not every single interaction needs to be focused on business or selling, though.

Take an interest in what’s new in their life and share what’s going on in yours. Show them you are a REAL person, not just an annoying sales rep. “For some partners, I’ve sat down on my own time and devised a go-to market strategy to help their business,” Andrew says. “I’m a self-described ‘business nerd’ and love helping small businesses.” Take the time to build a relationship with your customers and truly care—if you don’t they’ll see right through you.

Demonstrating the value

Once you’ve started developing your relationship with a customer, you can work on demonstrating the ways you can add value to their business. “The easiest way to show value is by using both ears,” Andrew says. “Listen. Understand what problem the customer is trying to solve, and then work backwards on the resolution.” He explains that the best sales rep follows the 70/30 rule: Your customer speaks 70 percent of the time, and you speak 30 percent. If you can’t find a pain point, then what is the use of telling them how your services can help? “Customers want you to dig out their issues and prove your value as an advisor, not act like a door-to-door salesman selling a vacuum in the ’50s!” Andrew explains.

Nothing is more annoying than getting a call from a sales rep who has no idea about who you are or what you do, Andrew says. “LinkedIn Sales Navigator is an incredible prospecting tool once you hone your skills,” he explains. “It’s a great way to interact with individuals and companies to show you care.” Using LinkedIn Navigator, you can find connections to companies you might not have known about and learn their background. Social selling is going to be an important tool for MSPs going forward. Start using social media to show how you are a thought leader in the industry—share important articles, or studies that pertain to your customers’ businesses, Andrew suggests. This will help you build your relationship with existing customers and connect with new prospects at the same time.

Building a strong relationship with your SMB customers is important because it builds trust. When customers trust you, not only will those SMBs be more likely to grow their accounts with you, but they may also refer a few of their friends to your services.

Ready Set Managed

Photo:  Sunny studio /Shutterstock.

Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is a content and product marketer with several years of experience in the IT channel. She has created and developed content that helps managed service providers grow their business, and has written many articles featured in SmarterMSP’s The MSP’s Bookshelf and Ask an MSP Expert series.

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