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At the 2019 UK London Managed Services & Hosting Summit this week, a Gartner analyst delivered some “good news.” Gartner research director Mark Paine told conference attendees it’s now only taking customers 50 percent longer to buy an IT solution, which is down from the 97 percent it was at just a few short years ago.

The primary reason this phenomenon is occurring is because more stakeholders are not only involved in the process; they are also actively researching IT solutions long before they ever engage a managed service provider (MSP).

As IT has a bigger impact on their daily life, these stakeholders don’t always have a lot of faith in the internal IT team. In fact, a recent survey of customer service agents published by Freshworks, a provider of a customer engagement platform, found that software was the biggest factor impacting employee performance (47 percent).

Low quality software has negative impacts on business

Nearly one in four end users said using software they hate makes them want to quit their jobs. This flight risk is even more pronounced with millennials, with 30 percent reporting that forcing them to use bad software makes them want to pack up and leave. More than half the respondents would rather get to choose the software they love than have access to a 401(k) savings plan or two extra days of paid vacation.

The Freshworks survey estimates all that wasted searching for information, clicking through conflicting menus, working around glitches, and missing functionality results in $8.3 billion in lost productivity every year.

Given those productivity costs and the challenges associated with retaining staff these days, it’s not surprising to see business and IT leaders involving more people in the IT selection process. The harder it is to hire and retain any employee, the more influence that stakeholder tends to now exercise over IT purchasing decisions.

The challenge that creates for MSPs serving as trusted advisers is most of them don’t have deep enough relationships with the end users making these decisions. Historically, much of the MSP focus has been on establishing and maintaining relationships with IT and business leaders. In the absence of being able to exercise influence over end users, many more IT solution decisions are going to be made with little to no regard to how hard that solution might be for an MSP to support.

The irony of all this is that, thanks to the Internet, stakeholders are pushing purchasing decisions into the front end of the sales funnel faster than ever, only to see them get stuck as stakeholders from across the organization endlessly debate.

As Bobby Kennedy once noted: democracy is messy and it’s hard. MSPs may long for days when IT decisions were a little more totalitarian, but the smartest thing they could do right now is start reaching out to all the influencers inside their customer base. There may be one person who signs the purchase order, but somewhere in the purchasing process there are any number of people that can potentially kill a deal. Savvy MSPs make sure those influencers truly appreciate every aspect of what ultimately makes a good IT decision.

Photo: Mooshny / Shutterstock

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Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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