Recently, I returned to my alma mater, Bryant University, to attend their annual Student Alumni Networking Dinner (SAND). During the event, attendees were seated so that students would have the opportunity to network with alumni who worked in the student’s desired career path. With most tables having a ratio of about three students to one alumnus, the evening allowed attendees to have more in-depth conversations over their meal. By the end of the night, I had learned a valuable life lesson, that also applies to anyone involved in an MSP business.

Having attended the dinner during my days as a student at Bryant, I was already familiar with the event and how it was structured. I expected that the students I interacted with would want to ask about my current role, career path, and if my place of work had any employment opportunities that they could apply for — as I had asked alumni, when I was a student.

To my surprise, the conversations I had with these students covered more topics than I had predicted. While the subjects I expected to hear about, such as career path and opportunities, came up, many of the students were interested in my personal experiences at Bryant and how they could improve their college experience. Questions like what classes I enjoyed the most, which professors were the most helpful, and what activities and experiences they should add to their “Bryant bucket list” to complete before graduating.

This experience was truly insightful, because it enabled me to learn what the students were concerned about or looking forward to. In terms of the bigger picture, I gained a better understanding of the mindset of many of these students. While they might be keeping an eye on the future, their focus is on the short-term, or the “here and now.”

So, what does this have to do with MSPs?

The reason I bring all of this up is because much of what I learned from my conversations with these students, can be applied to your conversations with customers and prospects. This lesson can be applied to any business, really.

Both parties feel positive about a conversation when they each get something out of it. This happens when needs are being met and contributions are being valued. By letting the students take control of the conversation, rather than telling them what I thought they wanted to know, I was able to make our interaction more valuable.

How does this translate to MSPs and their conversations with customers?

Just think about it from a customer’s perspective. They did not take the time out of their busy schedule to listen to you sell them every solution you offer. Whether customers know what their needs are and what they need to look for or not, you need to hear them out if you want to make informed decisions and statements about their business.

Another aspect many customers have in common with the students I met is their mindset. Customers are not always focused on “the next big thing” or “what’s coming.” Most of their attention is on what’s currently happening, so they can effectively run their business. For what will arrive in the future, customers will look to you as the MSP to have the solution or service ready for them when they need it.

The most rewarding partnerships are born from strong communication. Through the power of listening, you can learn what the other party is looking for from you — even if they don’t know how to ask for it. Your ability to truly hear them, and to respond accordingly, will set you apart from the rest.

Ready Set Managed

Photo: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock

Bill Petherbridge

Posted by Bill Petherbridge

Bill is a Content Marketing Associate at Barracuda MSP. In this position, Bill is a key contributor to the management of the SmarterMSP.com and Barracuda MSP blogs. He also serves as copyeditor for Barracuda MSP content, in addition to maintaining Barracuda MSP's social media presence.

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