On paper, every business wants to be a leader. You want to lead your category, your industry, and your region. You want to be number one and reap all of the benefits with rising to the top of a competitive space.
We talk about wanting to be leaders, but businesses — including their owners as well as the people they hire — often choose not to lead. When there’s a major shift in the industry, many businesses turtle up and wait to see what everyone else does before making changes or moving forward. When there’s a new product available, many businesses are slow to educate clients on the opportunity or to recommend an update. When growth might require risk — and a level of potential failure — many businesses opt for the sure thing.
Leadership is a complex topic worthy of the several hundred books written on the topic already. In the context of MSPs and sales, a particular leadership idea is crucial: You have to break away from the pack. You can’t be a leader if you’re in the middle.
The mental shift of moving from pack member to pack leader has tactical applications for an MSP, which we will cover in a moment, but first, let’s frame the strategic perspective. You need to reimagine yourself as the driver of your customers’ success. If you are just checking boxes on an order form, you are a commodity, and you are replaceable. To bring true value, you need to dig deeper and act as a true partner in the success of your customers. That means you need to embrace difficult conversations and encourage the dialog that helps your client move closer to their goals.
How to operate as a leader
If you apply this approach to your business, you will likely need to do the following:
• Claim a seat at the table. The services you offer are often the backbone of your clients’ performance goals. Insert yourself into those conversations and be a contributor to deciding how your client can move in the right direction.
• Rebuild your sales process. Leaders don’t talk like every other salesperson in the market. How are you different? What makes you stand out? Double down on the most engaging parts of what makes you unique.
• Start and foster deeper conversations in your space. If you are a leader, you have a perspective that others lack, so share it. Make thought leadership an active part of your platform to demonstrate to your clients and prospects that you are not just following standards, but also setting them.
• Challenge clients and prospects. Just as your own growth lies beyond your comfort zone, so does success for the people who hire you. Leaders are comfortable saying no and are comfortable with having difficult discussions if it means reaching the right outcome.
If you aren’t sure where to start or what qualities of your business are leader-worthy, ask yourself, who are your best clients? What do you offer your client that makes your services and relationship stand out? Why are you the best company to partner with this particular client?
When you start to apply the leadership lens to your work, you will begin to see your business in a new light. With that light, you can illuminate a new path forward, taking you toward greater success and farther away from the average members of the pack.
Photo: Fernando Maté / Shutterstock.