What IT Managers Actually Want From MSPs; It’s Not What You Think

We all want to rank among our customers’ most trusted business partners. To get there, though, MSPs might have to travel a different path than they’ve been taking.

The problem is that most MSPs fail to address the immediate needs and concerns of the IT departments, according to a report (worth reading!) by LOGICNow, a service management platform provider. Instead, MSPs focus too heavily on trying to deepen the relationship and establish a consultative role with the client before proving they can actually deliver the specific application an IT manager wants.

The report – conducted with 1,300 IT department managers of mostly small- and medium-size companies, and 700 IT service providers mostly focused on managed services – found this disconnect leads to more discord than harmony.

MSPs SHOULD work at establishing a consultative role with their clients, which typically leads to the development and integration of more profitable, long-term strategic solutions. But they must first win the trust of IT managers by delivering the shorter-term, tactical work they were initially brought through the door to perform.  Here are a few tips and strategies from the report and other sources that can help MSPs better align their business strategies with those of the IT department to develop strong, long-lasting relationships.

1. It All Starts Here: Find out exactly what the IT department needs your services for. What business objectives and goals must the department achieve? What problems does it need solved? What struggles must it overcome?  Take time to earn the trust of IT managers.

2. Achieve Clarity: Clearly articulate the solution you plan to deliver and the options available to do so. IT managers will listen, as long as the solution addresses their need. (Almost 40 percent of IT departments initially sought a break/fix solution but ended up choosing a managed service, according to the report.)

3. ROI Is King: The No. 1 factor IT managers say they look for when evaluating an MSP is cost savings and ROI. Consistently presenting documented ROI for every solution and implementation will earn MSPs trusted advisor status and a more consultative role. By contrast, MSPs feel breadth of services is their main selling point to IT managers, who actually rank it fourth on their list.

4. Develop Application Skills: IT managers say MSPs focus too heavily on providing broad infrastructure management solutions instead of specific applications that solve particular problems or achieve certain goals. Infrastructure management is the root of most MSP businesses, but the development of applications can generate more business and greater customer satisfaction, the report suggests.

5. Don’t Push: IT department heads feel threatened by MSPs who try too hard to be the trusted advisor or outsourced CIO, according to the report. MSPs must prove they can deliver exactly what’s needed before expanding their role.

6. Sell the Solution: The tools used to solve a business problem are less important to IT managers than MSPs think. That’s good news for MSPs, since many are adapting a value-based pricing model, opposed to a cost-based model. The solution-sales model also helps MSPs develop their company as the primary brand.

7. Make a Few Friends. MSPs must develop relationships that extend beyond the IT manager. Bond with C-level execs outside of the IT department. Those relationships are important since IT managers can be resistant to change and would rather focus on the immediate, short-term task. C-level executives are more likely to listen about the more strategic solutions an MSP can deliver down the line.

Need more ideas on how to become a trusted advisor and develop a more consultative role with the client? Download our free guide, MSP Matters: A Roadmap to Enduring Business Success. 

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