We’ve heard it said a hundred times: Strong customer relationships are the lynchpin of any successful business. But many IT service providers still fail to provide SMB clients, the bulk of their customer base, with the handholding, advice and attention needed to maintain solid partnerships, increase business and drive profits.
Simply put, many service providers are not doing a good enough job talking with and listening to their clients, a problem that’s highlighted in CompTIA’s recent “Enabling SMBs with Technology” report. A good way to reverse that trend is by improving communications with the most important contacts in a client’s organization.
The process doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should be thorough. It’s all about taking the time to discover and discuss basic elements, such as a client’s needs, challenges, competition, market, customer base and business goals. The technology conversation can follow.
Here are a few insights from the report, and some lessons we’ve learned from the trenches, that MSPs can use when forming relationships with new prospects or strengthening partnerships with existing clients.
- Less than one-third of SMBs are “very satisfied” with their outside IT provider. Technology providers, SMBs say, can be better partners by improving their communications, being more proactive, listening more closely to the needs of the client and taking more time to understand the overall business.
- Only 17% of SMBs say they are exactly where they need to be with technology. About 43%, however, have some ideas of what they want to achieve with technology but are unsure of the strategy for meeting those goals. That means they need MSPs to describe available solutions and explain how the technology will deliver a clearly defined solution.
- The owners or top executives of companies with less than 100 employees typically make the IT decisions. Many of them say IT service providers rarely solicit their business. MSPs can begin developing a relationship by simply introducing themselves. Chances are high that those decision makers will welcome the conversation, since almost 70 percent of them say they’re likely to turn to an IT firm for strategic solutions.
- MSPs should keep in mind when approaching new clients that most SMBs want more in the following areas: technical guidance, information about available technologies, user-friendly systems and customized solutions that meets specific needs. They are also looking for better integration of systems and improved life-cycle management. Addressing those areas can help MSPs develop longer-term, strategic relationships.
- One of the main reasons SMBs replace their IT provider with a new one is because they feel the current services and solutions are too expensive. BUT (and it’s a big “but”) SMBs say they are willing to spend more if the solution is innovative and enables a specific business result. That phenomenon underscores the importance of presenting use cases to highlight the effectiveness of a solution and ROI to justify its cost. Both help to gain a client’s trust. The deeper the trust, the less a client will question the price.
The best way for any service provider to gain a client’s trust is to successfully solve an immediate problem, enable a specific process or achieve a clearly defined objective. Start the process by asking basic questions, listening closely to the answers and delivering exactly what’s needed. A strong relationship will follow.
To learn even more about best practices in managed services, download our free guide, MSP Matters: A Roadmap to Enduring Business Success.
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