How to sell managed services to SMBs


SMBs are no different than their larger counterparts when it comes to innovative technologies: They need them and are growing more dependent on advanced systems to stay competitive.

Some of the pain points of small and medium businesses have to do with how to rein in IT-related expenditures, including staff-related costs—and a shortage of tech professionals, according to Anurag Agrawal, the chief analyst at consultancy Techaisle.

“This combination of increased reliance on technology as a key driver of business success, burgeoning complexity, and cost constraint has created a ‘perfect storm’ for the use of managed services,” Agrawal writes.

Managed services started as a means for managing print-related costs and technologies. Still, it has grown into a business to share scarce IT resources across multiple SMB businesses and business locations, Techaisle says. These offerings now include cloud services, mobile device management, storage, and security.

By 2028, SMBs worldwide are expected to spend $1 trillion in 2028, growing at a faster rate than the enterprise segment, according to Techaisle. This comes from the need to constantly innovate and, yes, keep the lights on. Forty percent of midmarket firms and 15% of small businesses are carving out budgets specifically for technology-driven innovation, the firm says.

“Managed services address real and compelling issues and will continue to expand within the SMB community,” Agrawal says.

So you would think selling managed services to small and medium businesses would be a no-brainer. But running an effective sales operation still requires the fine art of learning how to engage with buyers and the ability to communicate the value of managed services. So here are some tips to keep in mind.

Always be helpful

Even though the inclination is to focus on generating revenue, you should approach the sales process with a focus on how you can help solve a potential client’s pain points. This way, your managed services sales strategy is aligned with what buyers need and want.

Make sure to do your homework in advance by researching the industry a company operates in, and whatever you can find out about their individual business. Then, learn to speak their language and capitalize on ways to differentiate your value.

Be transparent in setting expectations

Make sure you are clear about what you can and cannot deliver and be transparent in every interaction. This means being honest. Ask what level of service the prospect expects from you. This will help you develop your pitch and start building a relationship.MSPs are expected to have the latest offerings available in the market, so be prepared to invest and upgrade your systems to stay current. Obviously, it’s a bad look to fail to deliver fully on the service you promised.

Address the customers’ pain points

Focus on the customer in all your interactions with prospects. Show in concrete ways how you can help. For example, if storage is a problem, let them know you have a cloud storage service that can alleviate that while reducing their costs. Or, if they have experienced outages, find out how they have addressed them.

If it’s time for a follow-up, don’t start a conversation/email by saying you’re checking to see if they’re ready to pull the trigger. Instead, remind them about how your service can ease their stress and save them money.

Develop a strong marketing campaign

Demand for MSP services is growing, especially since the pandemic began, so you should be capitalizing on that. Your campaign should focus on the specific services you provide and how you can maximize a company’s ROI.

Make sure your marketing campaign casts a wide net and includes emails, Google Ads, and SEO, among other techniques, to reach a broad targeted base.

Educate your prospects

Often, you will encounter small and medium businesses that do not have a background in technology. They may not understand why technology and MSP services should be a part of their annual budget. It’s important to educate them without using technical jargon. Be patient and take the time to explain why something like a hurricane is not just a natural disaster — but can also wreak havoc on their business continuity. A company won’t buy a service its leaders don’t understand.

Make sure the price is right

Be sure to price your services aligned with the value you will provide rather than the costs you will incur. Focus on how you are different from your competitors and what your value proposition is.

Emphasize how the services you provide can solve their problems. Of course, there will be instances where the value of specific technologies, like Microsoft Office 365, is clear and obvious.

In this instance, you may want to offer a managed service around individual platforms and other types of managed services that are built from a range of different technologies, such as when you are selling comprehensive cybersecurity.

Be a valued partner

Once you have begun working with a company, make sure they are aware of the tangibles you provide, like monitoring systems 24/7. This will help detect inefficiencies that will improve their business. In addition, if applicable, highlight the fact that you offer consulting services that can be tailored to their business needs.

Or, set up periodic reviews to discuss their technology goals and changing needs to highlight the value you provide and underscore your ability to be a true business partner.

Depending on the vertical you are selling to, your opportunities to grow will correspond with your ability to present solutions to business barriers.

Related reading: Managed service provider agreements

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