Managed service providers (MSPs) are in high demand as more businesses begin to outsource the management of their IT infrastructure. The global market for MSPs is expected to grow to $193.34 billion in 2019, up from $107.17 billion in 2014.
It’s not just small businesses driving the change. Advances in technology are bringing new opportunities and new concerns across the board, leading midmarket companies, enterprises and even cloud service providers to seek MSPs to oversee their IT and cybersecurity concerns.
How can you make your MSP stand out to this growing audience of potential customers? The key lies in addressing the challenges of running an MSP, promoting your services and delivering the experience clients expect.
Top Challenges for MSPs in the Modern Market
Among the major challenges MSPs face are marketing, staffing and training. Getting the attention of your target audience when there are so many businesses offering IT services can be difficult, especially if you’re also having trouble attracting good talent. MSPs also deal with the burden of keeping up with changing technology and the associated cybersecurity threats.
When you’re trying to juggle these concerns, it can be hard to focus growing your company. Here are a few ways you can lighten the load and start to overcome these common challenges.
1. Marketing and Promotion
Most MSPs serve less than 100 clients. If you want to grow, you need to develop a stronger marketing strategy. Lead generation can be particularly difficult, especially if most of your leads start with cold calls. Not everyone is comfortable with or proficient in this type of marketing, and training is required to ensure your team is equipped to recognize and connect with high-quality leads.
Generating leads online can also be a struggle. You have to know your target audience intimately in order to deploy strategies with the power to cut through the constant noise and drive traffic to your MSP’s website. However, the work doesn’t stop there. The average contract for MSPs is only one year, so it’s essential to nurture relationships if you want people to continue with your company in the long term.
2. Recruiting Top Talent
Successful marketing and sales both require skilled employees with a willingness to learn. Your tech team should be made up of the same types of people. However, competition for such talent is stiff, and a significant talent gap exists in the cybersecurity sector in particular.
Recruiting has become candidate-driven, and the most talented prospects are looking for companies promising opportunities for development and growth. Many businesses are turning to recruitment software to locate, hire and onboard the talent they need, and the same strategy could benefit your MSP. Recruiting platforms provide tools for managing applicants, identifying talented candidates and providing ongoing training to simplify the hiring process and increase retention rates.
3. The “Pains” of Business Growth
Growth is a double-edged sword for MSPs. Taking on more clients expands your reach and brings in more revenue, but it also puts a strain on your schedule and resources. There’s likely to be a delay between accepting a larger client load and acquiring the additional staff and infrastructure necessary to serve them, and this can have a negative impact on both operational efficiency and service quality.
Efficiency is essential, particularly for smaller MSP operations. If you want to maintain growth, you need to be able to handle a larger workload without any perceptible change in the level of service. Transferring common tasks like invoicing over to professional services automation (PSA) software takes some of the load off, and remote monitoring and management (RMM) platforms minimize delays with automated alerts and remote troubleshooting tools.
4. Clients Unaware of the Importance of Cybersecurity
Online threats are getting more sophisticated and more numerous, but businesses don’t always understand the true nature of the danger.
As an MSP, one of your challenges is to educate potential clients regarding the threats their companies face and the importance of proper security to protect against breaches and data loss.
Because of this lack of awareness, business owners may be wary of investing in services like business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR). They may see the expense as unnecessary or excessive, which makes it all the more important to emphasize the high value of your services.
How to Make your MSP Business Stand Out from the Competition
The biggest challenge is showing your target audience why they should choose your particular MSP instead of a competitor. All providers may appear to be alike to customers unaccustomed to shopping for managed IT services, but you know you have something your competitors don’t. Your marketing strategy needs to highlight the differences making your MSP unique by demonstrating the superiority of your products and services.
Talent, Resources and Service
Satisfied employees make great brand ambassadors, so promoting a healthy and engaging company culture is important when you’re looking to distinguish your MSP from the competition. By improving your talent acquisition strategy and providing ongoing professional development opportunities, you equip your company with skilled employees who want to stick around and are more than happy to help the business succeed.
With a strong, engaged team on board, your MSP can consistently deliver high-quality service to every customer. Training equips employees to handle common problems and troubleshoot effectively in unusual situations. As a result, issues are resolved more quickly, and customers come away with a positive impression every time.
Strategic Lead Generation
Who makes up your target audience, and what do they need from an MSP? Answer these questions, and you have the basis for a successful lead generation strategy. If you’re struggling to identify your ideal customer, get out of the office to meet with them face to face. Instead of just selling or networking, focus on connecting with people and having meaningful conversations. Attend conferences and trade shows, and monitor social media to get a feel for the major pain points your customer base deals with every day.
Take what you learn from these interactions and incorporate it into your employee training sessions. Have training specifically for sales, instructing your team in how to engage prospective customers and speak directly to their needs. Develop a content strategy to support this fresh approach to sales and marketing, offering informative content designed to show knowledge and share solutions with your audience.
It’s easier to identify and connect with a particular audience if you narrow your focus to one niche. Trying to cater to every industry often creates inconsistent marketing messages, which leaves you dealing with low-quality leads while your ideal customers get snapped up by competitors with more focused strategies
Choosing one specialized vertical, such as healthcare, manufacturing, education or non-profit organizations, allows you to hone your marketing to target a single group of people with clear, identifiable needs. From there, make a point of talking up the value of your services rather than trying to outdo competitors on pricing or scope. Show your audience how a relationship with your company pays off, and be sure to reflect this same message in all of your marketing channels.
Offering the Perfect Combination of Security Solutions
Security must be part of your differentiation strategy if you’re to deliver on the promises made in your marketing. Customers need to know the importance of prioritizing security and how your MSP can help put together a robust solution to protect against the most prominent threats.
Ideally, all businesses should have a single-platform solution where all necessities can be managed through a user-friendly interface. Scalability and affordability are key concerns, as are consistent backup services with reliable disaster recovery. Vendors like Acronis offer platforms designed for flexibility and easy deployment, making it possible for your MSP to offer customized security to every client.
Acronis also offers Backup-as-a-Service to provide automated cloud backups to any preferred type of storage. The software is easy to run, and you can restore everything from files to entire systems for clients. With these tools, your clients are able to continue serving their own customers without interruption even if a disaster or breach occurs.
Planning, diligence and consistency in these areas help your MSP meet the challenges of a highly competitive market and deliver the level of service your customer base expects. Stay focused on talent, service and unique marketing to make your MSP stand out as demand continues to rise.
Ready to grow your MSP business?
Consult with our experts today!
Learn more about our Cyber Security Landscape:
With an estimated $1 trillion in global damages in 2018, cyber crime is becoming a bigger issue every year. Business growth, an increasing reliance on the cloud and the expansion of Internet of [...]