What habits are IT Solution Providers and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) using to stand above their competitors? Read on for Richard Tubb’s ideas on habits to improve MSP success.
Charles Duhigg, author of the best-selling book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change is quoted as saying:
“Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”
I’ve become a huge advocate of habit building and have shared 3 ways to build better habits immediately.
However, in this article, I thought I’d share three specific habits that you can use to grow an MSP business.
These are habits that I used myself when running my own MSP business. These are also habits that I’ve observed hundreds of the world’s top MSPs using. Read on for my ideas and tips that can help with your MSP success.
Listening to your clients
When was the last time you listened to any of your clients?
Now, I’m not talking about responding to a service desk ticket or dealing with an emergency. Instead, I’m asking when you last called or visited your client to ask them how they are?
Some people might refer to this as “Account Management.” But, I’m not talking about speaking to your clients to sell them something.
(For an example of why this sales approach doesn’t work — think about how you treat your vendor partners. Do you look forward to your account managers’ telephone calls, or do you (as so many MSPs sadly do) avoid their call for fear of being sold to?)
No — I’m talking about speaking to your clients and really being interested in hearing how their business is going.
One habit I cultivated in my business was regularly calling one of my clients each week to ask them how business was going, and if I could help with anything.
This one-to-one approach may not feel scalable, but it was undoubtedly effective, and it reminded our MSP clients that we weren’t just there to fix tech problems — we were there to support them.
In fact, the owner of UK-based MSP Abussi, Craig Sharp, has gone a step further with this approach.
Craig visits his clients’ offices regularly and takes them cakes or donuts around! This “sweet touch” has seen Craig develop close client relationships over many years, and Abussi’s client retention rate is incredibly high. After all, people do business with people they know, like, and trust.
Could you remind your Professional Services Automation system to call or visit a client every week?
One element of Managed Services that can be pretty confusing is how quickly clients forget their pain!
When clients start working with you, they typically view you as the hero who fixes their problems and enables them to get work done.
But, if you do Managed Services well, proactively fixing issues before a client notices them, over time the client won’t feel any pain and start to ask you the dreaded question “What is it we’re paying you for?”.
Therefore, even though 90% of IT Support can now be done remotely, I’d encourage you to wisely use the time you free up through proactive support.
I’d encourage you to build the habit of Engineer floorwalks.
An engineer floorwalk is where one of your Service Delivery team visits a client site, not to fix a specific issue, but to check in on the client.
Your engineer might turn up at site under the pretence of checking the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), or perhaps checking a backup.
But before they leave the site, your engineer should take a walk around the client office and politely ask members of staff if there is anything they can help with.
When we used this tactic, we were shocked at the number of support tickets we uncovered that had otherwise gone unreported!
Printer issues, broken PCs, irritating Wi-Fi connectivity — the list goes on.
When we asked client’s why they hadn’t reported these issues, we heard a variety of answers from “We didn’t want to bother you”, through to “We never got around to it”.
Yet, these issues, left unfixed, can fester into sources of major irritation for client’s. It’s best to be aware of them and resolve them sooner, rather than later.
Similarly, our engineers rarely came back from these floorwalks without some new business!
You see, knowing that engineers aren’t salespeople, people opened up more often about new starters (who needed new PCs and licences), upcoming projects and other tidbits that led to quotes and proposals.
So, while an engineering floorwalk isn’t a sales activity, it often does lead to new opportunities. This is one habit worth cultivating!
Follow-up with sales prospects
The final habit I’d suggest you cultivate is simple but hugely effective.
At least once per week, sweep your sales pipeline and follow up with prospects.
All too often, as MSPs, we get so caught up in the day-to-day service delivery. This means we don’t keep an eye on sales leads. And if we don’t follow up with sales leads effectively, we can often lose the opportunity altogether.
So, I’d encourage you to set a reminder every day. Reminder yourself to follow-up with a specific sales lead to see how you can help them.
When I was running my MSP business, this was often as simple as reaching out to a lead. I’d then ask, “Is there anything you’re waiting on me for?”.
Alternatively, for those leads that had gone quiet, instead of pestering them for a decision, I’d send them an article I saw that related to their challenge and say “I saw this and thought of you”.
By the way, I’ve found this approach even works with former clients!
The bottom line here is that you need to remain front of mind for sales prospects. You can only do that if you’re staying in touch with them.
How can you utilize your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to remind you to build this habit?
Conclusion on MSP success tips
Habits are the things we do every day, every week, every month and every year that lead us toward success.
Good habits are small, but incredibly important intentional steps in the direction we want to head.
Based on my experience, small habits such as staying in touch with your client’s, sending engineers out for floorwalk visits, and staying front of mind with sales prospects might not seem hugely important, but over time, they are the habits that top MSPs employ.
What habits could you implement in your business?
Read more MSP success tips:
- MSP burnout – how to recognize it and take action
- MSP mental health – tips and resources