Explaining managed services to customers is challenging. Customers traditionally have regarded IT service providers in a negative context: You show up when something goes wrong – a server failure, virus infection or network outage.
But as managed service providers (MSPs), your job is to stop these things from happening. The focus of IT services shifts from troubleshooting and remediation to proactive maintenance and prevention. From a customer’s standpoint, this is preferable. But try telling them that. Some will grasp the concept right away but others will need help. A lot of help.
You have to show customers why the managed services approach is better. There are several marketing tools you can employ in these efforts, and they include customer testimonials, written case studies and service demos.
Hardly anything is more effective in pitching a service than a customer reference. This is why homeowners ask for references when hiring a contractor. If you can prove your existing customers are happy, prospective customers will see that as a sign you can do the same for them.
Don’t be shy about asking existing customers to help. Ask for permission to share their contact information with prospects. Get written testimonials you can publicize on your website, social media and – if you publish one – blog. Some customers might be amenable to doing a video, so consider creating three- to five-minute videos of customers explaining the value of your services. Ask them to explain how you help their businesses run better.
Case studies are longer versions of customer testimonials. Now, instead of asking customers to provide quick snippets, you’re putting together detailed accounts of how they use your services. A case study can recount step by step how you met a customer, what the customer needed, and how you addressed the need.
The most compelling case studies tell a story. Perhaps a customer was losing business because of frequent server outages, an application was too old or a manual process was requiring too many staff hours for too little yield.
Provide details of how a hosted application you implemented, a managed power and cooling service or a new security tool addressed the client’s problem by boosting productivity and profitability.
Nothing beats seeing a solution in action to decide whether it’s worth the investment. Demos can be as general or as detailed as you want to make them. Keep your audience in mind. IT managers will want more technical detail but a C-level executive will be more interested in how the service supports the business.
A basic demo typically consists of a visualization of user interface, functionality and features. Some customers may require more information, so give them a proof of concept. A POC delivers a more in-depth look at the service by testing it at the customer site for a period of time, perhaps a week or a month.
The ultimate demo is a pilot run. Plug the service in and let the customer use it for a while. It will soon be obvious whether the customer sees value in the service. If they do once they see it in action, you should be well on your way to a long-term engagement.
Demonstrating value is key to selling managed services. The better you do it, the more likely you are to win business.