Are You Effectively Managing Your Client Lifecycle?

Is your team is doing all it can to bring in new clients and keep the existing customers happy and productive? Those in the channel understand how difficult it can be managing an IT services business’ day to day activities while simultaneously building and executing its strategic growth plan.

With so many processes in play, it’s all too easy to let one or more of those responsibilities slide. The trick, for those building a successful managed services practice, is not to let that happen. Every process needs to be refined, documented and rehearsed repeatedly. Each program should be enhanced and evaluated regularly, with details of its objectives included in the company’s strategic business plan.   

The CompTIA Managed Services Community completed two projects over the past few months that will help providers understand what they need to get to the next level, from both a customer and business operations perspective. The first is a comprehensive “roadmap” for IT professionals looking to become highly successful MSPS. At the recent ChannelCon 2015 conference in Chicago, Community co-chair and Anchor Networks CEO Vince Tinnirello introduced the new Quick Start Guide: Six Steps for Building an Effective and Profitable Managed IT Services Business. This is a “must have” for those who are truly ready to begin building a managed services practice ─ especially since CompTIA has it available to download at NO COST

 

A Picture Comes to Life

The second tool the group developed is the lifecycle of a managed services client infographic, a visual roadmap of daily customer interactions and activities. Basically a pictorial description of an MSP’s vital business processes, the illustration can be used to validate that IT providers are following best practices and maximizing all their opportunities.

During the Managed Services Community meeting at ChannelCon, several members helped bring the infographic to life. Using the “gears” in the diagram as a guide, John Tippett, Community Chair and Vice President & General Manager at Aisle8 introduced four, expert lead mini-sessions, each focused on one key area of a managed services business. After splitting into separate groups, each leader shared his or her own insight and stories gathered over many years in the IT channel. Attendees were able to choose from two of the four different group discussions.      

  • Frank Ballatore, President of the New England Computer Group, Inc. lead the marketing topic, focusing on best practices that successful MSPs use to promote their business.  
  • Charles Love, Director of Service and Cloud Operations for Big Sur Technologies covered the service section.   
  • Kelly O’Bray, Community Manager for LogicNow highlighted opportunities for growing and enhancing client relationships.
  • Amy Luby, Vice president of Sales and Marketing at ETS (formerly Erbs Technology Services) rounded out the discussions with a focus on managed services sales best practices.

In her session, Luby shared highlights of the actions she took after joining ETS earlier this year, including assessing the company’s strengths as well as the skills and abilities of her sales team. Before taking that step, she had to define what the organization did well. “We really didn’t know what we were good at, so the first thing we had to do was define who we were. After sitting down and pouring through the data, it became clear we had four distinct types of customers that were fairly even across the board (in regards to revenue).”

Next she wanted to know what products and services they were selling into each vertical. “The answer was virtually everything, but after some evaluation, we found six clear solution sets that we could build our solutions around.” Next she evaluated each individual team member’s strengths and career goals, and then she put several of them into more appropriate roles (for example, one is now excelling on their operations team). ETS then hired vertical specialists to help grow business opportunities in a more structured (and profitable) manner.  

Luby emphasized that while” change wasn’t easy, if it has a purpose, it’s worth doing. The key to managed services is you have to know what you sell, who you sell it to and be able to have conversations with end users. Of course, you have to close the sale.” That may not seem like a complicated process, but if your company doesn’t have best practices already in place in these MSP business-critical areas, it’s definitely time to research your options.

 

Brian Sherman is Chief Content Officer at GetChanneled, a channel business development and marketing firm. He served previously as chief editor at Business Solutions magazine and senior director of industry alliances with Autotask. Contact Brian at Bsherman@getchanneled.com.