Are managed service providers (MSPs) terminally unique in their business challenges? In other words, do they face unique challenges — such as in billing customers and in sales — all because they’re selling intangibles, not tangible products?
No, they’re not terminally unique. Information-technology service providers face the same issues as most companies in traditional intangible sectors, such as insurance.
But many MSPs have problems coping with typical challenges, according to a 2014 study by IT Europa. (IT Europa, www.iteuropa.com, is a leading provider of strategic business intelligence, news and analysis on the European IT marketplace.)
Actually, in their quest for profits, all businesses have to work to solve the following issues:
— Quality products and services
— Controlling expenses/cash flow
— Management/human resources
— Customer service and retention
— Strategic planning
The events and sectors might differ, but best practices in other industries are applicable and transferable to MSPs.
The study’s key findings:
– Channels need to know how to charge for services: with falling prices for hosting and cloud services, the MSPs need to differentiate. One of the issues that came out of the study is that they have concerns over rising competition.
However, on the client side, there is a rising need for expertise and skills in making it all work, particularly when linking in to legacy systems, so there is a clear role for MSPs to use any vertical market expertise they have to provide an essential service, and charge for it.
– Clearer propositions are needed: delivery models should offer the flexibility and scalability that the study shows customers expect and which MSPs are glad to provide; but they may need explaining better; the industry is so new, and growing so fast it has yet to get its marketing message straight.
– MSPs need all the help they can get, in marketing, tools, integration and to use all the available skills and resources.
MSPs told the study that they have real concerns in finding the right partners, particularly among vendors, citing quality of support and quality of product as the two main things they regard as important or very important, especially by smaller MSPs.
– Many of the people in the study had concerns over enterprise mobility; mainly because of the scale of involvement, pace of change and the integration issues. There are just not that many people around who have done it to the scale that is coming.
So, the challenges are typical. Solutions in other sectors are applicable for MSPs, too.
From the Coach’s Corner, here are some of those solutions:
5 Reasons for a Strategic Plan and its 6 Key Elements — Are you ready to compete? Is your company like many that need to rethink their strategic plans? Here are some tips in strategic-planning basics.
For Stronger Profits, Avoid 11 Typical Pricing Mistakes — In general, how can you manage the sweet spot – between your price-optimization and costs? Dennis Brown of the consulting firm, Atenga (www.atenga.com), says many companies make 11 pricing mistakes:
Create Buzz to Win Your Major Marketing Campaign — There are many reasons for marketing failure of a campaign. Here are 14 of the more important reasons.
The 7 Steps to Higher Sales — Secrets for sales success – seven steps to higher sales, five value perceptions that motivate customers to buy, and the three-step process for overcoming sales objections.
HR Management: 3 Values to Deliver Top Customer Service — The three values needed to achieve top customer service are easy-to-understand but arduous to achieve. But if your human resources program adopts and implements these values, you’ll achieve enviable organizational effectiveness – a high performance culture – for strong revenue.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.