Hunting for a competitive edge takes more time than most MSPs have available. Clients need help. You’re out doing your best to impress prospective ones. System monitors are failing and flashing. How could you possibly think about planning future success with so much needing your attention right now?
Take a deep, relaxing breath.
We took some time to gather six secrets your fellow IT companies use to discover their key selling points, and the most profitable MSP services. With these tips, you’ll learn how to isolate your competitive angle, and investigate additional services you could offer (if you don’t already) to increase cashflow and recurring monthly revenue.
6 Secrets for Finding Key Differentiators for Your IT Company
1. Define You Before Your Competitors Do
Even if they offer the same product or service, there’s something unique to every company that could be harnessed as a competitive advantage. Stating, “We’re the best,” is not enough. Words like better, and best are empty to client ears if there’s nothing to back up the claim. The true path towards a competitive edge begins with discovering what makes your business and/or offering unique.
In his article for Smart Marketing Solutions, Angelo Biasi offers advice for IT companies looking to determine their key differentiator. “A key differentiator should be unique, measurable and defendable. It should answer the client-seeking question ‘Why should I purchase the product or service from you, versus all other alternatives on the market, including purchasing and/or doing nothing?’” He adds, “A business that exists without a key differentiator is sending the message ‘Buy from me for no particular reason,’ or ‘Buy from me, simply because I need the money.’”
Biasi’s article includes a simple worksheet for determining your differentiator. It’s worth the time if you’ve never done one before.
2. Let Your Clients Do the Work for You
Perhaps your current key differentiator has gone stale. It happens. Businesses change with time. As do the competitive landscape, and client needs. Perhaps your current differentiator lacked momentum to begin with. In these cases, Biasi recommends gathering feedback from the voices that matters most: your clients.
Ask your most reliable/trusted ones to answer the following questions:
- When you approach me for guidance or input, what do you expect to occur?
- What kinds of issues do you count on me to solve for you?
- What would you say is my special gift or talent?
- What would you say to someone else in describing what to expect from me?
- In a word or two, how do you expect to feel following an interaction with me?
- What’s your sense of how I might be excluding potential clients or opportunities?
- Why might someone choose NOT to purchase my product or service?
- What measures could I take to create more opportunities or a stronger identity or image?
Their responses could help point you in a new direction to knock out the competition.
3. Train to Gain
The likelihood of your competitors offering access to quality end-user training is low. Consider adding end-user software training to your services mix. If your clients have a stronger grasp of how to use the applications they’re working with daily, the chances are they’ll add less strain to your company’s bottom line.
4. Evaluate Your Competitor’s Sales Differentiators
How quickly could you name all of you local competitors and their stated advantages over your company’s offering? Having (and constantly maintaining) a competitive landscape reference aids in finding new opportunities for your company. Frank Bauer’s article Understanding Your Managed IT Services Competitive Landscape plots the steps needed to compile this critical insight:
- Rely on broad and targeted Google searches to identify the competition. Try “managed services [INSERT CITY NAME]”, or “IT companies [INSERT CITY NAME] to start. Add your findings to an Excel spreadsheet.
- Rely on services like LinkedIn and Manta to understand the company size and demographics. Whether you’re smaller or larger could be used to your advantage when winning a prospect.
- Learn what your competitors offer - and how they present it - from their website. Look for difference between what they offer and what you offer.
- Talk to your clients - especially those who were competitive wins. Feedback from this segment of clients can be developed in competitive campaigns and other sales strategies.
Organize your findings on the spreadsheet, and make reviewing it a routine. Your competitors are just as eager to find a winning edge. They’ve got their eyes on every move you make. Return the favor frequently.
5. Focus on Services and Solutions that Work
That’s the strategy Guy Baroan, founder of Baroan Technologies, shares with Storage Craft in an interview about which IT services were the most profitable. If the focus is taken away from which specific services you should offer, and you concentrate on which ones technicians spend less time troubleshooting. Profit emerges from the time gained.
It can be difficult to find differentiators that also drive good margins. We get it, and we can help. Consider end-user training services for your clients; it’s a value-added differentiator that simultaneously builds a solid revenue stream. Sound like a dream come true? It is. Learn more.
6. Study Where the Industry’s Headed Next
Last November, ChannelE2E.com published their Top 10 MSP Predictions for 2016 - which included insights from conversations with dozens of industry sources. It’s a quick, informative read, and a great source for you to seek ways of evolving your offer mix.
According to the article, the MSP market is expected to reach $229.59 billion by 2020. If you find a key differentiator the resonates with clients, continue to out-deliver the competition, and incorporate the right mix of services into your offer, you’re bound to grow your managed services business.