In my last 2 posts hereand here I discussed the worsening economy and its impact on the spending behavior of business owners, who tend to tighten their belts during periods of economic uncertainty, and look to cost-cutting measures in order to "hunker down" until the storm blows over.

 

In extreme conditions, these same business owners also look to staff reductions and outsourcing labor-intensive business functions such as HR, Payroll and IT Services, which is an excellent opportunity for the well-prepared Managed Services Provider to capitalize upon.

 

 

With the proper messaging and an effective marketing and sales process, MSPs will be more successful at winning business and more profitable in 2008 than System Builders, reactive break-fix and professional services providers. Let's explore how we can tailor our marketing message, value proposition and sales approach to take advantage of the current economic climate and increase our revenues.

 

 

4 types of service providers

 

 

Remember our 4 types of service providers, and their challenges and strengths?

 

 

  • System Builders

  • Reactive Break-Fix Service Providers

  • Professional Service Providers

  • Managed Services Providers

 

Although each group of these service providers are very different from the others, there are some strategies which can be employed by all groups to maintain and increase profits.

 

Strategies for all Service Groups

 

 

The key to maintaining and growing profits is to target the right clients initially. Generally, the more dependent upon technology a client is, the easier it is to sell them solutions that increase their efficiencies and productivity and mitigate business pain and risk. So we are looking for heavily technology-dependent clients and verticals and technology-strategic clients. Technology-strategic clients are those that see their IT investments as strategic investments to help them achieve their goals. These are the best clients to have, and economic downturns will have less of an effect on their IT purchasing decisions than it will on other clients. In fact, in many cases the effect may be the opposite, as these clients see these periods as an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by investing in their technology and infrastructure.

 

 

These clients will more readily understand and welcome our requirements for vPro and Centrino Pro enabled desktops and laptops, as they will see these technologies as investments in maintaining their uptime, efficiencies and profitability - especially when TCO is a factor.

 

 

Messaging and Marketing

 

 

True for all service provider groups, effective messaging and marketing is the key to increasing client opportunities, but what messaging is the most effective during uncertain economic periods? Messaging that conveys the following concepts seem to work well when illustrating the benefits of vPro and Centrino Pro technology:

 

 

  • Cost savings

  • Improved efficiency/productivity

  • Pain reduction

  • Risk mitigation

 

A consistent marketing process is crucial to maintaining a consistent sales funnel of opportunities, and increasing marketing activities over historical levels for all service provider groups is recommended in 2008 and beyond. Look to vendor co-sponsoring opportunities and leverage marketing development funds wherever possible in order to defray costs. Include multi-vendor participation for local events where your message can be delivered to large groups, instead of individuals.

 

Final Thoughts

 

 

In order to maximize service revenues during uncertain economic times:

 

 

  • Reduce internal costs wherever possible

  • Look to tools and technology such as vPro and Centrino Pro, process and procedure to increase your internal efficiencies and utilization

  • Partner with other providers and vendors to deliver services as needed

  • Target technology-strategic and technology-dependent clients and verticals

  • Build deep client relationships as your clients' Trusted Advisor and outsourced CIO to ward off competitive threats

  • Leverage Vendor and Distributors' services and support offerings, as well as other benefits such as spiffs and special offers and Marketing Development Funds

  • If your client base averages less than 26 users, move up to the 26-100 user space

  • Add financing as an option to each and every Proposal

 

These are just a few of the things we, as service providers, can due to maintain and grow our profits in 2008 and beyond.

 

Erick Simpson