MSP’s Guide on How to Get First Clients
The MSP market is more competitive than ever before. With the current array of providers, crafting a unique competitive advantage and differentiating your services from those of others is a challenge. Thus, the main question for any startup MSP owner is - where to find first prospects?
Finding that very first MSP client is critical to shaping the future of your business. In this guide, we offer eight tips on how to get MSP clients, and to help customers find you.
Top Tips to Land Your First MSP Client
#1. Ask for a Referral
Almost every MSP will tell you how to get MSP clients using your existing client base as a biggest opportunity: referrals. It costs nothing to ask for referrals, and doing so has a high success rate.
Even if you are new to the game, while starting your own MSP, you most likely already have an IT background, clients you’ve served before, and contacts in the IT industry. Don't be afraid to ask for them for referrals.
Further reading How to Get Managed Services Client Referrals
#2. Use Essential Communication Channels
To become visible, make sure that you've provided your prospects with fully functional communication channels, and you are ready to accept requests.Start with exploring the ways the potential clients might reach out to you, and make them accessible.
Start by developing a solid and attractive website that highlights the scope of your services. As simple as it may seem, from your organization’s email to the physical address and all relevant phone numbers, make sure that your information is correct, all modes of contact are functional and that you’re properly staffed to respond to inquiries. Also, be sure that your Contact Us section is visible across all modes of communication and that you are using this tool to advertise your firm to potential MSP clients.
One more tool for presenting you as a reliable IT service provider is reviews on Google Maps, which will help you receive more web traffic and thus more inquiries via your website. MSPs consider around 50 5-star reviews to be an average number of ratings.
Also, don't forget to put info about your business in local business catalogs, yellow pages, 4square, and so on. Being present in local communities in LinkedIn or Facebook is also a way to find your potential customers.
Further reading Sell Your Managed Services Effectively with LinkedIn
You can also try local advertising via Google Ads, however, this advanced feature should be implemented by advertising experts only.
#3. Call the Prospects
Yes, cold calling sounds dull and everyone hates it. And yet, it works when done properly and used in the right context. Cold calling is an especially useful B2B lead -generation tactic for small businesses whose ability to reach customers in other ways is limited.
To make cold calling work, start by performing research on the company you will be reaching out to. Check out their website, social media channels and so on. Make sure you understand their vertical and the IT pain points that are common in it, too. Coming into the call prepared to talk about how you helped a similar company is another effective way to start off on the right foot.
When the call starts, make sure to listen carefully to the prospect. Don't overwhelm him or her with your sales pitch. Ask questions and respond thoughtfully to build rapport. Be sure to respond meaningfully, too, to the prospect's questions. If there is a question you can't answer convincingly off the top of your head, promise to get that information, rather than trying to make up a response on the spot.
Business success is really about building mutually beneficial partnerships. Some well-established MSPs with a large clientele may come across clients that are too “small” for them. Move-in and make their small clients your first MSP clients. You can offer your competitors a commission to refer these small clients to you—which, per industry standard, typically amounts to one month’s recurring revenue. Partnering with larger MSPs can also be beneficial for you allowing you to offer comprehensive IT services such as NOC or SIEM solutions. Large MSPs have enough resources and set infrastructure, so you can outsource these services to them, but still be able to offer them to your clients.
Another common practice is for new MSPs to buy other small MSP companies, along with their clients. You can offer to solve the issues that the previous company didn’t, and give them a discount to make your offer even more attractive.
#5. Find Who’s Hiring
One more tip for getting new clients could be calling local businesses who are hiring sysadmins or an IT team at the moment and explaining to them that managed provider’s services are more cost effective and flexible than keeping an IT team on staff.
Further reading Managed Service Providers vs In-House IT Administrators
#6. Find Your Vertical
When the decision to start an MSP has been made, an appropriately focused entrepreneur begins to explore factors such as:
- Deciding on the scope of services
- Exploring funding options
- Highlighting strengths and weaknesses
- Narrowing down your target market
- Answering the four Ps of Marketing
In addition to the above elements, it is critical to determine your vertical industry focus at this stage, because the MSP market is a crowded space. If you do not have a differentiation, you compete on price only.
You can specialize in certain services, such as BDR or security. But you can also become an expert in a certain vertical market where you combine your in-depth technical knowledge with industry understanding. In this case, you sell both types of expertise and can offer services with a greater margin.
To take this approach, you first need to get to know the market you are going to serve. Understand the vertical, what its requirements are, what's important to customers in it, what problems they have from the business point of view, and so on. This is just as important as the technical dimensions of the vertical.
Companies are looking for experts, and building a niche offers advantages that help differentiate your services from those of competing businesses.
- You can choose your industry focus based on location—for example, a company based near a major shoreline can look for MSP clients from the marine sector. Creating an industry focus is recommended over trying to offer services to everyone.
- The second way of choosing your vertical is determining what expertise you already have and where your passion lies.
- Finally, if you already have an MSP client in a specific vertical, such as healthcare, you can deepen your expertise and go after more companies in that vertical.
Which managed services verticals should you target? Verticals can vary across industries, and it’s important for MSPs to find the one that best suits their business, their skills, their location, and current customer base.
There are a few verticals that are popular among MSPs listed below:
Healthcare is a growing field. In addition to clinics and hospitals, you can focus on home healthcare, private practices, residential care facilities, and nursing sub-markets.
One huge leverage point in healthcare is HIPAA compliance. HIPAA, which stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a complex set of rules, standards, and guidelines for protecting sensitive patient data.
Further reading HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Backup
Medical companies need IT management that is HIPAA compliant and can provide data efficiency, reliability, and security.
Managed IT service providers can offer RMM solutions, email security, endpoint encryption, backup and disaster recovery, and data retention solutions to those customers.
It’s also worth noting that medical practices are often very tight on budget, so focusing healthcare can be quite tough in terms of upselling services, or renewing the equipment.
In both primary and higher education, there are a lot of opportunities for MSPs since they can handle all the in-house IT work that is usually delayed due to a lack of funds for permanent hiring of IT staff in education.
Here MSPs can deploy IT and RMM automation solutions to provide IT functions, such as security, helpdesk, patches, software updates, and device management.
Hospitality and Restaurants
In this business area, things are always moving. The biggest area where MSPs can help hospitality businesses is MDM or mobile device management. There are a lot of mobile devices that are designed to help managers to be productive and efficient. But without proper IT management, hotels and restaurants can soon run into big problems.
Thus, MSPs can offer value by providing monitoring and remote support, MDM, security services, and compliance assistance (such as PCI DSS compliance) in the hospitality industry.
Further reading MSP Voice #26: HOSPITALITY AS A VERTICAL with Krunal Patel
#7. Master the Art of Personal Sales and Customer Service
No matter how much marketing evolves, creating a genuine connection to each MSP client will always make a difference. Make an effort to stop by clients’ offices personally to introduce yourself and your company’s services. Provide them with an information leaflet that contains key details of your services, such as pricing, and explain why your services stand apart.
#8. Weave a Credible Business Network
To enhance marketing opportunities, and introduce your services to more people, try networking with other business owners - join a Chamber of Commerce, for instance. A lot of local businesses rely on the Chamber heavily for introductions/referrals. Developing business relationships through networking will help spread the word about your services.
Even if you don't get a referral, well-structured groups still have value. You learn how to talk about your business and how to present your services in a proper form.
#9. Don’t Let the Potential Power of Discounting Fool You
After days, weeks or even months of searching, finding your first MSP client may seem like a very steep uphill climb. But even in the most uncertain times, DO NOT give away your services for free or at deeply discounted rates!
Even though this may seem like a good strategy to entice customers, it will not play out well over time, since it diminishes the perceived value of your offering. In many cases, clients will often push for even lower prices when an MSP seems willing to offer reductions to get them to sign a contract.
#10. Go Social
Using social media as a sales channel requires a fair amount of effort, because you need to maintain active social media accounts, share meaningful content, and monitor the activity of your potential prospects. Still, social media is an effective sales channel. They offer the additional benefit of being a good way to build your overall brand image.
To use social media effectively for sales, focus on social media platforms where potential customers are likely to be active. LinkedIn, local business groups on Facebook and Reddit subreddits related to IT and MSP services are a good place to start.
You can pitch your services directly to potential customers via social media, but a more effective strategy is to engage in discussions and share relevant content that will draw customers to you. Your goal should be to demonstrate your expertise and helpfulness.
Placing ads on social sites can help drive sales, too. However, these ads are usually quite expensive, so you'll want to be very strategic about where you place them and what they say. Consider using an ad consultant's help to avoid wasting your budget.
Besides the tips on how to get MSP clients, you should know what makes your company unique for prospects. In other words, you should be able to answer the question:
“So if I own a company that is within your target market, why are you so special and what's going to make me choose you over the next guy?”
Most importantly, have faith in your company’s vision and the quality of your company’s services. Your business is only as good as you think it is. If you take pride in your product offering and value proposition, clients can sense this and will be more willing to embark confidently upon building a relationship of trust with you.
Take charge and march ahead. Good luck!