Most IT managed services providers are quite proud of how proactive they are, especially in terms of technical services like maintenance, antivirus, warranty, etc. However, if we look at their client's IT savvy, operational maturity, and IT enablement, this is less true. Here are four easy tips to leverage Quarterly Business Reviews and implement the proactive mindset on a higher level.
If you do Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs), you can start working on these items immediately. If you’re not familiar with the term, just imagine you’re sitting down with your clients regularly for an informative and engaging business meeting.
1. Preparation for the QBRs
Skip the infrastructure based preparation for now. Let's concentrate on their business instead. Check their industry, and consult with a couple of people...try to understand their pressing needs right now. It can be sales, marketing, cash flow, internal processes, anything that is not IT. For an easy introduction to this conversation let's use the business conversation tool from our free MSP 2.0 Quickstarter Kit.
Here’s an example: check their LinkedIn profile. Is everybody from the sales department using LinkedIn? How many connections do they have? There’s a chance they are not big on business social media. Let's download some intelligence about LinkedIn and social selling and put together a 5 minute session for the QBR.
Let’s add more: look for Slack as an online collaboration hype. Sidekick is a nice sales automation tool out there. Check out Do.com for managing better meetings. Let's put those items on the agenda as HOT products... see what they think and have a conversation.
Sooner or later they are going to read about these software somewhere. If they get important IT based information from somewhere else, our position is redundant. We have to be the center of relevant knowledge on business IT.
2. Implement a killer agenda
Prepare a real agenda. Send it before the meeting, leave room for curiosity, and plan for it to be 60-90 minutes. Use do.com and demonstrate a well-organized meeting with a kick-ass tool. Put business issues into the agenda like "Suggested solutions for pressing needs: sales, marketing, cash flow." Include items to ensure we do not just talk, but act: "Clarifying the deliverables for the next Quarterly Plan," or "Review of IT Productivity Initiative."
It may even sometimes sound trivial, but you need to present it with a proactive mindset. We do not want them to have to ask us about training their users, or what is hot out there. We have to act before they find out about so many opportunities they could leverage from somebody else. We need to be the fountain of great information. Keep in mind you can use this one agenda, with custom modifications, for every client for the given quarter.
3. Forget Bomb reports
Bomb reports and infrastructure reports are fading into the past. Now we are on top of the game, and they should not have any critical issue with support. It can be mentioned in passing that every possible gauge is green and not to worry. They are paying us to keep them green. Don’t forget that customer behavior, motivation and problem awareness has changed dramatically. There are still of course companies out there without decent infrastructure. For them the traditional IT reports are a must, educating them and setting expectations. But sooner or later we solve those problems so we have to move forward. If their IT maturity grows, we have to adjust our reports as well.
There is a better way to use business type gauges: Graders, and Opportunity Sheets. These tools put together checklists on clients’ use of best practices, processes, and so on. We just check whether they are being used, and we can come to a conclusion whether they are working effectively.
For example, we check for productivity and ask about emails, best practices, file sharing, searching for documents, version control, etc. In just a few minutes they have a grade on a scale from 1-5. If they are missing three points then we let them know we should have a talk. Believe me, they’ll be much more interested in that than in expiring warranties and quotes for the replacement of devices that are working fine.
4. Campaigns to release peer pressure
Prepare for a campaign every quarter and your MSP sales and development goals can skyrocket. Imagine this: June is the month of security. We do benchmarks sets for every client who signs up as well as teach best practices, prevention for users, basic safety guidelines, and do a Disaster Recovery Plan with 30% discount.
The idea is to make sure everybody is on board. It’s easier to make it a campaign and do 10 DRPs with a discounted rate rather than selling individually. Also, it is easier to communicate the campaign through emails, and brochures.
Every month or every quarter, you need some unique flavor to show them your skills.
If you are a pro, you can create batched events for that. For example, classroom training, seminars for managers, users among your clients, launch-and-learn sessions for executives. Let's lead the community. When people see their peers working on the same things, they can feel more urgency to take action, and are often more actively involved in solving the problems rather than just discussing them..
Change the conversation: be proactive about their business, not just their IT infrastructure. Let's move and shake them every quarter and create a community of IT savvy executives who you can lead to progress. If you do, your client base will give you the necessary growth without extraordinary new customer acquisitions, and your referral engine will fire all cylinders!