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Build a Better MSP - Blog

3 min read

Why MSPs are not closing business enough

By Mark Woldman on Aug 5, 2019

You pro­vide a great ser­vice, the price is right, your mar­ket­ing cam­paign is spot-on, yet very few deals are actu­ally clos­ing? Does this sound like your com­pany? Sadly, a good offer often times isn’t enough to win a client over. Some­times a lower level com­peti­tor gets the busi­ness. Why? Bet­ter sales tech­niques. In order to go from con­tact to con­tract, you need to be one step ahead of your com­peti­tors, espe­cially as it relates to sales processes and tech­niques. Fol­low­ing are some help­ful tips that will help you close the sale faster – and eas­ier – than ever:

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5 min read

How Slack can be a revenue generator for your MSP

By Denes Purnhauser on Jan 29, 2016

Last week we went through how we can stop giving out free advice and making consultation a revenue generator. Let’s see that in practice. Our example today is Slack, the latest silicon valley unicorn (1B+ valuation). Slack, in most cases, is a free tool designed to enhance your internal communication. So how can we as IT service providers deliver value and earn revenue with this great tool.

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7 min read

The Fall of the Era of Free IT Advice

By Denes Purnhauser on Jan 21, 2016

 Many IT managed services providers (MSPs) and internet telephony service providers (ITPs) are suffering the challenges of charging for IT consultation. The IT industry has taught its customers that we sell big expensive boxed packages that come with free consultation, placing the value in the big boxes and none in the advice. There are no big expensive boxes anymore, but still the advice remains free. However a systemic shift is taking shape finally reversing this conundrum. It is about offering low-cost SaaS applications and solutions with high-grade consultation fees, placing more value in the advice rather than the tool.

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1 min read

Transform your MSP sales approach

By Denes Purnhauser on Dec 8, 2015

Branden Baker, President of Integration Technologies from Hawaii is a modern Tom Selleck. He shares a story about the transformation of his sales approach.

His team had not been able to close any MSP deals for more than a year. But he got involved in the vCIO conversation and after only a few weeks he landed his first monster six-figure deal.

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3 min read

Break your sales barriers with Ian Altman

By Denes Purnhauser on Dec 4, 2015

We are starting our "MSP 2.0 bestseller" monthly book review. We want to start strong, so the first book of this series is the new consultative selling holy bible, Same Side Selling. The co-author, Ian Altman, CEO of Grow My Revenue, is a sales visionary, bestselling author, Forbes contributor and keynote speaker.

While speaking with Ian it became clear he knows how to win the hardest battle IT managed services providers have ever faced: commoditization of the IT infrastructure services and the resulting price pressure, shrinking margins, and the lack of differentiation from competition.

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2 min read

MSP 2.0 Podcast

By Denes Purnhauser on Nov 27, 2015

We have been producing interviews with MSP Thought Leaders and with our clients for more than a year now. We started this as an ad-hoc practice to usher great MSP 2.0 insights into the community. People seem to be enjoying the free interview format without presentation, special offers and other sales tactics.

Now with over 16 interviews we’ve received a ton of feedback and the message we’re getting most often is to make the content available in a podcast format. Many people like listening to these inspiring talks during their commute, or just in the background.

So we have transferred all videos to a Podcast format and it’s available here.

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1 min read

Closing 11 Virtual CIO contracts in 3 weeks

By Denes Purnhauser on Nov 20, 2015

Greg Tanner from Denver is a maverick, no question about it. His “Technology Quarterback™” slogan has become a meme among the MSP 2.0 community. We spoke the other day and I am still speechless. He started crafting this vCIO offering back in June, piece by piece, and started selling it in early October. Since then he’s closed 11 virtual CIO contracts with over 20K MRR! In this video, Greg shares the secrets to these amazing results. Be aware, he has very strong opinions about MSP 2.0. (Even stronger than me - Haha!)

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1 min read

Cold calling best practices with Carrie Simpson

By Denes Purnhauser on Oct 1, 2015



Carrie Simpson, Founder and CEO of Managed Sales Pros is the one and only MSP Cold Calling guru- an expert on what drives tangible results. Though we are very much focused on the inbound marketing side of lead generation, we cannot deny the potential performance of cold calling.

I was really interested in her best practices in getting leads over the phone, and surprised by some of the hints and tips Carrie shared with me. She talks on how to overcome call reluctance, how to build a winning script, and how to best manage the time investment.  

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4 min read

5 ways MSPs can leverage Business Model Canvas 

By Denes Purnhauser on Sep 24, 2015

Business Model Canvas has been a very hot management tool recently. Personally I have created 100+ Business Models over the last couple years for clients and for our companies. One of our companies is even a "Use Case" in the Hungarian edition of the Business Model Generation Book. We have developed different ways for IT managed services providers to use the tool for different reasons. Let's take a look at 5 practical ways to leverage this tool.

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3 min read

Leveraging the IT Quarterly Business Reviews

By Denes Purnhauser on Aug 21, 2015


Many IT managed services providers are doing some type of Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR) and most have trouble delivering it with the right cadence and voice.  It’s too technical and fails to shows business value to the executive team. Introducing QBRs poorly can backfire and land the MSP into a more technical role. Let's take a look at some cool techniques to engage clients with Quarterly Business Reviews.

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4 min read

Why do most professionals charge for advice while we MSPs do not?

By Denes Purnhauser on May 25, 2015

Isn't it a bit perplexing that doctors and lawyers can ask for $400 per hour for any and every consultation, but IT service providers are too shy to ask for $200 for their expert advice and often just give it for free? Why is the highest possible value MSPs give to the clients so devalued? Let's investigate this discrepancy and check out a couple quick tips for a solution. We are going to take a cue from Dentists.

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3 min read

Convert a business problem to an IT problem with ease

By Denes Purnhauser on May 19, 2015

A basic truth of sales is that you need to associate your services and products with the pain-points of your customers, so that what you offer is thought of when those problems arise. IT managed services providers are selling high-level concepts when the client has manifesting pain-points: slow server, slow internet, outages, severe duty service, etc. But what can an MSP do for a client who doesn’t recognize the snags and hurdles they have? Let’s take a look at an easy 5 minute solution to this problem.

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4 min read

Proactive Customer Development: Leverage your QBRs

By Denes Purnhauser on May 5, 2015

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.

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6 min read

The 6 Reasons MSPs Tend to Over-Deliver

By Denes Purnhauser on Apr 22, 2015

One of the most common laments we hear from IT managed services providers is over-delivery of too many different services. They feel they serve their clients more than needed and the services go unused by the clients. Account managers end up doing more IT consulting than they should, demands for IT consultation are unlimited, and the IT company invests time on IT projects that never start. Here we delve into the root of the problems and learn what to do about them!

Clients will start with questions like “What is the best application for this problem? Why are people not productive? How do we manage various IT related vendors?”, etc. However most IT companies do not have the right model for IT consultancy, and try to address those needs without a viable revenue model.

The result of over-delivery is diminished return on service investment. Not only do we do too much but at the same time we set unreasonable expectations with the client. We teach them that we do it for free, or that any request is covered already, and that blocks our ability to implement a profit model, if we even have one.

Let's quickly see the six causes of over-delivery and review a solution.

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2 min read

What is the one business skill MSP leaders can teach their clients?

By Denes Purnhauser on Dec 23, 2014

Transitioning into the role of trusted advisor can be difficult even to get started. Most MSP leaders are more comfortable discussing technology rather than business. That’s part of the reason we work in IT in the first place. But it’s time to step out of that technology comfort zone.
 
There must be a way “tech” people can engage in business conversations with non-technical prospects and clients. There is vast opportunity for MSP leaders to leverage their natural business acumen and become trusted advisors, in some specific areas.
 
One of these often overlooked areas is how to ship or deliver their products and services in a profitable way. Imagine that?! One of the most important yet overlooked aspects of a business is one that defines profitability.
 
But why is an MSP leader always better here than most of his clients?
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5 min read

Trusted Advisor or Technician, Which Pays More?

By Denes Purnhauser on Nov 28, 2014

Most IT managed services providers we work with suffer a fundamental problem: the definition of who they are. The lack of a clearly defined definition of the business can be the biggest obstacle they face to success in the MSP 2.0 environment. The statement "I am a tech" needs to change to "I am a IT consultant." Unfortunately people often underrate themselves because they lack an MBA or they’re uncomfortable with so called “sales.” This limits them and their teams in engaging with more clients and prospects in a meaningful business way.

However, being a business consultant is just a role, a mode of operation, a mindset and the subject can be anything technical. Consulting is a behavior, a set of skills and tools that anybody can learn and implement. We are creating a series about being a consultant so you can harness the power and reframe how your clients see you.

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8 min read

12 mistakes most MSPs make with their vCIO services

By Denes Purnhauser on Nov 20, 2014

The virtual CIO phenomenon is not new, yet the promises of the role have not been realized across the industry. Some mature IT managed services providers who believe they have a functioning vCIO practice, on closer inspection, still show challenges with delivery, scalability and profitability.

While we could go in depth to identify the root of these problems, instead here we'll highlight the twelve most common mistakes MSPs make with their vCIO. At the end of this article there is a questionnaire where you can measure yourself against other IT companies.

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5 min read

Monetizing Client Apps and SaaS Solutions the Smart Way

By Denes Purnhauser on Sep 7, 2014

If you’re like me, you’re often evangelizing cool applications, services, and vendors to your clients. You have a cool feature on your Todo application, or you were able to integrate your CRM with LinkedIn, or you just collaborated with your team with an awesome project management tool. We spread the idea because we are advisors by nature. The question is how can we capitalize on this habit? How do we create service offerings around SaaS-based applications?

I hope you have read our monster blog article about the business model changes of the MSP. In this model there is an item called "Marketplace" in the partnership section, there are revenue streams called "Marketplace Commission" and "3rd Party project management," and there is an activity called "Resell Vendors, Applications."

The idea here is quite a common practice among IT managed services providers - finding a problem on the client side and helping them with an application. After deploying, manage the usage, subscription, and processes of the application. IT companies are mostly infrastructure providers, so they do these types of activities but in an ad-hoc way. What’s new here is the proactivity and a defined structure for these types of services.

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1 min read

Webinar Takeaways on Selling IT Security and Compliance

By Denes Purnhauser on Aug 15, 2014

It was a really engaging talk with Steve Rutkovitz CEO of Choice Technologies. He is a very successful MSP practitioner specializing in IT Security and Compliance.

We were talking about MSP challenges, strategies, MSP sales processes, IT security and compliance opportunities and partnerships, and I learned the following:

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5 min read

MSP Game Changer Sales Ideas From The Book - "The Challenger Sale".

By Denes Purnhauser on Aug 13, 2014

 
I have been dancing around the intention to read a book called "The Challenger Sale" but kept not having the chance. There’s no shortage of titles to choose from regarding sales, and it can be know where to put one’s limited reading time, but last week Steve Rutkovitz a peer MSP CEO, said that this is a must read. He’s a smart guy and I gave it a try....
 
To be honest, that was one of the greatest books I have ever read in years especially in B2B sales. It was so refreshing, straight to the point, and so aligned with what we’re trying to do. So I decided to share my takeaways from the book by implementing them into the MSP sales process.
 
This book is not just ideas, concepts, or opinions. These are battle-tested facts supported thorough research with 6,500 samples. So enough of my accolades - let’s check out some thought-provoking concepts - in three big things:

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15 min read

The MSP 2.0 service offering in the 7C IT Management Framework

By Denes Purnhauser on Jul 27, 2014

We have been talking about the MSP 1.0 and MSP 2.0 business models recently. Now we are moving to the delivery side. What needs to be true to be able to say we do MSP 2.0?

The theories behind the business models are distinct from those behind the actual delivery. The MSP 2.0 model could be overwhelming as we’ve observed that changing the value proposition and solving the clients' IT management challenges means we must make numerous significant changes in our business approach.

We’ve developed the 7C IT Management Framework to solve this exact problem. It comprises a full suite of processes to enhance the IT management of clients in the 20-300 seat segment.
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18 min read

Cracking the code of the future of MSPs

By Denes Purnhauser on Jul 17, 2014

There’s been a lot of talk lately about a fundamental change in the MSP industry, and the subject may seem overwhelmingly complex. The change taking place is quite evident, but what’s inside the tornado? What is the force behind this change happening?

Understanding the underlying impetus will enable businesses to make more educated decisions where to drive their companies. Let’s demystify this change and put it in a very easy to digest format, as the core of the change is actually simple.

It is not our shortest Blog but I promise worth the read. You will see the change taking place and how it could help you drive enormous growth in the next couple years. So fasten your seatbelts!

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4 min read

The process of becoming the Trusted Advisor

By Denes Purnhauser on Jul 8, 2014

For Managed Services Providers (MSPs) the ultimate goal is becoming the ‘trusted advisor’ on all things IT.

We’ve created a process which enables MSPs to earn this trusted advisory role as fast as possible. The key is to understand the client, and in turn help them understand their situation and their opportunities.

Looking into the 7C Methodology and processes can be a tad overwhelming at first, we know. It’s so effective because it’s comprehensive, so there is a learning curve. However in our continuous effort to make everything as simple as possible, we’ll start by emphasising a couple of core concepts.

One of the crucial elements is the client reframing process. From the client’s perspective it’s a discovery process, the goal of which is to make the necessary transformation to start working with the client at a new level. The key component of the process is the Reframing 7C canvas workshop, where we ask questions of the client’s business in order to help the client rethink basic assumptions about IT and its management. Normally such a fundamental shift is a tough, very high level process, but if you’re properly prepared to ask the right questions and challenge the client, it can be a very easy and straightforward process.

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4 min read

Why are clients lately needing more consultative work from MSPs?

By Denes Purnhauser on Jul 5, 2014

So we all agree that IT companies are facing challenging times, right? We all need to figure out a new business model in the near future. But what about the clients? Are they facing a similar problem? We have to take a good look at what’s happening on the client side to understand the trend.

We’ll use a chart to make the explanation easier. We’re looking at how things have changed in the last couple years, and where it could go. 

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9 min read

MSP 1.0 vs. MSP 2.0 [video]

By Denes Purnhauser on Jun 20, 2014

MSP 1.0 is not widespread yet as a business model, and there is already the new 2.0 model.

What are the key differentiators between the two models? The following will refer to an average MSP 1.0 and MSP 2.0 practice.

We are assuming that the MSP 2.0 model is heavily supported by an MSP 2.0 framework, which is crucial. The differentiations may seem simplistic, but our aim is to show the possible limitations and challenges of the MSP 1.0 model, and the opportunities of the MSP 2.0.

Keep in mind that MSP 2.0 is not a substitution of the MSP 1.0 model. It is an expansion. You can move your existing 1.0 services forward, but with 2.0 as a companion the new options are going to be very promising.

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5 min read

How to decide whom to transfer from Time and Material to MSP contract?

By Denes Purnhauser on Jun 7, 2014

Every IT managed services provider wants to convert as many Time and Material clients to MSP contracts as possible. However not every client can benefit from the advanced services of the proactive MSP model.
 
Based on our experience, our clients, and our ITCq research, we’ve found there are certain types of companies that could not consume the MSP recurring services.

Identifying these companies is always a struggle, so here are a couple of tips to properly selling the MSP services.
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1 min read

How to easily make business rise from the ashes of wasted time in the workplace milieu?

By Denes Purnhauser on May 29, 2014

Awesome material from Biz 3.0!

Wasted time in the workplace is a substantial problem. How big exactly is not clear, but from the research we’ve seen, the cost to business is in the millions (if not billions) in lost productivity every year. The infographic below explains just how much time we waste at work, the ways we waste it, and how businesses are now trying grappling with the issue. The results may surprise you.

Share this awesome Infographic with your clients, and then just listen (but be prepared with a social media policy template - a must-have for every MSP 2.0 vCIO), and you’ll have a natural launch to your sales process!

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6 min read

Why are MSPs struggling with sales these days?

By Denes Purnhauser on May 29, 2014

 
 
Yes, even the MSP industry seems to be growing, and the majority of indicators are positive. While every statistic from analytics has varying reports of industry growth, all of them are very optimistic.
 
However, when we talk to individual IT managed services providers with fewer than 20 people the picture does not seem so rosy. They’re reporting problems with sales, cloud adoption, and transferring time & material (T&M) contracts to IT companies.
 
The IT world has undergone fundamental changes, and clients are not knocking on managed services providers' doors anymore. The most common report is the struggle with sales, 
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6 min read

Hard truth: the network assessment can end up as the an MSP's worst enemy

By Denes Purnhauser on May 14, 2014


Most IT managed services providers are heavily dependent on some form of network assessment practice during their MSP sales process. They gather information on all the prospect’s devices, identify problems and performance-related issues, and then present a comprehensive report, with an action plan that aims to fix those problems.

Although this practice can surely help win over new clients, it also can be the single most important obstacle they face down the road, in terms of further work with them.

The mistake is that the network assessment puts the MSP into the "techy slot". This is a matter of the client's perspective; executives put potential vendors into this slot to make their busy livese easier and simplify their world. There are slots in the executives' minds for many things: roles as consultant, service provider, software company or industry, HR, IT, or accounting. 

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7 min read

The 3 building blocks of a remarkable MSP sales process

By Denes Purnhauser on May 12, 2014

I’ve been talking with a fellow MSP entrepreneur recently about sales. He’s been suffering the inability to find the right someone for MSP contract sales, so he or the other directors are saddled with the sales work.

This is actually the usual situation among IT managed services providers... I see it all the time. The directors, CEOs and company presidents, are doing the sales for MSP services and neglecting their bailiwicks...developing the business.

The problem however is not HR, but the nature of the operation. Usually, when you find yourself unable to hire someone, and the high level staff are stuck doing it, you only see that symptom and not the root cause. In this case, the operational problem is causing the HR problem. The process is so complex that it narrows your field of potential hires. Only those with the most experience can manage it, and those people are most needed in other roles.

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