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Build a Better MSP - Blog

2 min read

5 Reasons You Lose Deals to Your Competitors

By Mark Woldman on Oct 18, 2019

Are you struggling to sell Managed Services?

If you are struggling to sell services, don't worry, you are not alone. MSPs of all sizes are feeling the pinch when it comes to sales, so this struggle is not exclusive to you. 

Factors such as increases in competition, frugal clients, poor product positioning, diminishing referrals and lack of overall strategy, cumulatively contribute to a continual decline in sales.

Leads are at an all time low and the cost of generating leads is at an all time high. In light of this, it is more important than ever to utilize ways to set yourself apart from the crowd, secure your role as an industry expert and thus, gain credibility from existing and future clients.

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4 min read

Unleash Your Growth Potential

By Denes Purnhauser on Oct 11, 2019

Whether you’re a “one-man-band”, an emerging MSP with a handful of people, a team about to reach the 20 people mark or even a large 50+ organization you have one thing in common: you may have reached a growth plateau and want to unleash your potential to get to the next level. In hindsight you can recognize that it all comes back to bottlenecks in your organization’s capabilities to unleash those potentials role by role: Account Management, vCIO, Technical Account Management, Sales, Cybersecurity and even the owners. All of them have low-hanging-fruit opportunities and by snagging those you can get to the next level in a smooth, predictable way.

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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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4 min read

Five principles behind an engaging Quarterly Business Review process

By Denes Purnhauser on Jan 12, 2017

 

In our design of the new Quarterly Business Review tool we wanted to ensure that MSPs can find business opportunities with existing clients, enhance the quality of their engagement, become a business partner and demonstrate the value they provide all at once. Achieving those multiple goals in the midst of commoditization of traditional infrastructure management services requires finding a balance among five different strategies. Let's check those success factors to make sure you deliver timely and engaging QBRs.

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6 min read

5 false Myths of Managed Services

By Denes Purnhauser on Aug 26, 2016

As we have been talking with hundreds of Managed Services around the world we have been able to identify several common beliefs, and even myths shaping their thoughts.

The biggest problem here is that these beliefs were valid in the past. The times when the MSP model founded and spread across the world, these concepts were helping people to sell and execute services. However as the market went forward with the tectonic shift of consumerization, cloud, mobile and the overall maturity of IT, these beliefs are no longer valid.

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4 min read

Managing "unrealistic" expectations

By Denes Purnhauser on Jul 25, 2016

I just watched a hilarious 2 minute Youtube video where a comedian recounted the tale of someone righteously indignant over the atrocious inconvenience of the wi-fi breaking up during his trans-Atlantic flight. It made me ponder the trend of setting unrealistic expectations when it comes to technology. We have a short memory for problems fixed, take progress for granted and miss the chance to revel in our achievements.

Then I was thinking that perhaps this reminds you of a type of client of yours who is spoiled by all the progress and never satisfied. Who set these unrealistic expectations? How can we make sure we're not creating the problem ourselves? Check out this quick video and see what we can do to prevent it happening.

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3 min read

Three canvases for MSPs to make communication work with clients

By Denes Purnhauser on Jun 20, 2016

Having been inspired by the business model canvas, we started our own IT Management Canvas almost three years ago. We’re thrilled to see how creatively people adopt the canvas with the related questionnaire and instigate vibrant client engagement. Through our development of vCIO and IT Security related assessments, the new canvases have been born. Let's check out the revision of the original IT management Canvas, the IT Security Canvas and the vCIO Canvas.

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4 min read

Terrible buying process for Managed Services

By Denes Purnhauser on Jun 10, 2016

People are talking about MSP sales processes when it comes to discussion of new client acquisition. I believe we should see the process from the customer's perspective and realize that the buying process for them is terrible. Given the current typical buying process, a working future strategic relationship is becoming less and less likely. Let's take a look why the process is broken and see if we can figure a fix.

There are three major underlying issues causing this trouble:

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3 min read

Two ways to differentiate your MSP

By Denes Purnhauser on Apr 15, 2016

Two weeks ago we posted the interview with Verne Harnish, author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits and Scaling Up! The interview has inspired many of our clients and readers to think about particular aspects of their business. I’ve personally been experimenting within two of those aspects lately, based on his thoughts: Hyper Specialization and Service Productization. I just wanted to share an update on how we’ve developed what we learned.

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4 min read

Scaling up your MSP with Verne Harnish

By Denes Purnhauser on Mar 31, 2016

We are continuing the “MSP 2.0 bestseller” series in March, as well. No question, one of my all time personal favorite books is Mastering the Rockefeller Habits from Verne Harnish. It helped me to apply the paradigm of “work on your business instead of in your business”. For many Managed Services Provider leaders this book has been a foundation to building their businesses. He’s followed this with his new book Scaling Up - Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0. I had a chat with him about the required steps for Managed Services Providers to stay on top of their business and to start Scaling Up!

Verne is straight to the point, so put on your seat belts and get your notepad open, this is going to be a high-paced trip!

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1 min read

What is your pink cable?

By Denes Purnhauser on Mar 16, 2016

pinky-cable

This is a motif that’s had some traffic in the last few weeks in several situations, coming up in conversations about differentiation, going the extra mile, remarkable service, engaging clients, building a brand and the use of stories in this business.

One of our managed services provider clients told us a story about a fashion design client in Los Angeles with fashion conscious California team members. The office is artistically designed of course, with bricks, standing desks and an open cafeteria with bar tables. Lots of nice, creative radiant people having lattés while working makes this the place where techs are making up reasons to go every day.

He had some work out there and got inspired by the environment to get expressive, so he bought pink cables instead of the boring black ones.

He was just having fun. He didn’t predict the result...

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6 min read

4 Disciplines of MSP Service Development

By Denes Purnhauser on Mar 4, 2016

 

One of the most under-appreciated success factors of an MSP is its capacity to develop services. We’re the purveyors of Managed Services; there are hundreds in the repertoire of any given MSP. This keeps us busy - going from concept to a product that can be sold and delivered is a long road. While product based companies have a process for product development, we service companies too often overlook the value in this powerful business practice, where all our innovation, differentiation, profitability and growth can be formulated in advance.

The trend of fragmentation in services - into verticals, delivery tools, integrations - just multiplies the need for planned process.

The usual development process for managed services providers is to do a project - develop something that solves a problem for (and with) a specific client and standardize it later. This can lead to long term future revenue, but without a clear process mixing up service development and the real revenue generating activity of the company will not only kill our internal productivity, but likely our relationship with the client, if everything they see is always in beta testing.

Let’s identify some basics to ensure our process is better than the average and pull ahead of the competition.

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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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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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2 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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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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9 min read

12 mistakes most MSPs make with their Virtual CIO services

By Denes Purnhauser on Nov 19, 2015

The Virtual CIO phenomenon is not new, yet the promises of the role have not been realized across the industry. Some mature MSPs who believe they have a functioning Virtual CIO 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 MSPs.

#update - We released this blog a year ago. This is an updated version covering the latest developments. It seems that the MSP 2.0 community was able to solve most of the issues during the last year. These mistakes now can be prevented. It has been a long year, for sure... :-)

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3 min read

10 ways MSPs are leaving money on the table

By Denes Purnhauser on Oct 15, 2015


Keeping up the margins for IT managed services providers is getting harder and harder. The competition is catching up and while needs of the clients keeps growing, the price still seems to be dropping - and many IT companies are making a practice of leaving money on the table. Let's look at 10 things you can fix to prevent losing money every day.

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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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1 min read

How to overcome the competition when they over-promise their services

By Myles Olson on Jul 22, 2015

In this installment of our weekly Q&A, Denes and Myles discuss how to deal with your MSP competition when they over-promise what you know they can’t deliver...strategies and tools you can use to demonstrate real value to your prospects and customers and be accountable in ways your clients can readily measure.  

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4 min read

Get out of the MSP commoditization trap

By Denes Purnhauser on Jun 12, 2015


One of the more common problems we see IT managed services providers suffer is increasing difficulty with the commoditization of services and differentiation within the industry. There are three factors involved here that we need to understand and manage to solve these problems. 

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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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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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3 min read

Why inbound marketing works for MSPs

By Myles Olson on Oct 27, 2014

Let’s begin with what makes inbound marketing great in general. It draws your target audience to you, so you don’t have to go to them. You become a trusted authority on your subject matter in your market. The concept is simple but there are some key points I see people often overlook.

First and most important to remember when you’re building your inbound marketing campaign is that you need to be continually adding to the content your audience is looking for. Your MSP’s clients are out there right now trying to find ways to make their businesses more efficient for less money.

If you’re not providing them the information they’re looking for, your competition will. Even if they aren’t actively shopping around for your services they are seeing articles, blog posting, and comments on their social media feeds. There’s a good chance you’re reading this right now because you saw it in your LinkedIn news feed. This is how inbound works.. 

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4 min read

Our first book: MSP 2.0 - The Managed Service Revolution

By Denes Purnhauser on Oct 15, 2014

I have to admit we haven't done a lot of blogging lately and there hasn't been a lot of new content, sorry. We do have an excuse: we have completed a book about the MSP 2.0 business model.

We got your awesome feedback on our content- thanks - including the observations that our ideas were all in little pieces, lacking real connection. We needed a more comprehensive and linear format to digest this new concept, and thought that the best way to do so was to write a book. Have a look at what we have to offer in this format, and how you can become a contributing part of the story.

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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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