4 min read

Do you have an Annual QBR Playbook?

By Myles Olson on Oct 2, 2020

Although client meetings are getting shorter due to the remote environment, account managers need to pack more into each session. Flooding the client with too much information in a short amount of time leads to an overwhelmed audience, a lack of decisions and countless unorganized follow up meetings. The key is to be able to define all the talking points with the client and spread them out logically over the year. This sets a predictable rhythm for the account manager and the client so they can discuss all salient points and make decisions one step at a time. In this blog we review how to best distribute the topics over the year and the critical points of developing your Annual QBR Playbook.

Your QBR Annual Playbook is your game plan to specify the different topics, decisions and engagement over the year on the different QBRs. This playbook is developed internally and shared with the client to engender alignment.

Different playbooks should be developed for different client segments. If you have only one meeting with a client for a year (as they are small and have no budget for more meetings) you cannot really have a playbook with them. However if they actually have 2 or more meetings a year then a playbook can come in quite handy. We are going to review a 4 meeting QBR formula as this can be applied to medium and larger clients as well.

Topics: vCIO QBR Quarterly Business Review
3 min read

Lessons Learned: How to thrive during uncertain times

By Adam Walter on Aug 25, 2020

Throughout the pandemic and these times of uncertainty, we’ve seen various industries defaulting to panic mode. They don’t know what to do or what’s coming next, so they hold their breath, make decisions in the moment and hope for the best. Moving from one thing to the next without strategy has left these employees increasingly tired and unmotivated. 

In the technology world, we have a phrase for this practice that we hear multiple times a day: Firefighting. Firefighting means you’re spending your day putting out one fire after, always moving to the next issue with no time to plan ahead or create solid solutions for the future.

Being stuck in this firefighting mode comes with a big problem: burnout.  Always having something to do is fun at first; it feels like you’re coming in as a hero and fixing the problem. Then reality hits. You aren’t getting anything done, you’re just bouncing around from one thing to the next and creating recurring problems.  Fortunately, there’s a way to stop this, and that’s where Lessons Learned comes in.

Topics: vCIO Managed Services Providers Strategic Leadership Adam Walter
6 min read

vCIO: The Ultimate Guide

By Denes Purnhauser on Jul 10, 2020

The vCIO or Virtual CIO (virtual chief information officer) term was popularized in the managed services industry to initially differentiate one MSP from another by adding higher-level management practices to their services.

The term has been overused and without a lack of an accepted definition, certification or agreement across the industry the term has lost its original meaning. As any MSP could claim to provide vCIO services it is no longer the main differentiator. Meanwhile, the service provided by vCIOs has become more relevant than ever.

That is why most MSPs have their own terminology for the vCIO role such as digital advisor, digital consultant, business technology advisor, and so on. 

Topics: vCIO Managed Services Providers Virtual Chief Information Officer MSP Virtual CIO CIO
4 min read

Podcast That Bridges the Gap Between Business and Technology

By Denes Purnhauser on Jun 10, 2020

I have long been a huge podcast fan. I listen when I drive, hike or while working out, but I had trouble finding something great to share with our MSP community. I told this to Adam Walter about a year ago and he took up the challenge. Now after hearing the 7th episode of his Humanize IT podcast, I decided to put out this blog for our audience to make sure the word got out. I love this new voice and narrative about how to differentiate, how to serve and how to run an MSP of the future. He has been interviewing the most forward thinking MSP leaders about how to make IT more human, how to drive great conversations and how to deliver business value to clients.

Check out the latest episodes here. Thanks to Adam for doing this for the community!

Topics: vCIO Virtual Chief Information Officer Adam Walter Skip Ziegler
3 min read

Your web conference setup sucks (and how to fix it)

By Adam Walter on May 5, 2020

In today’s distributed workforce everyone is settling into a routine. Many, however,  haven't really put objective thought into how their presence is viewed by their clients. We are still playing by old rules: dress nice, speak clearly, have a predefined agenda. This is no longer the case, and it takes a back seat to web presence. So, for those of you who don’t want to read this whole thing, here are the 3 things you need to know.

  1. Your web setup is too casual and unprofessional.
  2. Your current setup will cost you customers in the long run.
  3. For less than the cost of a new outfit you can distinguish yourself.
Topics: vCIO IT Consultative Sales IT Client Engagement Adam Walter
15 min read

How to craft a perfect QBR Process

By Denes Purnhauser on Apr 23, 2020

 

Quarterly Business Reviews are tricky. Some clients are not engaged with your QBRs and require a different approach, some clients don't justify the time spent on a QBR every quarter, and some clients are more mature and need different reports, even some demanding complete technology roadmaps and updates...do you need a custom QBR template for each client?! If there's no one fit-for-all QBR process or template it seems that scaling Account Management and vCIO is going to be near impossible, since every client is different.

In this article we show you a method to assess the complexity of your QBR needs and the time you can afford to run those meetings. Then we introduce three different types of QBRs with all the major agenda points, and we'll show you how those QBRs look in an example.

Topics: vCIO Managed Services Providers MSP IT Account Management IT Client Engagement QBR Quarterly Business Review
4 min read

How to help executives make strategic decisions in the bathroom

By Denes Purnhauser on Apr 15, 2020

The two most prevalent trends in client engagement are the increased frequency and remote delivery of meetings. We see, however, another trend that may surprise you, and its impact is as significant in your client meetings as in your sales meetings.

The power of the traditional printed collaterals, pdf reports, and personal influence is fading from future decision-making processes. This trend shows that your client executives and prospects might be making strategic decisions sitting on the toilet….

I do not want to bury the lead. Our tool is used to prepare, deliver and follow up important client meetings. We measure engagement with shared reports and we’ve just found out that the majority of follow-up items from client meetings such as QBR Reports, Strategy Reports, and Sales Proposals are opened on mobile devices. 

This shows not just a surprising shift in engagement, attention span, information processing and decision making in general, but should send a wake-up call for every client-facing employee: the way to win deals, approve projects and upgrade contracts is not just doing the same thing in zoom.

Every account manager, vCIO and sales executive should rethink how their processes can help them succeed not just in the next 30-60 days but the years to come.

Here are 6 quick tips to think about in this new era of decision making:

Topics: vCIO IT Account Management IT Client Engagement QBR Managed Services Platform
3 min read

How We Predict the IT Industry Will Adapt to a New Crisis

By Adam Walter on Mar 25, 2020

One of the best things about IT is that we thrive on change.  Even when the world is on fire, we are at our best — we have come through for society several times over within the last 20 years alone. Our resilience and adaptability are what make our industry so valuable.  

Topics: vCIO IT Client Engagement Technical Account Manager Adam Walter
6 min read

Why the better MSPs work the less perceived value they have

By Denes Purnhauser on Mar 10, 2020

For a while after our session with Sea-Level something was bugging me. We pondered a conundrum in this seminar: why can’t MSPs not become the victim of their own success? Why does a smooth service have to lead to disengaged clients? How can the MSP remain the hero not justhen the client has problems in their day-to-day operation but even when those problems are gone and the technology just works, and they stop noticing the value of the services? 

After many 1-1 discussions we came up with an answer. The issue comes into clear view from a distant overhead, as does the solution. Now having been able to create a model that explains the problems, the solution is far less difficult to manage.

We are going to break down the problem into 3 stages each with a brief explanation.

Topics: vCIO IT Account Management IT Client Engagement Technical Account Manager
2 min read

Why your meetings suck

By Adam Walter on Mar 3, 2020

Imagine sitting in an operational meeting with your accountant. They are telling you about reconciliation and collecting receipts. They then tell you how many transactions took place and where they need clarification on spend.  Bored yet? I am typing this and I am bored

This is how your clients feel when attending your quarterly or monthly operational meetings on connectwise tickets. The SLAs and project status are important to YOU and they are kind of important to the business but the method in which you are portraying information is wrong.  How do I know this? I have been an IT professional for over 20 years. Today many clients will ask me to sit in on meetings with their MSPs to help them understand what is going on. It truly is horrible, clients have just accepted that this is the way things are.

Lets go a bit darker now. The truly sad part is that even the account manager and techs are bored in these meetings. They are viewed as a necessary evil because someone told them that a MSP best practice is to meet with the client on a regular basis and give status updates. So here you are, in another boring meeting, wishing that it were time to leave. 

“Everyone is miserable but you keep moving forward 
because it is what you are supposed to do.” 

Now lets flip the tables for a second, that is right, just grab the top and flip the whole thing over. Screw what you are supposed to do, let's talk about what you want to do. 

Topics: vCIO Adam Walter
5 min read

How to get out of your “Client Engagement Debt”

By Denes Purnhauser on Jan 17, 2020

As a Technology Provider, you’ve undoubtedly encountered the symptoms of your clients' "Technology Debt." This is the manifestation of the inherent costs of perpetual support for less-than-optimal technology. This is a drain on both you and the client. Client Engagement Debt is a similar concept that encompasses the implied cost of not having enough quality Account Management, Technical Account Management, vCIO or IT Consulting activities with your clients. This costs you money, erodes trust, loses opportunities and even lowers the value your clients see in your services. Let’s take a look at how much debt you have and how to get rid of it this year.

Topics: vCIO IT Client Engagement QBR Technical Account Manager Quarterly Business Review
8 min read

How to Become a Trusted Advisor With Strategic Client Meetings

By Denes Purnhauser on Dec 12, 2019

Most MSPs are facing the commoditization trap. Competition is getting fierce, price pressure is constant, it’s hard to get in front of prospects and selling additional services like cybersecurity or IT consultation is tough.

There is one telltale sign each MSP should look for of declining client engagement which leads to the downward spiral of less connection, less stickiness (retention) and eventually less profitability.

In this blogpost we are going to learn about this telltale sign, how you can identify whether your MSP is affected and what to do to overcome the problem.

Topics: vCIO IT Client Engagement
Sign up for the Client Engagement Excellence Manifesto PDF coming end of January

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