MSP Strategy: Differentiation

BY IT GLUE | December 13, 2016

As the MSP business gets more competitive, it is important to start thinking about how you can differentiate your business and separate yourself from the pack. It’s not enough just to say “great service” or “family-run business”, because anybody can do that. You need to be the best at something. Here are some ideas.

Great service

Wait, what? Well, okay, anybody can say they deliver great service, but if you can prove that you’re the best, that actually means something. What if you could show clients that you hit your SLAs 99% of the time? And you could tell them about every single time you missed, why that happened and what you did about it. Now imagine how confident they’d be doing business with you.

The pathway to crushing tickets like that is to stop wasting time looking for information. Once you’ve documented everything about your clients and their businesses, you can get started solving their problems immediately.

Consistent documentation makes it a lot easier to hit SLAs, because you’re removing a lot of the variability from your process. You know both how long it takes to find information and how long it takes to perform most routine service tasks, and can set your SLAs accordingly. When your team is dialed in that well, you actually are providing great service rather than just talking about it.  When you’re the absolute best, that is a legitimate point of differentiation.

Unique service offerings

There are certain things that almost any MSP will offer, and you’ll need that stuff, too. However, if you can find some pain points that the market has but aren’t part of the standard MSP service offering, then you can stand out.

Security is a big one. All SMBs are worried about security, but few MSPs truly know how to monetize it. And that’s strange, because you can actually quantify the cost of a ransomware situation or a DDoS attack. If you can quantify the costs, then you can make a business case for the solution.

Documentation is another way to differentiate. Having a great documentation platform obviously makes it easier for you to hit your SLAs, and there’s great value in showing prospects that you are the most organized, professional MSP in your area.

Starting in 2018, MSP partners of IT Glue™ will be able to sell a version of IT Glue to their clients called MyGlue. Now you’re not just getting the benefits of documentation, but you’re selling it as a value-added service to your clients, boosting your revenue per seat. And it’s only for IT Glue partners, so that limits the competition.

Exploit a niche

All the studies that we’ve seen show that the demand for managed services is growing. Larger MSPs are starting to compete on the benefits of scale, which means smaller ones need to find some sort of niche. There’s money to be made being the only security specialist in your area. Or focus on an industry.

You might already be doing this, accidentally. But a company that outperforms everybody in a niche is better equipped for long-term success than a small company that neither has the benefit of scale nor is equipped to beat anybody at anything.

When assessing your differentiation, be blunt. Be honest. Don’t lie to yourself. The market will be honest with you either way. Pretend you’re a prospect, trying to figure out which MSP to go with. If you can’t make an honest case for your business, it’s time to find a point of differentiation and work towards being the best at it.

And by honest case, that means to back up any assumptions with cold, hard facts. Nobody wants to admit that they are running an “okay” company. But if that’s where you’re at, you are better off accepting it and taking steps to improve your business.

The more competitive the MSP business gets, the more mature the market becomes, the less room there will be for players that don’t have some point of differentiation. What’s yours?

IT Glue is a documentation platform that helps you to streamline your processes, record and organize information, and reduce the amount of time your techs waste looking for information. IT Glue’s partners report efficiency gains almost immediately after launching the platform. Watch the demo to find out more.

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