There is no avoiding the fact that some SMB prospects, no matter the vertical market, are going to be more reticent when it comes to hiring MSPs. However, there are a few accouterments and attributes SMBs prioritize—and if you provide them, it may be easier to entice them to sign on the dotted line.
Let’s take a closer look at this “hit list:”
- In-house monitoring and help desk services. It may be tempting to try to cut costs by hiring a third-party firm to handle the monitoring of clients’ systems (or at least, some of the monitoring), and/or to do the same with the help desk. But this is not a good idea if you’re trying to court SMB clients, especially the smallest ones (e.g., retailers with just one or two stores, or professional service firms with one office). For many super-small SMBs, and even some that don’t fall into that category, it’s enough of a change to entrust data and systems to an outside entity, without worrying about another one in the mix. Additionally, while you can assure these clients that you can and will come to know their solutions and systems intimately (particularly if you’ve implemented them), you cannot realistically provide the same assurance about a third party—and if you try, prospects aren’t likely to blindly accept that promise.
- Guaranteed response times. SMBs want to know that their problems and requests will be handled within a set period of time, so their mission-critical operations can be resumed as soon as possible. Without this assurance and with ad hoc agreements alone, they may fear that their situation will be given “short shrift” in favor of a larger client.
- All-inclusive monthly service charges. Your monthly service charge should be inclusive of everything SMBs need—and if this isn’t possible, clarify up front what the charge does not cover. For example, on-site support is considered highly desirable by clients of all sizes. However, some MSPs do not incorporate charges for on-site support in their monthly service fee and bill these charges as a separate item. This may “fly” for larger clients, but SMB clients probably don’t have the budget to cover add-ons on top of the monthly charges they already incur.
- Bundled, holistic solutions. SMBs favor one-stop shopping for all of their IT needs—not one-dimensional IT solutions. MSPs that provide complete product and service bundles—geared to individual vertical markets, of course, and at varying price levels—will experience far less trouble attracting SMB customers of any type. One important caveat to remember here: security and disaster recovery solutions and services must be readily available. While security was once primarily a worry of larger organizations, savvy SMBs know that hackers are now going after the lower-hanging fruit (smaller, Tier Three and Tier Four retailers are just one of many examples) and are seeking assistance from MSPs in protecting themselves from suffering the consequences of perpetrators’ increasingly sophisticated cyber-crime schemes.
- Regular reports that cover clients’ use of services. Clients in some industries—for example, financial services—are subject to regulatory compliance audits and, as such, require periodic reports that detail their adherence to certain regulations. However, even SMB clients outside the regulatory realm will want reports that detail their “consumption” of MSP services and exactly what they are paying for. It all goes back to their price sensitivity.
- Streamlined processes. SMBs have neither the time nor the inclination to get involved in protracted planning meetings involving the services and solutions for which they contract with MSPs. Their size eliminates the need for you to cut through multiple layers of red tape to secure an agreement with them—so don’t put them through multiple layers of red tape, as may be the case with a larger entity—in working with you.
Every SMB is different. However, there are some commonalities in terms of what these clients want from MSPs. MSPs that keep this in mind stand to remain ahead in the SMB “courting” game.