B2B enterprises have many of the same goals that B2C companies do – including, how do we get more sales? For MSPs, there is always going to be a healthy amount of turnover, which means marketing yourself to new clients is a continuous part of the job. This diagram, which shows the B2B elements of value was created by Bain & Company and looks at the benefits that businesses are providing their customers. The lower down the category is on the pyramid, the more objective it is, while the higher up the category, the more personal and subjective it will be.
Businesses can use this pyramid to think about the types of value they are providing to the client, and to discuss this value in customer meetings, when marketing and branding, and when recognizing how potential clients are making their decisions.
Let’s break down the main five categories, and what they mean.
These are what many people would call the ‘bare necessities’ of doing business with a company. Does your company meet basic ethical standards and pay its workers well, or have a price point that is within normal in the industry? Are you on board with regulatory compliance, especially if you are working in a sensitive field, such as Health, IT or Security? Do you meet the specifications that the business is looking to fill? Simply put – are you a viable product or service for their business needs?
Bain splits functional value into both economic, and performance. Most businesses look for solutions that will make money in one of two ways. Either the business is going to save them money, or it will improve revenues coming in. If the solution isn’t saving them money, it should take a bite out of performance issues. This could be adding innovation to the client’s business model, supporting the company in scaling the product, or improving the quality of the product itself.
Identifying your functional value will help you to describe the benefits you’re going to provide to the customer. For an MSP, this could be economic, such as “I’m going to streamline your systems and save you X per month on this unnecessary software” or it could be performance-based, such as “I’m going to help you transition to the cloud, allowing you to add speed, scale and innovation.”
Ease of Business
Finding a company that is easy to work with could be a ‘nice to have’, but for many clients it is essential. This also depends on the kind of business you have. For MSPs, who will likely have a close personal relationship with their clients and a lot of communication, the simple feeling of getting along well together is much more important than a business that buys a one-off hardware installation from you.
The different kinds of ease of doing business also fall into different categories. Here are some examples that are particularly important in the MSP world.
- Productivity: Does your business make the client’s life easier, reduce the hassle they feel at work, save them time, or increase transparency? If so, this is important to highlight when you’re meeting with a potential customer, as it’s an important part of business value for organizations.
- Relationship: Do you feel a close affinity with the business in question, and feel that your expertise is going to be a good cultural fit? Stability and responsiveness are important when you’re creating a long-term relationship with a company, and businesses want to know that you’re ready to go the extra mile to support them. Of course, showing that you have proven expertise and industry knowledge goes a long way, too.
As value on this pyramid becomes increasingly subjective, these elements are arguably less important when you’re pitching to a new client. However, looking out for these can give you a competitive edge, because they might be personally very important to a specific company that you would like to work with, or particularly applicable. Bain splits this category into Career and Personal.
Career looks at the networking opportunities for a company in working with you. Does your company expand their own network of contacts, improve their reputation, or increase marketability? On the personal side, businesses might be swayed by broad promises of growth and development, of an enjoyable time working with you, and by the design and branding of your company in and of itself. These factors are likely to be more important when you’re working with smaller companies, or even one-man-bands where personal relationship becomes even more relevant.
This top section can be summed up as the purpose of your company. What is your vision, your hope for your future, and how do you see your social responsibility in the working world? While this is the least likely to succeed when speaking to other organizations in terms of convincing them to do business with you, its often how companies launch their elevator pitch. “I want to level the playing field for the smaller players in the market” or “Our business supports health organizations who are less tech-savvy, becoming that arm of the company so they can focus on the product.” These are laudable aims but are not how to convince new customers of your worth as an MSP.
Instead, it’s worth starting with table stakes and functional value, explaining what you do and why it’s going to improve performance or save on their bottom line. Then move on to the less objective parts of your USP, such as expertise, potential relationship fit, and culture. If you see that it’s relevant, move on to individual or inspirational value, where you can close the deal by creating that personal connection.
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