How to get paid when your services are hidden in the cloud

It used to be easier to make a profit.

Back before everything was on the cloud.

In the old days, not so long ago, it was necessary for an MSP to keep his hands on an account from day one.  There would be at least one server to configure and maintain.  Email, firewalls, patches…  All needed to be installed and monitored through site visits and seemingly endless tweaks.  Everything took time – sometimes weeks to install and upgrade.  And everything had a price tag.

But the cloud has changed all of that.

What used to have the potential to be big dollars is now nickels and dimes.

Now, when it comes to installation, there’s one week of tough and it’s over.  At least your customer thinks it’s over.  The reality is different, there’s actually still plenty for an MSP to do – much of it is just done remotely now, and at a much lower cost.

The MSP business is currently undergoing what the Harvard Business Review calls intermediating change.  This means that what used to be the Managed Service Provider’s bread and butter is changing.  In thinking about this, it might be helpful to consider how the process of buying a car has changed over the last fifteen years, and what that change has meant to both the buyer and the dealer.

The days of walking onto a showroom floor and negotiating as well as you can based on what feels right are gone.  Now the buyer controls the information channel – he knows the possible options and their general cost.  The seller is no longer in a position to set a price and bring the buyer to the deal based on his terms.

As more information has become available the relationships have changed.  The available technology has created an empowered buyer, and that has forced the seller to find new ways to remain profitable.  In short, it has forced the dealer away from the act of simply selling – and into the role of advisor and service provider.

The cloud has forced the Managed Service Provider into a similar circumstance.  Because the MSP no longer has control of the infrastructure, he must find other ways to add value to the customer’s experience.

 

So how do you keep yourself relevant?

It’s not easy, but it is certainly possible.  With shrinking margins, it is more important now than ever to make yourself an essential partner to your customers.  This means that you must now tie your role as advisor to the customer’s satisfaction.  They will still need maintenance help and account management, but the next generation of Managed Service Provider is going to need to change his game significantly.

That means working even more efficiently.  You’ll be providing the same services as before, but now, because they’re so widely available, the tasks that your team routinely completes won’t cost as much and your technicians won’t take as much time to complete their calls as they used to.  It will no longer be good enough for your team to install hardware – your new advisory role calls for helping people use stuff.

And continually proving your worth by showing clients how you make their business day better.

These new opportunities to help your existing customers are where MSPs can secure additional value.  And Atera’s all-in-one platform can be really helpful in securing new customers as well.

How?

It’s all about differentiation.  And standing out from the crowd.

Recruiting new customers is hard – users tend not to replace their existing MSP unless they’re REALLY upset.  That means that Providers usually only capture brand new businesses or those who are completely unhappy with their current level of service. So anything that you can do to distance yourself from the crowd, that proves you’re not only doing things differently, you’re doing things better, is sure to please your current base – and get prospective clients talking.

And everyone knows that word of mouth is the most powerful marketing resource in the Managed Service Provider’s world.

With Atera’s help, the relationship that you develop with your customers can be special.  By using Atera’s customer satisfaction surveys, you can be constantly in tune with your customer’s needs.  They can provide you with instant feedback that, based on their perceptions, will help you maximize your customer focus.

On the other side of the coin, Atera’s detailed time tracking, combined with easy and accurate invoicing, shows clients how hard your team is working on their behalf, even if they don’t regularly see you on site anymore.  As an MSP, when you use Atera as your invoicing solution, your clients will know exactly the kind of service they are receiving, and that helps them recognize the value of their relationship with you.

Not everyone is providing that level of added value to their customers.

Yet.

That level of customization won’t go unnoticed.

And the news of your good work is sure to spread.