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    Feature Deep Dive – Account Planner Products

    Posted by Ricky Cecchini on Oct 12, 2021 11:17:31 AM

    I help a lot of managed service providers (MSPs) build and develop their quarterly business review (QBR) and sales strategies within CloudRadial.

    But before I dive into recommendations or optimizations of any kind, I always lead with a single question:

    “So, what do you sell?”

    It seems easy enough to answer. However, it manages to stump nearly every managed service provider that I’ve asked. Not because it’s particularly hard to answer, per se – but because it’s hard to give a clear and succinct answer to a layperson.

    Without something to sell, it becomes difficult to lay out a meaningful roadmap for clients.

    In order to jump this hurdle, MSPs are turning to the “productization” of their services. Let’s take a look at why it’s becoming necessary and how to achieve it.

    Scoping out the need for productization

    During the QBR process, the MSP is looking to achieve a few things that can be generalized as:

    1. Show the client the current state of IT affairs
    2. Walk through previous changes and improvements since the last QBR
    3. Plan what needs to be done for the future

    For prospective clients in a sales meeting, the objective is similar – it’s this:

    1. Show the client the opportunities/threats they face
    2. Match the MSP service(s) to their needs

    In both scenarios, it’s important to put the plan of action in front of people that makes sense.

    And, to make that plan of action work, you need to be able to match the initiatives (aka, your services) to the appropriate need.

    While it’s nice and easy to bundle all your services under one master offering – commonly known as just “managed services” – it makes it really hard for a client to understand what they get from you and how this service covers their needs.

    There’s an added challenge, too.

    Nearly every MSP refers to their bundled offerings as their “managed service” offering. So, when a customer is comparing options, it’s easy to see how it can get confusing quickly.

    New Prospect productization

    Here’s a high-level example of what the client might get from the prospective MSP partners from the perspective.

     

      MSP #1 MSP #2
    Helpdesk Support Yes Yes
    Backup Services Yes No
    Cybersecurity Yes No
    Hosted Cloud Yes No
    Office 365 Management Yes Yes

     

    The chart above shows a clear-cut difference in managed services rendered for a new potential client. However, the prospect seldom retains the information covering the nuances between the two.

    When it’s time to make a decision, what they see is more like this:

     

      MSP #1 MSP #2
    Managed Services $100 per Seat $25 per Seat

     

    Without productizing your offerings, you’re leaving yourself open to non-comparable (apples-to-oranges) pricing that you can’t control.

    While it’s not necessarily critical to ensure that you sell your services in distinct siloes, it’s important to productize your solutions so they can’t be compared against another MSP.

    Existing Client Productization

    When sitting down with a client for a QBR, you should be constantly looking to take them forward with their business. The concept of empowering them through IT only really works if you’re growing their technology strategy with their own business.

    Having productized offerings that you can bring up during various stages in the client lifecycle is both easier to manage AND easier to use in discussion with the client.

    In other words, if you just sell a managed service, your only option is to charge more for that service as the company’s needs evolve.

    While it may make sense to discuss this with the client, the result in the long run is negative – the client will look back and see that their only agreement with you (the managed service) has crept up in price over the years.

    That’s a quick way to get a client that won’t stay a client for long.

    Solving the productization puzzle

    The resolution to both situations mentioned above is to productize the offerings.

    And all that means is to take your service(s) and turn them into a neatly packaged and marketed product. You want to ensure that it’s both unique to your brand and easily understood.

    Here are a few examples of what that might look like from the perspective of “ACME MSP Corp.”

     

    Instead of... Call it
    Managed Services ACME Complete IT
    Managed Security ACME Security Shield
    Backup and Disaster Recovery ACME Lightning Recovery
    Hosted Cloud ACME Cloud

     

    Cheesiness is, of course, entirely optional. But the advantage of creating actual products that you sell helps you drastically differentiate your offerings from others. In the example earlier, the line item would look something like this:

     

      ACME MSP Corp ABC MSP
    Managed Services N/A $25 per Seat
    ACME Complete IT $100 per Seat N/A

     

    With a productized strategy, you’ve gone and made yourself incomparable to others. That allows you to charge more, differentiate your company, and stick out from the rest of the competition.

    Combining Productization with Your Portal

    Once you have a few examples of productized offerings, you can make the correlation super simple for clients. Within CloudRadial’s planner functionality, productized offerings can make a powerful statement that helps keep the client attentive and on track.

    Take a look at the image below:

     

    account-planner-1

     

    In a few seconds, you can tell what’s going on. The color-coded cards correlate types of initiatives (security, productivity, backup, etc.) and the productized offerings help speak to what the MSP will do to resolve issues.

    Having a discussion about introducing an advanced security package now becomes easy – and the client doesn’t need a half-hour of a preamble to get to it. Furthermore, taking the extra step to explain the nuances of your solution can be great for account managers to use as a quick reference.

    Take a look at what happens when we select ACME Security Shield Protection +:

     

     

    account-planner-2

     

    The productized strategy must always be balanced out with a more thorough explanation that covers both bases – one for ease of marketing and explanation and one for substance and clear-cut coverage.

    This hybrid strategy is the best of both worlds. With it, you can confidently answer the question of “what do you sell?” and apply it to wherever you need it most.

    Give it a shot for yourself within CloudRadial! You can always set up a demo with an expert to get a feel for what this process looks like in action.

    Topics: account management, msps, vCIO