“By 2020, a corporate “No Cloud” policy will be as rare as a “No Internet” policy is today.” — Gartner, 2015
In the past, you may have heard the phrase, “Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle”. Well, the same rings true for MSPs selling Cloud. In a deeply competitive industry, selling the service isn’t no longer enough; you need to employ combination uniqueness — finding your company’s own story to tell prospective clients by identifying areas where you go the extra mile by offering exceptional service or expertise. A 2016 survey by MSP management solutions provider Kaseya found that high-growth managed service providers have seen over 20% annual growth in the last three years and expect to see further increases in revenue in the coming year.
Obviously, you want a piece of the ever-expanding Cloud market. But in an industry where new competitors jump into the fray each day and customers lack specialist knowledge to distinguish between providers, how will you tell a story that’s yours and yours alone? Now is not the time to sit back and contemplate, waiting for customers to discover the merits of your model. Be proactive — find your angle and reach out to your audience now to establish your place in a field that’s still unfolding.
5 Ways MSPs selling Cloud Can Differentiate Themselves
To assist you with your efforts, we’ve outlined a few ways MSPs selling Cloud can differentiate themselves from the rest of the industry.
1. Business on the Go — Sell the Benefits of a Mobile Workplace
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is not just a flash in the proverbial information technology pan, but a new paradigm that’s forcing businesses to rethink their infrastructure. A growing number of companies are embracing BYOD policies and reaping a number of benefits by doing so:
- Increased productivity from a workforce permitted to choose the technology they work on
- Lowered hardware costs — it’s not uncommon for employers to pay nothing in exchange for employees being able to choose their device
- Self-sufficient teams who are happier and able to work wherever and whenever they choose
- More advanced technology — new tablets, laptops, and smartphones brought by staff are often far more advanced than company machines
What does that mean to you, or more importantly, to your clients? While we’ve enumerated the BYOD model’s benefits, there is a dark side too — how will your customers set up infrastructure to be securely and efficiently accessed from any number of different devices in the office, at employees’ homes, or while they’re out on the road? Abracadabra! That’s where you step in.
Workspace as a Service solutions are the answer to the question that your clients might not have even asked yet. If your audience hasn’t yet implemented a BYOD policy, show them why they should. If they have, show them how you can make sure it’s secure and reliable, so they are maximizing the benefits of their happy, flexible, productive staff.
“The demand for working from anywhere, anytime, using [their] own mobile devices by employees is increasing rapidly. Thus, companies across the globe are [going to be] making huge investments in the WaaS solutions and services in the near future.” — MarketsandMarkets
You’re not just selling the Cloud — you’re providing a secure way for them to improve productivity, save hardware budget dollars and attract and maintain an innovative, tech-savvy team.
2. A Safety Net — Underline the Security Cloud Services Offer
Possibly one of the most common objections MSPs selling Cloud face when trying to sell hosting to existing customers is a concern about security. Even businesses that recognize the benefits the Cloud offers may hesitate to take the leap for fear of the ramifications of a security breach when their data is no longer “safely” stored in their on-premise server.
A 2015 survey conducted by West IP Communications found that 55 percent of respondents did not believe service providers offered sufficient security checks alongside their Cloud telecommunications offerings.
Blind faith is rare in the business world. Unless you’re starting a religion, you’ll have to educate your clients on the security benefits provided by a transition to the Cloud. As a dedicated MSP, your business lives and dies with the security of your clients’ data, while small- to medium-sized businesses (and sometimes even large enterprises) don’t have the financial or human resources to maintain the highest security standards needed to adequately protect sensitive or proprietary data today.
As high-profile cybersecurity breaches continue to appear in the headlines, businesses of all sizes are making IT security a top priority. And once again, MSPs selling Cloud are positioned to answer the questions before clients ask them. Put potential customers at ease with transparent answers about how you’ll protect their data. Let them know:
- Where their data is processed/stored
- What intermediate data is generated during processing
- How many copies of data are kept and where
- Security profiles of storage sites
- Who can access data
- How data is protected
You can also offer clients access to the very same metrics or alerts that your techs will see when monitoring their servers, allowing them the peace of mind that comes with being able to “keep an eye on things.” Positioning yourself as the impenetrable wall between would-be hackers and your audience’s precious data is a powerful way to demonstrate to potential clients that you’re selling more than just hosting.
3. Find Your Niche — Leveraging Vertical Cloud Markets
Another effective way to market Cloud services to potential clients is to more clearly target your audience. Rather than attempting to sell services broadly across a general market, many MSPs selling Cloud find great success in choosing a key vertical market to focus on, penetrate, and dominate.
Finance and health care are two of the most commonly identified vertical markets for Cloud service providers, largely due to their very stringent security and compliance requirements. But there’s absolutely no reason your team can’t focus their efforts on another niche market. Choose verticals based on:
- Industry — find an area where the Cloud hosting services you can provide would be a particular asset
- Technology — vertical markets don’t have to be based on your client; providing unique security, disaster recovery, or document management services can also help you focus on specific targets
- Geography — identify locations in your area that are more lucrative or less well-served by your competitors and focus your efforts there
There’s no magic formula for classifying your niche market, and all the information you need to make your choice is probably already right in your accounts. Examine your existing base of clientele and watch for patterns to emerge. Are you already serving a lot of clients in a specific industry or with a specific pain? There’s your starting point. Focus on their needs and build yourself into an expert at addressing their unique pain points.
“Identify your customers, who they are, what they value, what their appetites are, and then you can identify the types of services to deliver. Do that before spending a great deal of money, and you can figure out if a particular specialization will be a profitable business.” —Charles Weaver, MSPAlliance CEO
4. Do It All — Become a One-Stop Shop with Major Partner Alliances
When you’re ordering takeout, do you order pizza from one place, wings from a second, and fried rice from a third? What about office supplies? Are you getting your toner from one vendor and Post-It notes elsewhere? Not likely. Why? Because it’s inconvenient to go from place to place, even virtually, to acquire everything you need when you could just get it all from a single source.
Many of your potential customers likely feel the same way. Small business owners, especially, are busy people, and the convenience of having all their IT needs met under one roof can trump the potential savings of shopping around for services piecemeal.
Partnering with established hosting providers will allow you to build your services on a brand that your customers already recognize and trust. Forming relationships with major industry players ensures you don’t have to worry about the hosting service you provide and allows you to grow and offer a wider range of value-added services to save your clients’ time looking for answers. You become the answer to all their IT questions.
This particular approach to differentiation for MSPs selling Cloud also positions you as an expert — when your clients have IT needs, you’re the first call. Your ability to answer all questions and meet every need can also assist you in targeting an audience that doesn’t really know what they need. You can educate clients who recognize the importance of Cloud hosting to their businesses, but are paralyzed by a lack of understanding about the differences between:
- Public and Private Cloud
- Hybrid Cloud
- Virtual machines
The ability to not only educate and inform on all things Cloud, but then also follow up with delivery of a fitting solution for your newly knowledgeable customers will make you an invaluable resource to your clients, and win you their business and loyalty.
5. Show Them the Money — Illustrate How Cloud Can Offer Savings
Nobody really wants to be the lowest-priced competitor on the market. While you may earn some business from clients who shop on price alone, you will miss out on more discerning customers who recognize the inherent value in what you provide. Of course, offering savings doesn’t have to be about bargain basement prices on your part. Many businesses still view Cloud hosting as an expense, rather than an investment. Demonstrate the potential ROI of a Cloud transition and remove the cost barrier from their path.
“Cost was also among the top concerns for companies considering a change to their IT infrastructure. 54% of respondents expected to recover the entire price tag in savings, while 46% did not believe the return on investment would be enough to justify an infrastructure switch.” — Talkin’ Cloud
While some businesses still balk at the idea of paying for subscription services to replace hardware they’ve already purchased, most companies stand to reap significant financial benefits from the Cloud in one way or another:
- Increased productivity — faster to develop and deploy applications
- Reduced capital expenses as hardware needs replacing — on-premise servers’ maintenance and replacement costs are eliminated
- Reduced networking and storage costs
- Enhanced agility and scalability to address fluctuating workloads
- Improved data analytics
- Competitive advantage — flexibility and responsiveness provides an edge over slower-moving rivals
The savings that can be realized by transitioning to the Cloud can make hiring a managed service provider money well spent. All your team has to do is demonstrate how much your clients stand to gain by taking advantage of the services you’re offering.
If you’re looking for an effective way to differentiate your team from the many MSPs selling Cloud today, our experts are always here to help. At Total Product Marketing, we specialize in marketing for Cloud and managed service providers. Get in touch with us today.