One of the most challenging aspects of running an MSP is finding new customers. While this is not unique for MSPs, I think the amount of MSP competition is higher than most other businesses, primarily because the differentiation between service providers is not that great. How do you let prospects truly understand that your services will be better than other MSPs in your geography?

First everyone seems to acknowledge that sales is a very different skill from running an MSP. One contributor to an MSP chat site stated “Sales is a special skill. If I had it, I would have my own MSP.” Selling means trying to find companies switching to an MSP for the first time or trying to pry a customer away from another a competitor – both real challenges.

I looked at MSP sales advice on the web and it basically fell into 3 buckets:

  • Referrals

Obviously the best source for new customers as referrals are free, come from the heart (and pocketbook) of existing clients, and are based on real knowledge of your products. One web site advises “Offer incentives to your current clients such as discounts, movie tickets, or other gifts to thank them for any referrals that they might send your way.” Of course you have to have clients to get referrals so this is tough for new businesses.

There is a Reddit stream where contributors discuss how best to find prospects. One piece of advice on a getting referrals includes offering heavily discounted services to not-for-profits. The hope is to get referrals and then market that you’re a good member of the community. However there is a warning from those who have done this in the past – “There can be a lot of complexity with non-profits, from funding sources to resource allocation. Get used to long timelines for payment and filing invoices.” Another stated “I like the idea of starting with a non-profit, as long as they don’t only refer me to other businesses saying “this guy’s services are cheap”.” He continued, advising to make sure your invoice includes the real price of your services with the discount listed. This way they are reminded they are getting a deal with every bill.

  • Networking

This is a labor and time intensive approach. You have to attend meetings to let people get to know you and this will take you away from running your business. You have to invest time for this channel to pay off. Some good advice offered is “if the group isn’t generating business after a period of time then change groups.”

Also repeatedly stated is the need for you to have a solid elevator pitch. You should be able to describe and differentiate your offering in 1 sentence, 30-seconds, 1 minute, and 2 minutes. Several commentators advised that you focus on how you make your customers lives better and less on you and your background.

  • Advertising:

This is a high risk – high reward strategy. Advertising through traditional media is expensive and hard to target just at MSP prospects. Advertising can be a synch of time as well. Make sure you have a positive Return on Investment (ROI) before you go too deeply into this channel.

Cold call walk-ins seem to be rarely successful, according to the posters. You rarely pick a good time for the prospect and almost never get access to the decision maker. They strongly advise developing a good “leave behind” that they can keep and reference when they decide to make a change.

Another option not widely discussed – Vendor Sourced

Your technology vendors should be able to provide customers as well as technology that allows you to differentiate yourself.  An MSP should be able to use their existing customer base, solve the problem of security and protection by delivering a superior service, and then be rewarded with a new customer. This enables you to overcome the costly challenge of obtaining new customers, while simultaneously allowing you to deliver more effective, lucrative services to your clients. 

Unitrends MSP is offering such an approach – it delivers real customers while allowing you to offer superior data backup and recovery services to you clients. The Unitrends Done Deal is designed for every five Unitrends backup and recovery appliances you deploy to your existing clients, you will be introduced as the preferred reseller to a Unitrends customer in your area.

Done Deal is not a program. It is a way of business for Unitrends. .  It’s Unitrends’ world-class, demand-generation model.  The reason other vendors have no similar offering is because this is difficult to do. Unitrends is betting their business on the success of their MSP partners.

Sound interesting? Check out msp.unitrends.com. You can read more about Done Deal here. We think you will like what you see and add your clients to the 30,000+ organizations already being protected by Unitrends products.