If you’ve been reselling cloud services for a while, you may have noticed a subtle difference in the market. It’s getting a lot more crowded out there. As the demand for cloud solutions continues to rise, more and more Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are seeing the need to differentiate themselves. You might be offering your own brand of remote monitoring, management or technical support. But so is the guy down the street. If your business is going to prosper in this fast-moving market, you have to figure out a way to stand out from the crowd. You have to build a portfolio that will give your clients a real bang for their buck. Sounds great, you say, but where do I start? We’ve taken a close look at what MSPs are offering these days and put together a five-point guide that should help you improve your offering and position yourself as a leader among resellers. Read on.

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5 tips to improve your business portfolio

1- Track your clients’ requests:

Too many MSPs make the same mistake. They offer the same services year after year and try to squeeze every penny from the deal. What they don’t realize is SMBs are adopting cloud technology at a faster rate every year. If you don’t offer the cutting-edge services your clients need to stay competitive, they’ll simply go somewhere else. By taking the time to survey your customers’ needs, you may find out there is potential for other services that you haven’t even considered. Maybe your clients are concerned about Disaster Recovery. Do you offer a plan? MSPs can play a big role in helping customers prepare for potential disasters, such as hurricanes, and avoid potential downtime. So, talk to your customers. Find out what their concerns are and which products they want! You can even give them a survey to fill out. If they mention a service that’s missing from your portfolio, like Office 365, figure out how you can add it. On the other hand, if they have a good comment about a service you already offer, see this as an opportunity to enhance it with other products and cross-sell the client’s account.

 

2- Build an overview of what you’re already offering

Your clients purchase products and services from you because they trust you to deliver a better deal than your competitors. But how much value are they getting from your current portfolio? Are your services still unique? And will they still be unique five years from now? This is a great time to take stock of your offering. List absolutely everything you sell, even the minor services, like resetting passwords on a client’s computer. Then take a look at what your cloud provider is offering you as a reseller. There might be services in their portfolio that you haven’t really looked at. Is your provider a member of Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program (CSP)? If so, this is a great opportunity for you to resell Office 365 on your own terms. You own the customer relationship, which means you control the pricing, billing, provisioning and management. You can bundle other services like support and migration with Office 365 and provide a brand new service for your customers. If you have Office 365 clients in Microsoft’s Advisor or Open programs and they’re up for renewal, you can even transfer those seats to a provider who is a member of the CSP program. You’ll start benefitting from the CSP program right away.

 

3-Set objectives

Now that you’ve made a detailed list of all the services in your portfolio and what your clients need, it’s time to think about the future. Are you satisfied with your current offering, number of leads and profits? While there’s money to be made in managed services built around popular software like Exchange and SharePoint, you have to make sure you have the skills to back it up. General knowledge won’t fly with your customers. You have to be an expert. Are you prepared to do your homework so you can add new services? Plan around that goal.
Want a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-specific) objective for your business? How about increasing your customer base in the coming year by 20%? Or converting 10% more leads each quarter? Define a target to keep in mind for the next 12 months. Decide what it would take to reach that goal. By defining a SMART goal for your business, you’ll be able to measure your performance and keep focusing on what’s important.

 

4-Pick a provider that offers you good and flexible support when you need it

Finding the best partner program isn’t just about money and profit margins. You have to find a cloud vendor that you can trust; someone who will back you up and help you grow your business. Take a close look at your current partner program if you have one and then compare it with different partner programs. Look for something flexible that’s a good fit with your business strategy. When it’s time to choose a partner, go with one that will offer good training programs and has a toolbox full of reseller resources. Product and sales training should be offered on a regular basis and should include online training and even educational webinars. The best vendors will also provide you with an account representative who will act as your personal sales consultant and provide hands-on assistance for everything from business planning to product demonstrations. Finally, make sure the vendor has a good mix of products that suit your customers’ needs. The more products you can offer, the more money you can make.

 

5-Build packages that make sense for your clients

No matter what kind of changes you decide to make to your portfolio, you have to remember one basic thing: the key to success is being able to sell value-added services that meet your customers’ needs. You don’t want to be seen as a cheap, one-size-fits-all commodity. You can score big points with your clients simply by focusing on what you do best and giving them the products and services they need to run their business.

 

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Written by Mathieu Leblanc Business Development and Partner Network Director @ SherWeb

Mathieu Leblanc is SherWeb's Partner Network Director. His extensive experience in the field helps him pinpoint upcoming trends that matter to MSPs and IT consultants.