Guest Column | April 11, 2017

How To Sell Managed Services To Small Businesses

BSM Matt Forman, The Local Circuit

By Matt Forman, Owner, The Local Circuit and ASCII Group member since 2014

In today’s market, MSPs have that perfect client in mind when they step out their door to make a sale: one that pays thousands of dollars a month for our services. It’s what we shoot for in large part because a lot of us like to follow the less is more philosophy.

The goal is to maintain fewer clients that pay a premium so we end of up with less work and fewer endpoints to manage on a daily basis. Although there is some truth to this objective, it is possible this approach ends up leaving a large amount of opportunities and easy to claim revenue on the table.

Targeting small businesses with the intent of providing them some or all of your service stack can not only be helpful to the client, but help your bottom line as well. Small businesses are no different than their bigger counter parts. They need technology to conduct business and they need it to run smoothly. From PCI compliance and file sharing to Security as a Service and cloud backups, every small organization typically has the same base layer of IT needs. It doesn’t matter if they are a two-person home office startup or your 10-employee small town business — they all need secure networks and functional computers.

The benefit for MSPs is small businesses are easy to manage and have simple networks, just the way their owners want them. Most of these businesses will be peer to peer, working off a single switch and utilizing a NAS box or simple Windows file share. From an MSP standpoint, these sized clients are not only simple to manage but easy to replace or upgrade during an onboarding.

Because an office like this is so simple to manage, the profit comes from the lack of work needed to maintain this type of environment. If you take advantage of your RMM, scripting, and automation the client site becomes almost a set-it-and-forget-it opportunity.

As a business, our goal is to work with other small businesses owners who see the value in technology. These are people who understand the computers and network they utilize are assets that increase their bottom line. So, the challenge of selling managed services to small businesses is two-fold: they have a smaller budget and lack of technical knowhow.

When approaching a small business, it’s important to keep in mind they may not have the technology budget that gets us that $3,000 check every month. But there is still profit to be made in having them as a client. You may find they can’t afford your $200 BDR solution every month, but they still need a cloud-based backup. Their free antivirus software could be replaced with your managed antivirus solution and the constant malware infections could be stopped by simply installing your UTM of choice. Look for ways to bundle the essentials of your service stack which could make their technology not just work better, but work for them.

Educating the client is also a major part of approaching small businesses with the possibility of becoming their MSP. SMBs need to know they are the high-value targets in the world of cyber-crime today. Infections like ransomware aren’t something only the big guys get. They need to be informed not only their productivity but their profits can increase with just a small amount of management on your part. Take the time to discuss things such as proactive management, fixed billing, rapid response times, and the importance of network security in your sales approach.

One thing you have to keep in mind is many small business owners or decision makers are not tech savvy. We as MSPs need be able to convey our thoughts and offerings on a non-technical level. We must also address non-technical items such as lack of control and the fear of change that most small clients will have. But, most importantly, we need to be able to justify our services as a line item in their small budget.

With the vast majority of the businesses in the U.S. considered small, there is no shortage of sales opportunities. At the end of the month, a $500 client that doesn’t call you for help during the month is still a $500-a-month client; or an extra $6,000 to your bottom line every year with next to no labor costs on your part. It only takes a handful of these small, easy-to-manage clients before you have increased your bottom line significantly, all with simple low cost solutions and with next to zero support calls from the clients.