In the years that I’ve worked with large technology vendors and an MSP provider, there were a few common denominators between the ones that were successful. Partners that were consistently at the top of the food chain were the ones consistently providing value to their customers in some area other than just one specific product or service that was being offered.

For example, The channel partner that had the ability to integrate the overall client system with the technology being addressed would win more business. Or if we’re talking about routing technology, and the partner knew routers but could also integrate the client’s switching infrastructure, it was an order of magnitude better.

MSP providers are always a preferred route to win new business. But it’s also the same for the client. They are always going to look for an MSP provider that has a well-rounded business that can support them in good times and bad.

Let’s look at what that means. We’re giving you the inside scoop on how you can look at your MSP through the eyes of a potential client: what they look for, and what can make you rise to the top of the consideration pile. As a bonus, we’ve included a checklist you can download and use to make sure you’re keeping on target as life, and the MSP provider game, change.


Why would a client want a MSP provider?

There are a lot of internal reasons companies make the decision to outsource their IT needs to a specialized provider. For some of you, it might even be the reason you decided to go your own way and offer managed services.

It generally boils down to four common motivations:

  • Lack of skills within a company. It takes a lot to run an IT department. In fact, if you’re not a large company with well-run IT management and a healthy budget, it’s almost impossible. The costs can be enormous, and you can have an IT staff but still not have all of the skills necessary. Hiring an MSP is just a ticket for many clients.
  • Too big of a job. MSP clients are going to be concerned that they cannot handle the job by themselves. It’s too much for their limited staff, or maybe they don’t have enough staff for a large migration and cutover. This is where you can offer MSP customers the expertise and the manpower to fill in the gap. When you have a checklist already made for the client to use, you’re showing thought leadership and can demonstrate that you are prepared to support the potential client from the beginning.
  • Shifting workforce. Many times, MSP customers are not going to have the right staff in place when they need it. COVID was a good example of this. Maybe they’re going through a move or a merger and there have been changes in staff?
  • Save money. To be honest, this is probably the number one motivator. It costs a lot to maintain a fully-staffed IT department, even for large companies. As an MSP provider, you can help scale these costs and customize them to what clients need, and when they need it. As new budget becomes available you will be able to grow with them. Here is an ROI calculator to help with this process.

Four things clients look for in an MSP Provider

1. MSP Experience

Typically, when clients are looking at MSP “experience” (and they are!), this extends across the entire company. Clients want to feel a sense of confidence in the people they are placing their trust, and their productivity, in… especially when it’s outside of the direct sphere of control. One of the ways we do that is by looking at experience—both from the company as a whole, and individual expertise.

Typical evaluation questions include things like: Does the MSP provider have experienced staff, or are they just using people right out of training? Or even shadier, are they pawning off work to low-level contractors to save money? Are there experienced managers in the MSP provider? Do they employ people that know how to conduct telephone/chat support in a professional manner?

2. Technical Expertise


Technical expertise goes without saying, but it is worth noting that the way you present that expertise is also important. Not only do you need to be familiar with current IT trends and skillsets, but the client’s systems in particular. For example, If you have a company that is a heavy user of database applications, But your MSP does not have expertise in this area; this is going to be a weakness.

There needs to be technical expertise that is deep and wide. You should have people that have experience in all areas you are offering support. That’s not just technical experience, but experience in how to provide support, experience in times of emergencies, and other critical areas.

Typical questions a client will ask themselves include: Does this MSP provider have general expertise I know I need. Did they show me they have expertise in areas I didn’t realize I needed? Most importantly, does this MSP provider have a mastery of technical expertise in my area of need?

Note: be upfront about any skill area you are not proficient in. It would be a disaster to have a client relationship fail because you over-promised, and then weren’t able to provide the services they needed. On top of that, being a known expert in a defined area can actually lead to more clients through hyperspecialization.

3. Industry knowledge

It’s critical that the MSP understands your business and your industry. If your MSP client has a chain of healthcare centers, and you as the MSP aren’t familiar with HIPAA, that’s a big problem.

Before you meet with potential clients, make sure you’re familiar and can emphasize your knowledge of their industry. Also, be able to understand and demonstrate your knowledge of the latest industry trends for your MSP client-to-be. Ask them deep questions about their business. Find out what is important to them and ask them questions about it.

4. Up to Date

What does the MSP provider’s training program look like? Are people in the MSP fully up to date with certifications and the latest technology updates? Are they keeping these certifications going? These are just a few areas that should be surveyed at least on a quarterly basis. Be able to show the MSP client your track record of training and certifications. And how often you keep it up to date. Here is an excellent resource site for MSPs.


How to separate yourself from the pack

There’s also a number of anecdotal elements and general things that make your MSP really stand out to a potential customer. An MSP client is going to want to ensure that they can trust you with their data. There are many times that the MSP provider will be working with sensitive data. Or maybe just general trustworthiness. Do you make deadlines? How do you conduct yourself in business deals? These are elements that prove themselves over time and build trust.

Let’s look at a few specific ways you can put some polish on your reputation.

Proof of record

As a well-rounded MSP provider, you need to have a good track record and be able to demonstrate it in multiple ways. Record and keep up-to-date certifications and have them displayed on your website or in your offices. Records of your current MSP client’s uptime. You can record this in your client management tools (It should be documented anyway). But keep all of them in an aggregate record to show prospective MSP customers.

Then when the client asks for this information, you can point to your company website and show that your clients have a 99.9% aggregate uptime. And don’t forget to ask the client for referrals also after a successful engagement. These referrals are invaluable later on.

Specific SLAs

Are you aware of this service level and can you demonstrate this to the client? If the MSP customer is used to SLAs, discuss it on their terms. If not, use more esoteric language. But you should be showing them that you support specific levels of service. This will add a professional edge that many other MSP providers will not have.

Proactive vs. Reactive

Are you able to show clients you are oriented toward proactive support vs a break/fix model? This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your reporting capabilities in your management tools. Tell them about other situations where you’ve used your advanced management tools to proactively support them. For example, tell them about a similar client a year ago where your management platform discovered an anomaly on their system. And because you found this it avoided a serious denial of service attack. Here is a good example of how to do this.

Scalable support

It’s the same issue with scalable support. Can you show them that you support companies their size? And show them how you can grow with them. Your management platform can help you scale this support as well. As an MSP provider, you should always be looking for gaps in their coverage. Continuous communications with MSP clients on an ongoing basis will ensure you are there to provide coverage and gain new business when the time comes.

Client security

It is critical that you discuss your MSP client’s security needs, even if you are not deep into information security. You need to show what security expertise you do have, and have access to, and that you are looking at their security in a proactive way.

Disaster and recovery strategies

The same consideration should be shown to disaster recovery. As an MSP provider, you may not specialize in disaster recovery. But you need to discuss it with your prospective MSP customer and make sure they know you have a plan. How do you use your management tools? What is your backup strategy? Discuss other disaster recovery experiences you have had in the past.


How does Auvik help MSPs manage clients?

  • Visibility into managed networks. Auvik gives you visibility into all your managed networks. The MSP customer is going to want to know how you are going to do the best job for them, so being able to demonstrate the ability to see and manage all aspects of a client’s network quickly and remotely is a selling point.
  • Manage multiple networks. Auvik also gives you the ability to manage multiple networks from the same platform. You can use multiple collectors at each MSP client and the same management platform at the MSP provider’s network operations center.
  • Mapping their network. Once a customer is added to Auvik, the MSP can quickly get a better idea of how their network is laid out. This is a great way to perform asset management, streamline operations, and standardize on a consistent set of assets. This will show the client possible performance issues or where they can standardize their hardware. Creating more business for the MSP provider. Here are ideas on how to incorporate Auvik into your company’s standard operating procedures.
  • Automate system logging and configuration backup. It’s important for MSP providers to have a good plan for logging and problem resolution, as well as backing up the MSP customer’s configurations. This can easily be done with Auvik. These tools are an important time saver for the MSP and the client.
  • Ease of use. Auvik is cloud-based and easy to install and use. This is important when doing upgrades so you don’t have to have outages scheduled for all of your clients.
  • See how Auvik can be the partner you never knew your MSP needed! Take our risk-free 14-day trail today.


Bonus download: Client MSP checklist.

An MSP checklist is critical. It is something that you want to have in your back pocket all of the time. Don’t wait for the client to ask for it. Here is an example of an MSP checklist. Of course, you should customize this to display your own set of strengths. Click the image to download a copy!

Downloadable MSP checklist
Downloadable MSP checklist

John Cross

About John Cross


Leave a comment

Got something to say? Name and email are required, but don't worry, we won't publish your email address.

*