Does the language you use in your MSP business affect the success of your business by changing how people think of you? That’s the interesting conversation we’re going to have today.
Back when I owned a communications company, I worked with a lot of lawyers, architects, accountants, and management consultants. And it was a very clear rule that when I was writing for them, we always referred to the people who engaged their services as clients, not customers. The professions are quite adamant about this and do see the distinction between customer and client as a marker of a higher level of service.
Does this apply—or can it apply—to managed service providers? Can you help people see you as a strategic business advisor rather than a technician who fixes computer problems with a simple switch in words? Later in the show, I talk this through with Craig Pollack, founder and CEO of LA-based FPA Technology Services.
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But first, our 1 Thing segment, where we hear from an MSP about 1 thing that’s made a difference in their business. Today we have Barb Paluszkiewicz, CEO of CDN Technologies. (I interviewed Barb about her service philosophy in episode 024.)
1 Thing (#MSP1T)[01:48] Barb’s one thing is paying attention to the data. She shares the three different ways to approach numbers as an MSP.
[03:57] Barb is an IT sales rep turned business owner. She has been sharing technical concepts with non-technical people for over 20 years.
[05:16] Barb made the mistake of hiring family members early on which led to a traumatic CRA audit.
[06:29] But she realized that the business was a numbers game. She had a great sales process. She had great IT people. The CRA audit taught her that the one thing that could make her MSP a success was to know her numbers and know how to do math.
[07:31] The first financial struggle every MSP will experience is cash flow. Keep your receivables current. Get a handle on cash flow management.
[08:51] Make sure you’re getting paid for the work that you do.
[09:34] Second is to not be shy about your value. You deserve to be paid for the value you deliver. Offer your services to people who understand the value of what you offer.
[11:46] Get out there and talk to people and let them know that you can solve their problems. Developing your sales skills is critical to making sure you have great numbers.
[12:32] The third financial struggle that can interrupt your business is not knowing your numbers around cost and pricing. You need to attract the right buyers for your services.
[13:52] Position yourself within a range and know what clients you want to go after. You’re not going to be the right choice for all buyers. You also have to calculate your cost when calculating your price.
[14:21] Make sure you have enough money to make it all worthwhile, not just cover your expenses.
What’s your 1 Thing? What idea, strategy, tool, book, process, thing made a real difference to your MSP career or business. Put another way, let’s say a new MSP walked up to you at conference and said, “I’m just getting started in this space. What advice can you give me? What’s worked for you?” and you can only tell them 1 thing. What would that 1 thing be?
Tell us in a voice memo and email the recording to [email protected] Not only could you be podcast-famous by being featured on the show, I’ll also send you a Frankly MSP t-shirt. They’re pretty cool and I want to give them away!
Client or Customer: Does It Matter Which Label an MSP Uses? Interview with Craig Pollack[16:36] Craig believes MSPs should be calling the people they work with clients instead of customers.
[16:49] It’s a differentiating factor and it affects how MSPs are perceived. He wants to position his company as client service at a high professional level.
[18:23] Professions use the word client because it’s all about the relationships. We do ourselves a disservice by calling our clients customers.
[18:37] A customer is somebody you sell something to. A client is someone you have a relationship with.
[19:25] Everyone has to make their own decision about how they want to be perceived, but as a whole think about how we want to be perceived as an industry.
[19:42] It’s important to differentiate if we want to be seen as a profession rather than a commodity.
[20:51] What’s important to your clients may or may not be driven by price.
[21:18] If using client over customer makes people think we’re going to be more expensive, it’s still a win-win situation if we can provide more value, says Craig.
[21:58] It’s only a matter of time before MSPs will be more heavily regulated.
[22:46] Technology has come so far and so fast, that we as a society don’t have everything figured out yet.
[24:20] It might take some time before people who are educated about technology are in a position to create regulations for the industry.
[25:28] Regulation should filter out some of the competition. A shake-up would make the value proposition easier to communicate.
[26:30] A big part of what Craig does is educate his clients about the value of what he does. Things need to be delivered proactively rather than simply fixing things that are broken.
[27:30] Positioning yourself as a trusted adviser and calling people clients is moving in the right direction. Be about the relationship not sales.
[28:34] Because of the client relationship, upgrades don’t have to be forced on the client.
[29:03] New client acquisition falls under business development and marketing. Craig tries to provide knowledge and value as opposed to selling.
[30:40] Think about how we can elevate ourselves as an industry.