I received an email the other day congratulating me on a column I wrote for NetworkWorld nearly three years ago entitled, "Why Managed Services Fail."
The 'shelf-life' of web content always amazes me, but it is gratifying to have people stumble across my past writings and still find them timely.
What struck me as I revisited this 2005 column was how many of my points were still true,
- "...Almost every supplier and service provider I talk to admits that selling managed services has been harder than expected."
- "The first problem these managed service providers face is packaging."
- "The second issue is pricing."
- "The third challenge is positioning these services properly."
- "But the biggest obstacle to selling managed services is poor sales skills."
Although industry research clearly shows that customers are becoming more receptive towards managed services and the economy is even driving an increasing number of customers to actively pursue managed service alternatives, many MSPs are still suffering from poor sales and marketing skills to respond to these opportunities.
They are still thinking in terms of selling products rather than services. They are still promoting the 'speeds and feeds' of their technical capabilities rather than the business value of their service capabilities.
As a consequence, many MSPs end up selling their services to IT managers who are only interested in continuing to buy systems and software rather than selling solutions to higher level decision makers who are interested in the business impact of their services.
Worthy of Your Business?
So, if you are an IT or business decision-maker who is seeking to acquire managed services, don't be surprised if your potential MSPs are talking to you in the wrong terms and trying to sell you the wrong value propositions.