January 14, 2016 by Tris Hussey

We started saying no to customers, and you wouldn't believe what happened next

We started saying no to customers, and you wouldn't believe what happened next

Our business started to grow. Here’s why.

Managed services is a tricky business. Managed services is a wide-open term that could mean lots of different things to lots of different people. I’m going to start with a broad (but succinct) definition: managed IT services is helping a company with their technology. That’s a great start, but it’s also the first step into a giant tar pool that can suck you in and eat your business alive. The problem is that if you don’t start saying “no”, you’re saying “yes” to everything and that doesn’t actually make good business strengths.

Once we started saying no and focused on three key offerings, our business was able to fall into place and we could start really growing.

Here are 6 reasons way saying no works for managed IT services providers.

Focus on core strengths

No one is great at everything. Period. We know this in ourselves, so why do we act like this is surprising for IT providers? Microserve has provided helpdesk and desktop management solutions to the public and private sector for nearly 30 years, so, yeah, we think we’re pretty good at it.

Focusing on your core strengths lets you leverage the experience, processes, and infrastructure you already have in place instead of trying to start fresh in new territory. When you focus on your core strengths, you speak with, and from, authority. Customers see and hear this confidence and it makes them more confident in choosing you as their technology solution provider.

Focusing on your core strengths doesn’t mean you never try to expand into new areas of expertise and business, but you expand strategically relying on your core as a foundation. Creating a Cloud Services offering here at Microserve is a great example of building on our experience managing servers for clients turning into helping more companies move data and applications to the cloud. We were already leveraging the cloud for customers, so why not expand to offer it to more people.


Less distraction for technical and service teams

It takes years to become competent in any technical discipline. I’ve been doing web and digital marketing for 20 years and I still have new things to learn all the time. Saying yes to a company just to win their business, but who uses technology that you have no expertise in, you have two choices: hire the experts or try to learn it fast. Honestly, neither of those are great options. Either way you’re cobbling things together just to make something work that you probably shouldn’t have tried to take on in the first place.

Like a formula one race car driver agreeing to compete in an off road rally competition, sure both races involve driving, but very different styles of driving and completely different cars you race.

Technical and service teams need continuous training and development to stay on the top of their game, but throwing something wholly new into the mix out of the blue will only create stress and probably sub par results for the customer too.

Cohesive marketing and value offerings

Every time I read marketing material and I see things like “we can build any solution you want!” I know that I’m dealing with a company that has no focus. Any marketer faced with writing material where there is no clear product line (we can do it all) or value to customer is in for a challenge. Marketing materials for companies like that wind up with content about as interesting and appealing as cold oatmeal. Compelling content needs a clear focus.

We offer first line helpdesk solutions for companies with 500 or more people where internal IT can’t complete key projects because they are always fixing and troubleshooting employee computer problems.
It’s clear what the offering (first line helpdesk solutions) and value (let existing IT get to the project work that is falling behind) are from just a single sentence. When you say no and offer set solutions, your marketing team can dive in and create content that sells the solution and the value. Without focus, marketing’s job is a lot harder and all the content a lot weaker. Weak content doesn't connect or help sell. Weak content is just weak.

More focused sales team

Where marketing goes, sales follows. Clear, explainable offerings are easier to sell than the “we’ll do whatever you want” model. When sales is talking with a lead and they don’t fit the service offerings then that’s it, the sales executive can move onto more promising business. Going back and forth with the technical and professional service teams with “can we do this?” questions takes a lot of time and if you don’t win the business, that’s time completely wasted. No one likes turning down business or saying no, but people don’t like wasting time either.

Established service offerings are easier to explain, easier to sell, and it’s much easier to know right away if there is a good fit. When the fit isn’t right the business is either lost (but not after a lot of wasted sales time) or never quite works for the managed services provider or the customer. It’s better to have business that fits than something that never quite works for anyone.

Turn proposals around faster

When you know helpdesk services cost $X/person and there are discounts at certain scales, then proposals are easier to put together. The pricing is set, the value to the customer is the same (or very similar), and the terms can at least start at a standard place. Faster proposals mean faster closing deals, simple as that. If you can get a proposal in someone’s hand when they are excited and interested, your chance for success is a lot higher than if you have to wait days and the urgency has faded.

Once the process starts to slow and cool, it becomes a lot harder for sales to close the deal. That’s sales 101. And it starts with being able to put together proposals quickly and easily.

Simpler, repeatable deals

Hand in hand with proposals is being able to create repeat business with similar companies. You can’t completely recycle a proposal or a pitch, but with set offerings you can build a message and cadence that is repeatable across companies. Standard deals are easier to train new sales staff to sell, easier to prospect for, and easier to close.

Familiarity brings confidence. Confidence in the pitch. Confidence in the message. Confidence in the solution. You can’t build that kind of confidence if every pitch is an experiment in “what will this customer respond to”. Standard offerings bring the familiarity that brings confidence.

Simply, what we do

At Microserve we have three managed IT services offerings: helpdesk, desktop management, and comprehensive IT management solutions. Our offerings are based on the model of above. These are solutions core to our business and we have the experience, people, and infrastructure to deliver on each of these solutions.

Learn more about Microserve Managed Services solution offerings and contact us to find out how we make IT easy for you.

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