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Have you ever read something that just stopped you dead in your tracks? This one surely will: It’s an article entitled “How to Start a Consulting Business,” found on Entrepreneur.com. The following quote contained in the article has caused a lot of concern:
“A consultant’s job is to consult—nothing more, nothing less. It’s that simple. There’s no magic formula or secret that makes one consultant more successful than another one.”
I think many managed service providers know that this is the farthest thing from the truth. It’s just like saying to someone that a top chef in a prestigious restaurant is simply cooking, and what he or she is doing is no different than what the average person does when they cook in their kitchen.
The Highly Successful MSP Consultant
The Entrepreneur.com article went on to say that anyone could be a consultant in this day and age. In theory, this is true, however to be a truly successful managed services provider isn’t so easy.
A lot of MSPs will tell you that they’re doing this type of work because they like it, and they need to make a living. These are both valid points; it’s crucial to enjoy your job or you’ll be facing an unbearably tedious lifestyle. And, it’s certainly important and necessary to make a living. But if you’re only in the business to make money, this won’t be enough to make you successful.
What separates a highly successful MSP from an average one is how they answer the question: “Why am I doing this?” The most successful consultants have a well-thought-out and understood answer to this question.
Result vs. Reason
You can earn a decent living as an MSP, but it shouldn’t be the reason you’re in the business. It will be obvious to your clients if so. And, if you’re in it for the money, you’ll likely be tempted to make thoughtless compromises such as lowering your fees to land a project, cutting corners to meet a deadline, or even taking a selfish position in a negotiation while trying to close a sale.
Making money is attractive, but in the long run, it won’t attract the right type of business that will help you succeed. Money should be the result of your efforts, not the reason that’s driving them.
“The Secret Formula”— The “Why” That Sets You Apart From The Competition
It’s important to differentiate yourself from the competition, but as an MSP it’s not always so easy to do. This is because similar services are the basis of most consulting businesses. For instance, many IT consultants offer IT strategies, and operations to improve a client’s efficiency, productivity and ultimately their profitability. Clients can also boost revenue with sales improvement companies, and from the client’s perspective, as long as the result’s the same they’re happy.
You must find market differentiators that clients care about and that other MSPs aren’t doing. One way to do this is to promote and demonstrate the importance of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
If your reason for being an MSP is understood, it will give clients a reason to be drawn to you. People enjoy doing business with those who appear to have a strong sense of purpose. Certainly, in order to keep a client, you must deliver on promises you’ve made and strive to be the best MSP you can possibly be. But by also demonstrating your purpose and that you love what you do, the initial attraction the client had for you will be strengthened.
Continue To Promote a Strong Sense of Company Purpose
A strong sense of company purpose will fuel the growth of your company. A lot of highly competitive markets are filled with companies from diverse industries—all attempting to differentiate themselves from others just like them.
For example, many home-exercise companies offer variations of the same nutrition plans and exercise. Les Mills, a New Zealand-based fitness company, has been expanding all across the world based on its purpose to “create a fitter planet, one workout at a time.”
99designs became a top marketplace for graphic design, even though they’re competing in a cutthroat market. They achieved this by providing an “environment where designers from all walks of life can find opportunity and compete on a level playing field…”
Both of these companies have drawn customers to them with their quality offerings and the strong sense of purpose they display. Look for an honest, inspiring reason to serve the needs of your clients; it doesn’t have to be world changing—look for a tangible reason that will resonate with them.
Ulistic can help you perfect your answer to the question: “Why am I doing this?” Call us today at 716.799.1999 ext. 102 to arrange a no obligation consult to learn how we can help your MSP business achieve stratospheric success!
Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL and Fort Erie, ON-based Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.
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