How To Get Your First Managed Service Clients

Yes, managed services can be a complex, high-ticket item that requires tons of high-level networking, security and other skills, but this is an article for the guys who are starting out and need a better model than just fixing grandma’s computer. Don’t get your feelings hurt if I make your super complicated job sound too easy. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Also, if you start reading this don’t just read it!  Take action on it.

Get Out Of Your Own Head

Too many people worry that they won’t be able to deliver on the promise of managed services. First of all, managed services isn’t an exact definition. It’s a made-up term someone thought of that really means very little to end users. For us, it simply means that you will provide a service to manage some aspect of their IT world. Typically, you will do this for a monthly recurring fee. You get to define what your managed services packages are. Hopefully that makes sense for you and keeps you from being hung up on definitions.

The most common managed services are remote monitoring and maintenance, managed anti-virus, remote support, and managed backup. One of the biggest excuses I hear from want-to-be MSPs is that they can’t figure out which tools to use. There are a plethora of providers to help you with this. Fear and analysis paralysis stop many people from taking action.  Instead, they will find busy work to keep them from actually achieving their goals like months long evaluations of a tool set.

Let me tell you a little secret. You will grow to hate whoever you chose at first, and you will probably switch at some point. Then you will hate that one and switch to another.  So, don’t worry about it. Just pick some tools and get to work.



Remote Control

Now comes the part where the fear goblin in your brainpan says, “But I can’t do it. What if I mess up?” Basically, you will be charging people to monitor their networks and try to keep them running well, and when they stop running well you will be there to fix it. Chances are you already do this and only charging when things break rather than implementing preventative maintenance. Have you ever said to yourself, “If that client would just backup and use antivirus like I ask them, they wouldn’t be having these problems.” Well, that’s your new job at a monthly rate. It isn’t a big deal. You are doing these services already, and for what you aren’t doing (automated backup, remote updates, etc.), the tools you just decided on will make insanely easy. Just pick the tools right now and know that at some point you will change them.

There is no perfect answer. Quit stalling.  Pick something, signup, and move on.

But I Can’t Afford The Tools!

Now if you are still worrying and asking, “but how can I afford these tools with no customers”, STOP IT! There are two choices here. Bite the bullet and invest in a tool you can afford, or sell the service to your clients first and then use their money to buy the tool. Either way works. Be a grown up and expect to pay something. This is not just a cost, it is an investment. Why? You will charge enough to make a profit.

If you are wondering, “I was really dumb and spent two months building my own tools out of open-source products. I wasted thousands of dollars of my time and I ultimately replaced them all with paid tools,” most of these tools have a trial period. Sell a client on the idea, get a check, get the trial and operate for free for a month. Kiss me later.

What do I sell? How much should I sell it for?

Easiest answer of all: The answers are SOMETHING and A REALLY GOOD PROFIT. Quit worrying and dreaming of what you are going to sell and just pick something already. Maybe it is as simple as Remote Monitoring and system updates for your clients. Maybe it is managed antivirus. Maybe it is a simple online backup. Heck, maybe it’s all three. It doesn’t matter. You need to pick one, maybe two packages and figure out your costs. Then pick a price to sell it at. Ok, now add 50% to it. Why? Because you probably picked a number that was too low because you have been scared of making a big change. So what is your number? Is it profitable? GREAT! You’ve come such a long way in just a few paragraphs. Seriously. Step back and think about it. If you have decided to take some actions here, you are making progress. Good job.

Don’t worry about a complex marketing funnel (yet).

“HERMAN! YOU ARE THE MARKETING DUDE! HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT!?” Well, since the majority of my readers are established break/fix repair shops, you probably have some clients already. Until you really have the whole marketing funnel process down, you need to focus on selling your service to the clients who already know and love you. I mean the ones that REALLY love you. Take a minute to think of a couple of names, I bet you can. See? Now you have some great leads. All you have to do is call them and ask to sit down with them to go over the new plans that can save them a ton of headaches and that headaches add up to money.

You already have a relationship with them. You are doing something that you know will benefit them. Why wouldn’t they accept? Chances are, some will and some won’t, but if you go for the low-hanging fruit first, you get something way more valuable than money. You get a test bed and the amazing feedback it generates. Over short time you will learn:

  • Does your sales pitch work?
  • Are you providing enough service?
  • The steps needed to get a new client onboard
  • Are you charging enough?

Make sure you document your experiences and create procedure for onboarding and sales.

Is It Really This Easy?

Yes, yes it is. People are doing this all over the world, and it is working for them. Now go out and get at least three clients to start paying you. Monthly recurring revenue adds up fast. As you learn from your clients via feedback, you can improve on your service offerings and start thinking about how to market it better.

Just to make sure you take action, we have hired one of the top motivational speakers in the country to deliver a special message to you.

Next week, I’ll sit down with ACRBO members who have taken this approach, and we will see how they are doing. What questions do you have for them? What tips would you share with a friend moving to the MSP model? Let me know in the comments, and let’s work together to grow our businesses.

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Herman Pool

Herman Pool is the current President of The Association of Computer Repair Business Owners.
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