Ask Intronis: How to differentiate my offering

Posted by Courtney Steinkrauss on Mar 16, 2015 9:00:00 AM

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Ask Intronis is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between. Submit your questions by emailing AskIntronis@intronis.com.

Q: I am finding it harder and harder to stand out from the competition. What can I do to differentiate my services offering when I talk to new business prospects? The managed services business is a crowded marketplace, so I want to make sure I can bring in new business and expand my customer base. 

14565350736_0c1456e0f8_zGreat question. This is something we frequently talk about with our partners so we understand that competition from other service providers is a big concern. 

We discussed this issue with Christian Brown and Randy Thay, Intronis Partner Development Managers. Here are their three pieces of advice to help you land a new customer:

1. Leverage the added value in your offering 

Figure out what makes you different from the competition. Do you offer extensive support services? Do you or your technicians have any certifications? Are you considered a thought leader among your channel peers?

Then pin-point what added value your services provide the prospect. Focus on how your services simplify the decisions, needs, and processes for the small business.

For example a common challenge we hear is, “I can’t compete against the price of a consumer-grade solution.” While you might not be able to lower your price drastically enough to beat theirs, you can market all the support services, expert knowledge, and other benefits of working with your IT services business. 

2. Market to specific verticals

If you’re not targeting a specific vertical, you’re losing new business. There is a huge opportunity here for IT service providers who develop expertise in a vertical and can showcase that knowledge. A big part of this is understanding compliance, as it pertains to each industry.

A few examples of verticals that are regulated by compliance are health care providers (HIPAA), financial services firms (FINRA), businesses that process credit cards (PCI DSS), and accounting organizations (SSAE 16). For the small business operating in these fields, being compliant is extremely important. If you know all the facts, follow best practices, and satisfy compliance standards you’ll be in a position to grow your business.

What’s key is to showcase what you know by educating the small business owner on what it means to be compliant. Talk about the potential repercussions their small business could face if they’re noncompliant. Ask them what would happen if your business was audited? Would it pass? That’s when you bring it home. Inform them of the fines and legal ramifications of failing an audit. Assure that your services adhere to all necessary and required regulations. 

3. Prove your worth

After determining what makes your services unique and what you can leverage to win new business, establish how you measure up against the competition. Have something to show the prospect that spells out why your services are the better option. Study up on the key players you’re up against, understand their capabilities, and find the holes in what they’re offering.

Take these findings and compile them in a competitive matrix or battle card. Create something that you can then easily send over to the prospect. Make sure you have something for them to take home, something they can share with the other key decision makers at their business. Present them the facts and provide them all the supplemental evidence they need to make an informed decision.They will feel better about their decision, and so will you. 

Understanding the added value in your services, becoming an expert in a specific vertical, and presenting the facts in competitive materials are just a few of the ways you can help your business stand up against the competition. We hope that you’re able to bring in a significant amount of new business following Christian and Randy’s advice.

Photo Credit: Nguyen Hung Vu on Flikr. Used under CC 2.0 license. 

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Topics: Differentiation, Ask Intronis

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