The most important aspect in any MSPs business is establishing partnerships – there’s absolutely nothing more important if you wish to be successful than understanding the reasons why you should partner and then deciding who you’ll partner with.
There’s a number of people MSPs should look to partner with and I’d like to make a suggestion on who they might be and why:
- Customers: This is obviously a no brainer, but a lot of people overlook this and simply become service providers to their customer base. That isn’t enough if you want a mutually fulfilling relationship – you need to be partners in every sense. Your success should be tied to the success of the customers business; if you can provide them with the technology underpinnings to outperform their competitors, price becomes irrelevant and you start to deliver true value to customers. In saying that, customers need to WANT to partner, some are more than content with a service provider relationship and never want you to do anything else than deliver a good service – there’s nothing wrong with this, but demonstrating value to customers in this scenario is very difficult and you could quite easily be replaced by someone else who is doing it cheaper, or promising better service (whether or not that is true, is another story).
- Industry Groups: There’s a number of industry groups for MSPs which are great environments for networking and for improving every aspect of your business – some examples would be HTG, Service Leadership, local business chambers etc. There’s a difference though between ‘attending’ these groups and ‘partnering’ with these groups and I’d suggest the difference is intent – if you’re going there with the intent to share, participate, learn, give back and grow together then you’re partnering with them – if you’re there to just improve yourself and be passive, I’d suggest that you’re not partnering – both are valid approaches and there’s no judgement here but I truly believe that one has tremendous payback associated to it
- Vendors: This is a tricky one and can be fraught with difficulties – some vendors understand partnership and want not just for you to sell their products, but to do better business and offer you the support and guidance to do so but in return they may expect more from you than a traditional vendor – a greater share of your business, a case study, assistance on steering committees or advisory boards etc – but if you’re not prepared to give, how can you expect a vendor to do so?. Other vendors just don’t get (or value) partnership and want nothing other than for you to buy/sell more of their stuff – again, both valid and common approaches but their value differs greatly. At Anittel we try to not go as wide but go much deeper with the vendors that we work with and try greatly to partner with each organisation that wants to partner with us and can see the value in doing so – we’re very fortunate to have great partners in industry as a result of this open approach and look forward to those relationships being long lasting and mutually beneficial
- Your staff: another one that sounds pretty self explanatory but is overlooked regularly. Your employees are the front line of your business, they’re who your customers see every day and who they form relationships with. Partnering with your employees is not as simple as offering them a job and some occasional training or a perk here and there – it’s about understanding what they want out of their career and supporting and developing them to get there, whether that’s inside of your business or elsewhere. I’ve been very fortunate to have some great people supporting my career inside of Anittel and they’ve chosen to partner with me to increase my skills and leadership ability not just by offering courses, or career opportunities, but by sharing their wisdom and being patient with me lack of wisdom. Should I ever choose to leave Anittel I believe that it will be with the full support of those people who have nurtured me – my friend Tim Brewer says it as “It’s not being cast off, it’s being launched out and having those people tell everyone how great you are” or something like that, I may be paraphrasing and he probably used more words!
I hope you can see the value in partnership and choose to pursue that with all around you, the personal and professional value is inestimable – I also hope that when you come across vendors or people that don’t value partnership that you choose to attempt to persuade them and if not, find an alternative because you are forgoing a lot of value and rewarding poor behaviour by working with people or organisations that don’t understand partnership.