Why do MSPs partner with vendors? Though the strategy behind this question is quite extensive, the theory is very simple: trust.
As an MSP owner for 25 years, I know that I could not have grown my company without strong vendor relationships. Your solutions solve problems for my clients. The products and services you offer mitigate cyber-attacks, enable them to be more productive and efficient, foster a secure hybrid work environment, make them money, and so much more.
Essentially, we can’t survive without each other!
Now, I am donning my image consultant hat. As an image consultant and branding coach, it’s my mission to “humanize” vendors and other tech-minded folks by teaching them how to build trust-based relationships and memorable personal brands.
As an MSP, I view a vendor as an extension of my company. I look for a vendor to align with my corporate brand and values. When an issue arises, my client isn’t going to blame the vendor, they will simply look to me for the resolution.
We know that there are many products and services on the market that do what any given vendor does. There are several backup solutions, spam filters, pen testers, etc.
So how does an MSP decide to partner with one vendor over another? It’s almost purely based on emotions. Here are a few key considerations I use before signing a contract:
- Does your solution or service have a successful and consistent track-record of doing what you say it will do? Or am I hearing from peers that there are performance issues, non-empathetic support, or they have trouble getting a support representative on the line?
- Do you have glowing testimonials from my peers who have a had a great experience dealing with your company?
- Do you really understand my industry? Or do you only speak to features and benefits of your product, versus understand the true value of the product or service you offer?
- Do your sales and technical representatives look and sound empathetic and professional? If I care about the perception of my brand, I want you to care about yours too.
Only the first bullet point is about the actual maturity and tangible impact of your product or service. The other three bullet points are focused on perception and client experience. Do I feel, after doing research, that you will be the best fit for my MSP and ultimately help to grow my clients?
We have so much opportunity in our channel! This also comes with a massive amount of competition.
How do you and your team stand out from the sea-of-sameness and earn my trust?
Where to Start
Use the acronym V.E.N.D.O.R. as a checklist to assess how your entire team, from owner to admin, is doing and where you need additional emphasis:
V – Visuals – What is an MSP “seeing?” Two considerations here: Corporate branding and team branding.
- Corporate Branding – This is your traditional logos, trade show booths, marketing collateral, swag. Does it all align with your company’s core values and are what you do and what problem you solve clear to the MSP owner?
- Personal Branding – Even more important, what message is your team sending? Do they appear in-line with your brand? Do they make eye contact? Smile? Stand confidently? Sloppy appearing team members may lead people to think the product or work will be sloppy too.
E – Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – EQ is our ability to empathize and find connection with our audience and manage our emotions when responding. Are you presenting a contract? Delivering a product demo? Conducting a difficult conversation with someone unhappy with your service? It’s critical to demonstrate that you understand the needs of my MSP, and more importantly, my client. What are their issues that need solving? How can you help me grow my business? The way you respond builds or breaks trust.
N – Nonverbal Communication – There is a saying: “We listen with our eyes.” Without speaking a word, our body language sends clues that make others feel heard and understood or ignored and devalued. It’s human nature to create a perception and story in our mind just by looking at someone’s eyes, face, arms, clothing, and posture. Ask your peers, what do they see? What do your clients see? Be open to the feedback.
D – Dynamic Dialogue – Words are powerful, but our tone of voice is even more impactful. Does your team sound empathetic? Excited? Engaged? Annoyed? Distracted? What they say and how they say it has a direct correlation to building rapport and trust.
O – Open Communication – I look for vendors that willingly share company updates, alerts to market development funding, updates when there is a glitch with their product, or any changes that impact my client’s day-to-day productivity. Communication helps to manage my expectations and allows me to set expectations with my team and clients.
R – Reliability – When my client has an issue, no matter the time of day, will you provide technical support? If I escalate an issue, how quickly do you respond? Reliability builds credibility. How consistent are you?
So how do you score on the VENDOR scale? If you and your team are open, empathetic relationship-builders, great! If MSPs perceive you as an unemotional, transactional vendor, reach out and let’s talk. I am excited to see you shine!
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