Guest Column | October 25, 2013

Change Your Name, Please

By Gil Cargill, Sales Acceleration Coach, Cargill Consulting, Inc.

What's in a name? The answer is: everything. One of the biggest problems facing the MSP profession is the name of the profession, MSP. What does that mean to the average business man or woman? Obviously, to insiders it stands for managed services provider. But, you see, we don't sell to insiders; we sell to "civilians." My definition of civilian is someone who has the authority to make or break a business decision regarding establishing a retainer-based relationship with an IT consultant, who does not understand IT at the level that you do.  Consequently, your name should be something that a civilian can instantly recognize.

For instance, I will wager that you'll have far more traction, if you present yourself as an IT systems management consultant or just a systems management consultant, than you'll have if you present yourself as a managed services provider. To prove my point, why don't you go into any public forum – your church, neighborhood community meeting, PTA, you name it – and identify yourself as a managed services provider.  I will bet that you'll get blank stares of confusion. You won't get an expression of instant recognition and its concurrent response. When people are confused, they don't have trust. When we don't have trust, we don't make buying decisions. Consequently, the lack of a readily identifiable name for our profession, to some degree, reduces the ability of all of us to gain access to decision-makers.

Spend some time crafting a phrase that identifies your business, based on what it does. The phrase “outsourced IT systems manager” clearly identifies the role you'll play in a business.  Now, I'm not saying that's the title that you should embrace, but it is an example of a title that instantaneously communicates the services that you provide. On the other side of the coin, if you continue to present yourself as a managed services provider, you must be prepared to answer the question, "What services do you provide?" Or, worse, "Why should I have a need for those services?" You see, don't confuse your prospects with an identifier that doesn't explain what you do.

I think you'll find it far easier to say, "I am an IT Systems Consultant. I manage my clients' IT infrastructure to optimize their business' operating conditions." That's a far better introduction / elevator speech than "I'm a Managed Service Provider."

Spend some time identifying yourself, because I think that the world is changing.  As I say in my companion article below…


We're Not In A Break-Fix World Anymore

By Gil Cargill, Sales Acceleration Coach, Cargill Consulting, Inc.

I'm liberally paraphrasing from the movie, The Wizard of Oz, but Dorothy told her pet that they weren't in Kansas anymore. Some IT consultancies believe that the day of the break/fix business plan will continue or, even, will resurrect itself. I'm here to tell you that it won't.

As the reliability of technology increases and the cost of replacing technology decreases, there's an ever-tightening squeeze around the break/fix business model. At some point in the near future, you'll find it impossible to sell and conduct break/fix projects profitably.

The ultimate tragedy is that, while many IT consultants adhere to the break/fix business model (albeit while giving lip service to the retainer-based business model), they're losing marketshare, profitability and, most tragically, their future.

New technology, such as cloud computing, is drastically changing the landscape of the IT consultant world.  Start positioning yourself, as soon as possible, as an organization which helps companies improve their businesses' operating conditions by optimizing the effectiveness, efficiency, productivity and, therefore, profitability of their IT infrastructure.

If you are helping a business achieve its strategic and tactical goals, you have immense value.  If all you do is fix broken computers then, sooner or later, there will be little or no work for you.  Make sure that you position yourself to work at the side, but not on the payroll, of business decision-makers; and you'll find your future to be very rosy.