4 Steps To Setting Your Company Apart From The Competition

Be unique and different. Red figurine is stand out from the crowd.

A question I frequently get asked is “How do I overcome the ‘we’re fine’ objection when prospecting?” Just the other day, an MSP client called in, befuddled by this objection.
He was convinced that the reason he kept getting it was because everyone in his particular market area was unsophisticated about technology and didn’t see the value of outsourcing their IT, much less on a recurring basis.

His question to me was about how he could get business owners to see the value of managed services. It’s the wrong question because it’s based on the wrong assumption. For starters, he was prospecting anyone who could fog a mirror.
That’s a bad start.

Marketing 101 is making sure you’re talking to the people who have the ability, authority, and desire to buy what you sell.
Next, I asked the more important question: “When you get in front of a qualified prospect who is outsourcing their IT support to someone else and who clearly sees the value of managed services (otherwise they wouldn’t already be paying someone for it), what do you say to convince them to consider switching to you?”

Crickets.

Well, folks, I think we found the problem.
The right answer to that question would have been his USP, or unique selling proposition, which answers the question of why a prospect should buy from you over all the other IT firms knocking on their door, and, more specifically, why they should choose you over the firm they already have an established relationship with.

What’s the promise that only you can make?
Unless that IT firm is royally screwing up, nobody is going to leave their current MSP for someone who is potentially better. And, if you cannot give them a single compelling reason to even consider having that conversation with you, prospecting is going to be akin to pushing a rope uphill.

So, how do you go about figuring out what your USP is?
For starters, it’s almost never “naturally occurring” because there’s nothing inherently unique about delivering managed services.
Unfortunately, MSPs are a dime a dozen, and the market is saturated with no shortage of companies who can and will deliver IT services and support. Whether they’re any good or not is a differentiator, but if you’re not specifically detailing to your prospects how you are different and why that benefits them, then you appear to be just like every other run-of-the-mill MSP and, therefore, lack a USP.

Keep this in mind: Nobody knows how good you are until after the sale; before they buy, they only know how good your marketing is.

Prospects are not experts at buying IT services, and it’s very difficult for your average business owner to determine the differences from one MSP to another. To them, most MSPs are selling relatively the same types of service packages at about the same price point, using the same vendors and tools and pulling from the same pool of talent.

What exacerbates the problem is that MSPs’ marketing is full of generalities and platitudes (our people make the difference, we’re proactive, our service is unparalleled) and grandiose claims that they don’t (can’t) back up, like “We’re the best IT firm in Nashville.” Therefore, a USP must be strategically designed and created. It also has to be designed with your chosen target market in mind, taking into consideration their specific needs, problems, budgets, and business systems.

If you think you have a USP, see if it can stand up to the following four criteria:
1. It must be unique to you
2. It must have meaningful specifics
3. It must have a strong appeal to your target market
4. It must be defensible before they buy

For many, this is a tough exercise, and one that requires considerable thinking time. The people who struggle with it the most are actually not the ones who don’t have anything unique about them. It’s the people who don’t truly and deeply understand their customers who have the most trouble with this.

So, if you’re stumped and unable to articulate what your USP is or should be, I would suggest you start by hanging out with and talking to your clients more. Invest a few hours in sitting next to their employees and watching them work.

Understand how they get paid and how they “manufacture” and deliver what they get paid for. Spend more time understanding the KPIs they pay attention to, the beliefs they have about their industry, their competition, and their employees.

Know how work and information flows through their organization and the vendors they work with. From there, the easiest way to start documenting a USP is to use a “reason why” advertising approach.

We get our clients to write out an “X Reasons Why <<Name-Of-MSP>> Is the Best IT Support Company for <<Niche>>.”

If they’re confident in their abilities, we encourage them to have at least one guarantee on the list. Furthermore, the list should be made up of answers to what irks their “avatar” client when doing business with an IT firm or what their top IT-related headaches are.
When done, you’ll have a solid answer to the “What’s the promise only you can make?” question that will subsequently get you in more doors with greater ease.

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