I went to do a little research on the game theory of tic-tac-toe (or noughts and crosses, or x and 0) when I was thinking about writing this blog post.  It turns out that even something as simple as tic-tac-toe can have a very complex overview.  Check out the Wikipedia article on tic-tac-toe here.

You don’t need complex game theory to figure out what most five-year-old children already know:  you need to go first if you’re going to win.

See where I’m going with this?

There are usually a few players in any managed services win.  There is the company that presented the idea in the first place (X), and the companies contacted afterwards (O) so that the prospective client can do their due diligence, verify your pricing is fair, and see “what else is out there”.

So how does this apply to selling managed services?

As X, you’re going to need to clearly educate your prospect on what managed services are,  carefully explain the investment they are making, and then be prepared to play defense while they go back to the market and shop around for a bit.

As O, make the right move and you can stay in the game for a bit, play very carefully and you might win, but make the wrong opener and there is absolutely no way you’ll win the game.

Cold calling gives you the opportunity to be X – the first company to suggest a solution to a problem they are having.  The one that will be seen as the authority on the matter and the trusted advisor.  When done correctly, cold calling gives you the X advantage.

O gets a few “gimme’s”.  One, they know what you’re charging.  Two, they know exactly what you’re pitching.

  • They might scoop you on price.  Do you want clients that buy on price? This is a great litmus test, let them go shop around! Quote to know you provide 100% of what you are promising, not to “win” business!
  • They might offer a better SLA.  Can they?  If they CAN, explore why.   If they CAN’T, they will lose this business and this company will come back to you  a bigger believer than ever that you were the right choice to begin with.

And here is the worst case scenario:

  • They might be a better and smarter service provider.  That’s something that will trip you up forever if you don’t figure out how to catch up.  (Call MSP coach and consultant Stuart Selbst, he’ll sort you out.)

Being X doesn’t mean you need to be the first  company to ever suggest outsourcing their IT.  It doesn’t even mean that they aren’t currently engaged with another MSP!  It means you have pointed out a problem they didn’t know they had, or perhaps you’ve shown up exactly when they’ve noticed they have a problem, but before they have started looking for ways to solve it.

Some questions that will help you be X:

How many of your staff work on their own personal laptops?  (let’s talk about BYOD planning, security, virtualization)

How often do you require your employees to change passwords? (let’s talk about security)

What is your company policy regarding working from home? (let’s talk about threats, shared use devices and risk, virtualization, VPN, VoIP….)

Who created your emergency preparedness plan? (let’s talk about disaster recovery, backup, cloud)

Has anyone ever left their laptop in the airport? (let’s talk about security)

Have you ever dropped a book in the bathtub?  (let’s talk about tablets that get ruined by stupid things, cloud, backup, data recovery)

Try a few of these “x factor” questions the next time you’re prospecting.  Better yet, hire us to do your prospecting for you!  Call me at 204-995-4589 to learn more!

Happy Selling!