IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Assessments: More Than a Foot in the Door: Page 2 of 3

Savvy MSPs use assessments as a consultancy tool rather than as a sales tool, and charge for them. By Jennifer Oladipo
Reader ROI: 
SAVVY MSPS use assessments as a consultancy tool rather than as a sales tool, and charge for them.
SECURITY AND COMPLIANCE concerns are making it easier to sell assessments as an ongoing service.
ASSESSMENTS are part art, part science and should include people at all levels of an organization across all departments.
AVOID TECHNICAL JARGON and explain the value of assessments in business terms to higher-level decision makers.

“Honestly, that’s where it starts: employee experience,” says Melby. “How adept are they at using the systems? Do the systems properly support what they’re doing? If they can’t use the software, they’ll find [systems] they can [use] or do things that have security impacts like email [documents to] themselves rather than using Microsoft SharePoint so they can work over the weekend.”

Don’t forget, assessments also guide the MSP on what to charge a new client. “If you just go in and quote a client without doing an assessment and then go in and find [many problems], then you’re eroding your profit margin,” says Simpson.

Talk Business, not Tech

There are two ways channel pros miss the mark on talking about assessments: how they speak, and whom they speak with.

Erick Simpson

A conversational tone is always preferable to technical jargon, says Simpson. “You’ve got to use human terms, and the most important focus should be to create the sense of urgency and put it into business terms for the decision maker. … If you’re using scientific, antiseptic, generic technical terms, you’ll never get that sense of connection that you need,” he says.

The same is true for reporting. While an assessment should be highly detailed, the resulting report should not.

“The patience for consuming that is almost none,” says Melby. Even worse, information overload tends to inhibit people from taking action and reaping the value of the assessment. That’s why Melby offers no more than five action items, distilled within three pages or less, in his reports.

IT providers also underestimate how business-focused the assessment process should be. Channel pros who tie assessments to competitive goals and opportunities are much less expendable than less insightful peers. “I think MSPs are losing clients right now because of a lack of understanding of what’s going on deeply with their clients,” says Melby, who learned this lesson the hard way after doing a “beautiful” assessment for a large company. It revealed all the conventional technology and cultural challenges, he recalls. 

“But they fired us because we missed the fact that they had one critical business mission that they had to get to in the next 45 days, and we didn’t ask about it,” says Melby. Not involving company leaders who had those insights in the assessment process was partly to blame for that costly blunder.

“We’ve learned that you don’t come in at a low level and work your way up to the high level,” he says. If a contact balks at the thought of getting an expensive assessment approved higher up, Melby continues, use that as an opportunity to explain how you will support that person in championing the project in a way a businessperson will appreciate. 

About the Author

Jennifer Oladipo's picture

JENNIFER OLADIPO is an award-winning business journalist. She’s written for national and international publications focused on science and technology sectors and has held communications positions in multiple organizations, including a Fortune 200 technology company.

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