Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Managed Services in a Month - Part Six

[ KP Note: The entire "Managed Services in a Month" series has been collected, collated, and indexed. Still free. You may access it now at ]

Note: This is a continuation of Topic Seven: Client Sit-Downs

We talked last time about
  • Gathering your data.
  • Preparing your binders.
  • Making the Appointment.
  • Gathering all the "relationship" information you need before your appointment.

Now you are ready to go. Absolutely itching to get out the door and have a sit-down. So today we're going to discuss:
  • The actual meeting.
  • Setup Fees
  • Prepayments


The Meeting
[Play dramatic music.]

Okay. You're ready. You have your awesome three-tiered plan. You have a newly-minted Managed Service Agreement. You have client financial data. You know about requirements to signing, customer service issues, and technical status.

Your head is filled with practice speeches. Stop it.

You know these people. You've worked with them. You have a good relationship.

This ain't nothin' but a thing.

And what's going on in the client's head? Think about it. Their assumption is that you're about to drop an important announcement on them. You're quitting business. You're raising your rates. You're dropping them as a client.

Whatever the case, they are curious. Especially since you insisted on a face-to-face meeting and set a time, etc. It's a bit more formal than your regular relationship.

So the good news is: Clients know you're meeting to raise rates. They are prepared for that. Don't be afraid of that. It's an unspoken agreement before you show up.

Walk in. Show up early. Get comfortable. Say hello. Exchange some pleasantries. So what can I do for you today?

And here's your pitch.

"We're moving to a new system. Our company is investing in products that allow us to provide a much higher level of support at a great price."

"We're moving to a system with three different options, depending on what your needs are."

"I'll start with the Silver Plan because it covers the fewest things. Everything else builds from that."

Discuss Silver. Move up to Gold. And for just a bit more, move up to Platinum.

"We think Platinum is your best bet because it gives you total coverage. We'll be managing everything."

"Over the last year, you spent about . . .. That's right in line with (plan) . . .."

Shut up.

Insert silence

Don't talk.

Don't fear the silence.

Answer all their questions. (Take notes for your next meeting. You might even compile an FAQ.)

Ask for the Sale

Don't leave it hanging.

"I'd like to sign you up for (Platinum). We can get started today."

Setup Fees

There are setup fees. Here's the lowdown:

You should charge a setup fee. There's value to what you're doing. And if you are paying for Kaseya, ConnectWise, Level Platforms, Autotask, Exchange Defender, Zenith, etc. you have overhead. It costs money to do what you're doing to do.

Even if you haven't bought the tools yet (future topic), you'll have the expense of setting up SBS or Server monitoring by other means.

At the same time, the setup fee can be flexible. Some people won't make a deal until you give back something. Anything. A free pen. A shiny penny. The money is irrelevant. They pride themselves on always getting a deal. They ask for a little something off when they go to the grocery store. They can't help themselves.

For argument's sake, I'll assume your setup fee is 50% of the monthly fee. Could be 100%.

You can waive this for any reason that pops into your head. Or you can round it down. Or use it to provide complete services until the end of the current month.

If it's early in the month, or mid-month, and it's an average client, by all means collect that setup fee.

If a client has been a pain in the neck, refused to sign, then changed their mind: Full setup fee, no questions asked.

If they sign on the third day of the month, ding the MSA for a full month and waive the setup fee.

You get the picture. Just one more variable.

One More Thing

There's just one more thing to tell the client: In the new system, all of these plans are pre-paid. So we can put this on a credit card each month, or you can prepay for three months in advance by check. The choice is yours.

Don't argue with me on this. See earlier discussions of cash flow. Also see the cable bill, phone bill, copy machine bill, rent, electrical, insurance, alarm company, etc. We live in a world where that's how it's done. You're just catching up with the 21st Century. Welcome aboard.


Finish the Meeting

Okay. So at the end of the meeting you should have a signed agreement. Sign two copies, one for each of you. Calculate the setup fees and monthly fees.

Don't forget the credit card authorization if they're paying by credit card.

If they're paying by check you'll collect a check for three months.

Thank them profusely. Assure the client that they will be very happy and that you're going to take care of them better than they ever imagined. Because that's true.

IF, for whatever reason, you leave without a signed agreement, set a date certain when you will find out what they plan to do. Make it soon -- no more than two weeks.

They have to make a decision. If you find yourself calling and writing and not getting a response, then you'll have to write a goodbye letter. Be professional and respectful. Invite them back when they decide they need professional technical assitance.

"No Decision" is not an option.
Next time we'll talk about all the paperwork you have to do after the sale.

For now, enjoy your victories!


  1. Anonymous2:35 PM

    Do you find accepting credit cards increases retention as well?

  2. Good question. I don't know.

    We've found that a lot of people like the credit card because they have a mileage program or program or whatever.

    When they put $3,000 / mo on the visa, they get some serious frequent flyer miles.

    At the end of the day, retention is related to doing a great job.


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