Thursday, February 07, 2008

Desktops and Managed Service Revisited

In this post we talked about the objections to signing up for desktop support.

So last time we talked about the killer objection.

Just for background, let's look at why desktops are different from the rest of the environment.


When we had a "cafeteria plan" of flat fee services, the pattern was very clear. Clients want server maintenance.

Server maintenance is clearly important. It's a server, so they can't do it themselves. It's got active directory (which no one can possibly understand) and it's the brain center of the known universe. So that's worth $350/month.

And the network is important. Networks include routers and switches and printers (oh my!). They involve dealing with ISPs and VPNs and VOIPs. There are 802.11's and RJ45's involved. ISO has seven layers, like a cake from the Claim Jumper.

In other words, no one understands a network, so you have to be a genius to support it. That's worth $350/month.


But no one wants to support the desktop.

No one thinks desktops are worth paying a flat fee for. There are two primary reasons for this.

1) Clients actually believe they understand their desktop.
After all, they live with it every day. When you're not around, they figure things out and make it work. They talk to other tech support people (Apple, Dell, Sprint, Adobe, Microsoft) in the middle of the night. They "learn stuff" from someone other than you.

They realize that pimple-faced teenagers and people who don't speaking English very much good can figure out how to make a computer work. They might do it "wrong," but it works.

In other words, anyone out there with a mouse can figure out this stuff. So they don't need you.

They don't think about the fact that the 47 people they employ don't have any interest in figuring out any of this stuff. They've been hired to do data entry, manage prospects, do sales, process words, print files, spell check, etc.

These people think the "hard drive" is 30 inches tall and sits under their desk. They call you when the power is out to ask why the computers don't work.

These people do their job very well, but they don't give a rat's rear end about computers. To them, a computer guru is any genius who can replace a toner cartridge on the esoteric HP line of printers.

2) Clients don't have any idea how complicated they make their own desktops.

My favorite pain-in-the-butt client was a law firm filled with prima donnas. Six line of business applications. Each must be at exactly the right patch level because otherwise they wouldn't work together. Every update must be done simultaneously on fifteen machines. Every desktop must be identical after the update to what it looked like before.

It literally took five hours of labor to do a new PC install.

But the guy signing the checks says, "I don't understand. You take it out of the box. You connect it to the network. And it works. Why are we being charged for five hours?"

I'm sorry. What you want takes five hours. Period. End of story. Should I work this for FREE because you understand the technology? [Answer: no]

I can write a pretty good service agreement. But the lawyer wants to charge to check it over. So I pay. Why? Because I didn't graduate from law school. I know the limits of what I know.

I know what I don't know.


The bottom line is: The desktop is the most important connection between the human being worker and the network. The client understands the value of the network, but they don't get the value of the desktop.

We live in a world of confusing facts.

As I mentioned last time, telling the client that they don't understand is not a good sales strategy.


So where are you? Let's recap.

You have a client who thinks they're getting what they need because they're happy enough.

You've been given the Killer Objection (we're getting what we need) and you've provided a series of differentiating responses to make it clear that managing the desktops is very different from doing break/fix work.

At this point, one of two things can happen.

1) The client signs a Managed Service Agreement

2) The client stands firm and says they really don't care about the desktops.

You only have one trick left: Price your MSA offering like Cable TV.

In the U.S. we have a stupid cable TV pricing system. Cable companies have to make available a "basic" cable offering that is so horrible that no one will ever buy it no matter what. Then, in order to add any watchable channels like HBO, you have to add "advanced cable."

The result? In a country of 350 million people, there are now approximately seven people subscribing to Cable Basic. And almost no one is subscibing to Advanced Cable by itself. People only subscribe to advanced cable so they can get HBO, the NBA package, the World Cup Package, etc.

Basic. Advanced. Package.
Silver. Gold. Platinum.


The real, long-term answer is to work on a package that makes sense to clients. Eventually, you'll save them from some disaster and the value of preventive maintenance will be clear. In the meantime, you need to make sure you provide visible value.

You also need to be personally convinced -- and passionate -- about the value of desktop support. If you're stammering and apologetic, the client will pick up on that.

Differentiate the product. Only speak in terms of the unique benefits of desktop managed service.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. We sell the heck out of desktop support using three different service plans. I like to position it as a benefit to your employees..."they are frustrated that they can't get better help to do their jobs more effectively".

    Mike Cooch


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