The first step is to have a business planning process.
"Business planning discipline is the greatest indication of business success. ... If there's one thing you can do today that will ensure your success, it's business planning," TruMethods' Pica said.
Developing that discipline has to start by having a vision, and to do that MSPs need to stop focusing all day on details such as taking care of emails or watching employee hours, Pica said.
He said developing that vision helps start the business planning process, which in turn provides a framework for making decisions, allows hiring to be based on facts and not feelings, and aligns short -term actions with long-term goals.
Pica also said to avoid the typical excuses that interfere with the business planning process such as, "I'm already working as hard as I can," "I'm buried in work," "I don't have the time or resources" or "I'm too small to have a business plan."
"These are actually all reasons you need to have a business plan," he said.
As for waiting to "clear the decks" before developing the business plan, Pica said to forget about that. "Clear the decks?" he said. "It's never happened in 20 years."
The second step, Pica said, is to know what you sell.
"I love this one," he said. "It seems so obvious, but most MSPs don't know what they sell."
Every company needs three things for technology, including the physical or virtual infrastructure, support, and a strategic direction, Pica said.
These three things are also what customers want, he said. "Our clients want the same things we do: Make more revenue with lower costs."
Rather than the latest hardware and software, what customers really want are to be more productive, increase morale, increase functionality, decrease risk, increase security, and gain peace of mind, Pica said.
"This is what you should sell," he said.
To do so requires focusing on the end results, Pica said. For instance, he cited the first time he talked to a customer about email monitoring tools. However, he later realized, the customer did not need monitoring, because if they didn't get their email, they knew their Exchange server was down.
"I realized monitoring is not for our customer," he said. "It's for us."
Pica also said it is important to give customers limited choices and options while carefully defining the "edges" of the service. That includes being clear about what is and is not included with services, because when a customer calls for help, he or she, along with the person taking the call, probably did not read the service contract, he said.
NEXT: Be 'Sales-Focused,' Not 'Sales-Interested'