MSP CRM -
The definition

A managed service provider (MSP) manages customer IT infrastructure or end-user systems remotely, typically on a proactive basis, under a subscription model. Often, the terms "cloud service provider" and "managed service provider" are used as alternate terms when the provider's service is continued with a service level agreement (SLA) and is provided over the internet.
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What is CRM?

Customer relationship management (CRM) helps manage a company’s relationships and interactions with customers and prospects. The definitive goal of a CRM tool is to improve business relationships. A CRM system helps businesses stay connected to customers, streamline processes, and grow profitability.

A CRM tool helps with contact management, productivity, sales management, and more.
With the right CRM solution, an organization can focus on its relationships with individuals — customers, service users, colleagues, or vendors — including finding new customers, winning new businesses, and providing support and services all through the business cycle.

MSP CRM

For a managed service provider, a CRM system provides holistic support - from sales, customer service, recruitment, business development, and marketing – forging business relationships that drive success. CRM provides better visibility and easy data access, enabling better collaboration and productivity.

As a managed service provider accrues more clients and fosters new business relationships, a good CRM tool helps put together a wide range of information in places, such as phone numbers, addresses, and notes, allowing the entire staff of the MSP to be on the same page.

When MSPs start looking for a CRM tool, there are a number of factors to be considered. The CRM has to be a solution that can help grow the MSP business.

How can CRM tools help MSPs?

When put to right use, a CRM tool can benefit the MSP as a whole, particularly with support cases and sales ingenuities. This allows for unified messaging between two teams. For instance, if a support team member is on a call, they can vouch for a product or service that the sales team previously pitched to that customer—and vice versa. This helps the teams be more in sync.

A CRM tool makes growth efforts of MSPs more scalable. More importantly, it creates a single, easily manageable location with all data about current and potential customers, helping teams manage the business cycle more efficiently.

How can an MSP CRM boost the efficiency of Sales?

A few of the everyday activities in an MSP business are more directly critical to success and progress than the capability of the sales team to close deals and make revenue. However, building an effective sales module takes more than just disseminating pricing and earmarking leads. The following CRM strategies can help sales teams operate with utmost efficiency.

The right CRM

A good customer relations management tool – mainly one that is optimized for sales – helps sales team to stay dedicated and organized. A CRM provides sales teams with lead prioritization, reminders and specifics about the status of previous contacts. It also helps management teams track productivity metrics, like how quickly or frequently are leads contacted, follow-up and idle time.

Provide applicable mobile tools

It is important to ensure that sales representatives are equipped with all the tools and systems needed to be productive and efficient, irrespective of who they are. Sales teams must be able to remotely access the CRM, contracts and product information. Some organizations chose to adopt enterprise-grade communications apps, with ample security and privacy.

Decrease administrative tasks

Time spent by sales executives doing anything besides selling, is time spent not closing deals. In cases where sales executives have additional tasks other than selling, it helps to hire sales support employees. Sales teams can time and again end up as the principal contact for customers; sales support employees can handle processes related to non-sales inquiries and quickly direct them to the right departments.

Keep track of performance

Tracking the efforts and results of each sales team member regularly plays a crucial role in identifying processes that are not going well. This helps the company management address any weaknesses and constantly focus on areas that need improvement.

Effective client management, lead management and account management with MSP CRM

Often, many new managed services providers, unlike large corporations where many teams function, are largely on their own to find new clients, manage marketing, sales, and business operations.

How does CRM help manage all of these?

Most MSPs function locally and count on word-of-mouth to get new business. Hence it is very important to forge healthy relationships with prospects and existing customers. This means contacting them at regular intervals to keep a steady flow of referrals.

As a busy provider short of time and resources, an MSP has to find the right combination of marketing and sales tools that work in sync with the CRM tool. An ideal combination would include:

Segmentation, management, prospecting and nurturing tools for leads
Sales and marketing tools that include sales/marketing personalization engines, asset tracking systems and social media automation
The MSP CRM tool is the information bank for data about the company’s leads and existing customers. Therefore, it is imperative that any sales enablement tool that an MSP chooses allows for smooth flow of information to and from the CRM platform. Preferably, the MSP should have access to all contacts, lead data, sales and marketing assets, and lead prospecting programs from its CRM account. This makes the MSP CRM a single point of usage for sales across contacts, campaigns, collateral, playbooks and operations.

MSP CRM for better customer service

An MSP’s capacity to do efficient work rests on their technical expertise. Nevertheless, their ability to guarantee customer satisfaction is what truly grows the business. This is because top-class customer satisfaction retains current clients and helps win over future ones. Given this truth, MSPs need to be tactical about how they approach their work as each and every interaction is a chance to improve customer satisfaction.
Certain repetitive tasks can be automated, including prioritizing tickets, routine maintenance, upgrading software and disks, fixing patches, or end-virus remediation. With tools that automate these processes, MSP staff can spend more time on projects, organizing, or delivering proactive service to customers—keeping them happy.
To get the best benefits of business automation, MSPs need tools like remote monitoring and management systems, ticketing systems, customer relationship management tools (CRM), anti-virus solutions, remote access tools, malware detection solutions, critical alerting tools, and PBX systems—depending on the MSP’s specific business needs.
While keeping customers satisfied and happy sounds very straightforward, successful MSPs understand that customer satisfaction is the secret element that differentiates one MSP from another. Something as simple as clear communication with clients and introducing a few new tools to the MSP tool kit can make a huge difference in how clients perceive the provider. Setting clear expectations and reducing manual, repeatable tasks, helps develop positive relationships with new customers.

Key features to look for in a Managed Service Provider CRM

What works for one MSP might not work for a provider offering services in a different vertical. It helps to spend adequate time to research and try different options to find the best fit. Here are a few key features of the ideal MSP CRM:

Security

Security is one of the critical factors for certain MSP verticals. Some CRM tools allow MSPs to restrict access to features that are not required to a particular user’s role in the organization. For instance, Salesforce allows creating user profiles with access to some portions of the database, while restricting permission and the type of information that they can access.

Integrations

CRMs that integrate with other tools can help simplify daily operations when put to use the right way. For instance, a simple integration with financial information helps support teams know customers who have missed payments. This enables keeping all the information right there at the fingertips. MSP CRM integration options are basically endless; industry-specialized software that can integrate with a CRM, can be game-changing for a MSP.

Mobile Access

Mobile access allows users to quickly look up customer phone numbers or account information, and add notes on the move. Additionally, sales teams can easily check in and configure reminders when they’re out of office.

On-premise or in the cloud

MSPs can either use an on-premise CRM tool or one on the cloud. The CRM tool for an MSP depends on the resources the provider has, to put into it. On-premise solutions might offer more options for unique customization, but may also need more resources to maintain the system. Since the MSP’s core business is not about maintaining a CRM, the MSP has to determine what makes sense for their team. For a cloud CRM tool like Salesforce, external teams are assigned to manage integrations and the development of the tool.

Cost

Pricing considerations vary for every MSP. There are many tools available at different price and license levels. It is important to determine the one that fits the budget and needs.

Built-in reporting

A few CRM tools have built-in reporting, which can be a very favorable factor for the success of the business. For instance, if an MSP gathers data of when support calls are made, the provider can respond and adapt the MSP strategy accordingly. If there are more customers calling within the first year of service, the MSP can set aside additional time to onboard new customers. If more customer calls pour in only at a particular time, say afternoon, the MSP can schedule a lesser number of support technicians in the morning. Initiating certain changes like these not only increases customer satisfaction, but also helps cut down unnecessary costs.

Automating sales process with CRM

Sales automation is the systematization of manual and arduous sales tasks using software, artificial intelligence (AI), and other digital systems and tools. Automation aims to help businesses seamlessly manage the responsibilities that sales teams and managers pursue on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Sales process automation helps sales reps spend less time on administrative tasks and focus more on connecting with and selling to prospects and customers. It also ensures that the sales process is uniform and streamlined.

CRM tools are critical support systems for MSPs to easily organize, track and nurture leads. CRM helps automation of tasks such as logging prospect activity, sales outreach, contact data and information. It also feeds data into the other sales automation tools or software that sales reps and managers might use. Some of the benefits of sales automation are as follows:
Surges productivity and performance of sales teams
Turbocharges efficiency
Improves accuracy and accelerates the sales process
Ensures that sales leads are not lost
Streamlines the quality of MSP sales tasks
Reduces response time to increase customer satisfaction
Keeps sales data consistent across the organization

Future of CRM in MSP markets

Today, many MSPs have already started investing in professional services automation (PSA) platforms and CRM tools. These tools essentially drive the growth of MSPs. Labor costs are a challenge in any service business. PSA tools help automate and bring together key tasks, such as tracking time and handling tickets. The right marketing automation platforms have smooth integrations with the best and common CRM systems. Marketing automation tools and CRM tools together bring a holistic capability to the table - marketing tools handle the top of the funnel, while CRM tools take over when there is a greater need for individual sales action and involvement. The two together gives MSPs the right mixes of marketing and sales systems.

Compared to traditional MSP models, strategic technology partners can preserve their continuing contracts and recurrent revenue, but they need to be more hands-on in the way they tackle it. This can be accomplished by engaging more proactively with clients throughout the project lifecycle, than just focus too much on preventing tickets or handling them as and when they come up. This means that MSPs should use business tools that go beyond just tickets – the bigger winners in the MSP space will be the players who utilize a great CRM to manage new and existing client accounts proactively, and build strong project management foundation that ties with their recurring billing model.

Pipeline management in CRM

In most CRM systems, pipeline management is defined as the process of supervising and directing future sales in different phases or stages. Pipeline management helps CRM managers answer several important questions. Firstly, it empowers them to precisely predict forthcoming revenues. Secondly, it supports them in analyzing the sales process and recognizes fragile spots. Thirdly, it can notify sales managers about an imminent sales slump or sales growth. It also shows aggregate sales velocity - the average time taken to turn incoming leads into paying customers. Terms such as pipeline, sales pipeline, opportunity pipeline and deals pipeline are all interrelated.

Advanced CRM software allows MSPs to manage multiple pipelines. This is very significant to the success of the MSP business, because most CRM tools seldom offer this option. For instance, for a car dealership business that makes money by selling cars, spare parts and providing repairs, common CRM tools allow  the configuration of only one pipeline (say new car sales or repairs). This means that the business would be unable to accurately track and analyze multiple lines of business and profit. It is important for MSPs to keep these in mind when choosing a CRM tool for pipeline management

Pipeline management is particularly important to keep a sales pipeline healthy; it becomes all the more important whenever new leads are added to the pipeline.

Managing a single lead in every step of the sales pipeline is rather straightforward. The MSP is aware of the goals and requirements, and they only have to keep track of where that single lead is within the pipeline.

Adding second, third and many more leads to the pipeline makes the process more complicated as the MSP has track of each and every individual – it is not just about tracking where they are in the pipeline, but also understanding their needs, and taking the necessary steps to take ahead in the pipeline. When an MSP has a hundred or more people in their sales pipeline, management becomes even harder.

This is where MSP CRM steps in – the CRM not only helps record customer or sales information, but also helps sales teams take necessary action. Managing multiple leads can sometimes become a process as delicate as juggling eggs. In such cases, it is only wise for MSPs to put to use the right CRM for effective pipeline management.

FAQs

What is MSP CRM?

Customer relationship management (CRM) helps manage an MSP’s relationships and interactions with customers and prospects. The definitive goal of MSP CRM is to help improve business relationships, stay connected to customers, streamline processes, and grow profitability.

MSP CRM helps with contact management, productivity, sales management, and more. With the right CRM solution, MSPs can focus on its relationships with individuals — customers, service users, colleagues, or vendors — including finding new customers, winning new business, and providing support and services all through the business cycle.

What are the benefits of MSP CRM?

MSP CRM makes growth efforts of MSPs more scalable. More importantly, it creates a single, easily manageable location with all data about current and potential customers, helping teams manage the business cycle more efficiently.  MSP CRM acts as a single point of usage for MSP sales across contacts, campaigns, collateral, playbooks and operations.

What is automation in CRM?

Sales automation is the systematization of manual and arduous sales tasks using software, artificial intelligence (AI), and other digital systems and tools. Sales process automation in CRM helps sales reps spend less time on administrative tasks and focus more on connecting with and selling to prospects and customers. It also ensures that the sales process is uniform and streamlined.