So 99 times out of 100, when you win a new client, you're taking them from another MSP. Let's call them the incumbent.
I'll get into the reasons why people leave MSPs in a future article (clue - they're nearly always emotional reasons, rather than logical reasons. Just as people buy people rather than businesses, they leave people too).
You already know that when you are talking to a prospect, the last thing you want to do is criticise a competitor. That's just a way to look small minded and petty.
But here's how you can get the prospect to criticise them for you, and gain some valuable selling information in the process.
You just ask one simple question, with a follow-up question.
Ask this question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank your current IT support company?
Actually, the full question is: On a scale of 1 to 10 – where 1 is awful, and 10 is amazing - how would you rank them?
This is based on the same psychological principles behind Net Promoter Score. You can learn a lot from the score they give.
If the incumbent scores 8 to 10 - park it: This means your prospect is actually quite happy with their incumbent. They're either on a fishing trip, or are preparing quotes to keep the board happy.
If the incumbent scores 5 to 7 - the opportunity is soon: This seems like a high score, but it's not. It's revealing a level of dissatisfaction.
If the incumbent scores 1 to 4 - the opportunity is NOW: This is a deeply dissatisfied prospect. And they are ready to move to someone better. Give them all of your love and attention.
Here's the follow-up question: Can I ask specifically why you gave that score
This is the market research question. You ask it, then switch off your mouth, open your ears and soak in the info.
If your prospect has given the incumbent a low score, they are about to tell you how to win their business.
"Well... they do a good job... but... it just seems to take ages to get hold of someone on the phone."
That's the pain the prospect is feeling. So when you're telling them about your business down the line, that's one of the areas you focus on.
"Because we have more helpdesk staff, we answer the phones within 3 rings on average".
Simple. But clever. And it works really well. Because good sales and marketing is not about you trying to persuade them. It's about influencing the way they persuade themselves.