Ever wondered what it takes to create a long-term, successful partnership with your customers? The answer to this very important question points toward many rhetorical questions including, “Do you sell to the customers just to reach your short-term targets?” Are you in the business only with a survival mindset or a long-term growth mindset?” and “How invested you are in forming a brand that your customers love and trust?”

I have seen many MSPs inevitably fail because they say yes to every customer. What many of them fail to realize is that growth in the channel is not just about acquiring more customers in a spree anymore; it’s about partnering with the right ones that align with your MSP’s values and work culture. Doing the business with the right set of people, including customers and vendors, is a must for long-term sustainability and to score high on all customer success metrics, including CSAT and average customer lifetime value.

To discuss rules for partnering with the right customer (and saying no to the wrong one!), I invited Joe Ruskey from Dependable Solutions to join me for an interesting podcast. We also discussed ways to filter out the ones that don’t align with the same business goals.

Profile/re-profile your customers 

Understanding your ideal customer comes first before you set out for a hunt. The inability to understand who your ideal customer is will steer you off the path to success. Not considering whether or not a lead is a right lead for you will mean working for everyone and anyone. Your time would be better spent concentrating on finding the customers that truly add value and profit to your business.

By defining customer personas, you can set the right criteria for your customer base. This must include their net worth, their IT tool stack, and their reputation in the channel. To identify the primary customers among your customers group, look at three parameters of perspective (the culture and mission), capabilities, and profit potential.

Learn from your best customers 

Not all customers are good customers! Some are more trouble than they are worth and you will frequently run into challenges with them That’s why the first stage of an effective customer management strategy is often to choose the right customers – the people and vendors that fit with your business philosophy.

A great tip here would be to talk to your existing “best” customers that share your core values and vision and find out why they chose you. Why are your best customers buying from you? How did they hear about you? Maybe you can find more of them by simply understanding and repeating the process that led you to what you individually define as “right customers.”

Set behavioral expectations  

When potential clients have absurd expectations, reiterate what they can and can’t expect from working with you. There will be times when you will have to use your best judgment to provide support around expectations that aren’t mentioned in the SLAs. To address this, make a list of “could dos,” and be frugal about what you allow on your “should do” list. Start by funneling each of your “could dos”, vetting it against the ideal customer profile.

Let counterproductive ones go 

Have you ever heard a customer saying, “It’s not me, it’s you”? Sometimes, customers put the blame unfairly on their agencies. When a customer violates work ethics like this, it’s essential that you address their actions by stating that you cannot continue the relationship without mutual respect.

Just because someone can pay you to do your services doesn’t mean they should be a customer. Sometimes hard calls need to be made. So, quickly check if a customer no longer aligns with your future vision. Resist holding on to what is holding you back. It is a false economy to look at cost of losing a customer without considering the gains made by freeing up your engineers’ energy on customers that matter to your growth and people policies.

Final Thought: In the MSP business landscape, where customer-centricity and customer success are becoming differentiating competitive advantages, it is important that your MSP learns what an ideal customer looks like and builds strategies around retaining such customers.