Ensure Your MSP Business Avoids Common vCIO Mistakes

MSP businessProviding vCIO Services

When your MSP business employs a virtual Chief Information Officer, it can often provide clients with the same kind of services a physical CIO can, but at a reduced expense. Even when the vCIO can’t provide the same kind of service provision, it still saves clients money, so the gap is filled and even overcompensated. Increased resources lead to more efficient operations.

However, there are a number of common mistakes MSPs tend to make when they implement vCIO solutions. These include:

  • Failing to utilize consultative sales
  • Missing opportunities to sell products with stories
  • Refraining from using the numbers
  • Failing to employ automation and collaboration in vCIO provision
  • Providing service that’s more concerned with IT rather than business

Consultative Sales

Your MSP business is acting as a consultant while simultaneously selling vCIO with this approach. You’re asking questions. Your goal isn’t to sell specific services with this approach. Instead, you want to show clients where they’ve missed opportunities. Services of the vCIO variety aren’t static. They’re flexible and conform to particular clients. Additionally, vCIO solutions rely on an MSP, rather than an individual, meaning that they have the potential to be more comprehensive and optimal, depending on client needs. You’ll want to point this out and help clients see how such a solution could ultimately serve them better.


You want to sell with two kinds of stories. The first kind involves potential. You want to show how a vCIO could cumulatively and positively expand the effectiveness of client operations. The second kind involves successful cases of vCIO implementation. You want to show the advantages existing clients have experienced through your vCIO provision.


Show the data. A CIO will cost about $180,000 annually for a business with around 200 people–at least in the metropolitan area of Washington DC. You can’t just divide that down based on employees, though. Do you think it’s feasible for a CIO to be paid $18k a year just because the company he or she works for only has 20 employees? They’re probably still going to draw at least $30k to $50k a year or more. Services of the vCIO variety are just going to be more cost-effective.

Give clients numbers that demonstrate this. Show your costs as opposed to those of a physical CIO, and let clients draw conclusions. For example, if you’re selling to a 200-person company and your services only cost $50k a year for such a client, then they could save $130k annually. Keep in mind that most vCIO services are geared toward less extensive organizations. However, sometimes a hybrid option allows the vCIO to cover routine maintenance tasks while the CIO concentrates on optimizing core operations, which additionally produce savings. There are a lot of ways to spin this, but give your clients the numbers to understand.

Automation and Collaboration

VCIO services often provide automated services to clients–these services are often “routine.” Collaboration is also an important aspect of operations. You want to design an approach that’s integrated into your vCIO provision. An integrated platform saves vCIO time, providing more efficient services for clients.

IT and Business

Ask questions about your clients’ cash flow. You’ll want to know their marketing plans and how their sales are performing. Use this information to determine the design of your vCIO services. The word to take away here is prioritization. You need to find where your clients’ priorities are and help them meet those priorities directly.

Once you’ve taken care of priorities, it’s time to look into IT applications. You have the opportunity to propose many interesting, effective IT projects to clients. If you do this ahead of prioritizing their operational needs in a business sense, though, your vCIO will appear to underperform, even if it does a great job finishing those projects. Look at it this way: eat your business vegetables, then you get the dessert of cool projects.

Effective vCIO Provision

Provided your MSP business prioritizes, uses automation and collaboration techniques, provides consultative sales, tells engaging stories and uses numbers to advise clients, you’ll likely see an increase in sales for your vCIO services.

Mike Pearlstein

Mike Pearlstein is the founder, President, and Chief Technology Officer of this solid and growing managed IT Services firm located in downtown Toronto. He received his Masters in Computer Science and Undergraduate degree from the University of Guelph in Ontario and is also a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate), a MCITP (MS Certified IT Professional) Mike founded Fusion Computing Limited in 2008 an IT support firm located in Toronto. He and his IT services team in Toronto specialize in getting it right the first time for every single client. He is constantly striving to make Fusion Computing the best Managed IT Services firm in Toronto and is never satisfied with the status quo.