What are the main challenges faced by MSPs?
How would you overcome them?
· Educating clients and prospects on transitioning to the Cloud and the pros and cons, this works both ways, some clients may be very reluctant about the security “where is my data” whilst others are keen to migrate but connectivity may not be right in their region. We overcome these obstacles by continually updating each and every one of our clients roadmaps with them and making sure we are speaking plain English when discussing the Cloud.
· Security, helping clients to protect their businesses through education, Anti-Virus and Data Protection, there is no one size fits all and many people tend to believe anti-virus is enough. Each and every one of our clients has a bespoke agreement that relates to their business, whether they have 10 users or 200. We send out regular newsletters educating clients on the various attacks that they must be aware of and give them advice on how to educate their employees. We regularly blog and post across social media, educational articles such as this article on protecting your business from a ransomware attack. We are looking at transitioning the majority of our clients over to Datto with 150+ of our 400 clients already having a Datto box.
· Managing client expectation and retention, we continually have to re-prove the value we add to each of our clients. We have recently instated Service Delivery Managers in each of our 8 offices, Birmingham, Bristol, London, Manchester, Oxford, Peterborough, Swindon and Thames Valley, who manage the expectations of our clients and ensure we are always meeting the right standard. Each client also has a dedicated Account Manager who meets with them at least once a month. We continually look at the service we offer and refresh as soon as we feel it needs it. We run Client focus groups to gather input from our clients, both positive and negative, following these sessions we ensure we act on all feedback and improve our service where we can.
Is skills shortage something that you consider a challenge – why?
To attract the right individuals with the right skill sets MSPs must invest time in their people this includes in –house training, partner exams and external education. At CIT every team member has a monthly 121 to discuss their progress against objectives, help in achieving them and any training or career activity. Every six months we produce the CIT Academy Training prospectus which provides in-house training identified by team members throughout the business. We regularly work with our partners on training days, most recently working with our Data Protection partners Datto and Hosted Telephony partners Concert Networks to educate every one of our technical and sales team on the emerging trends and technologies that they should be talking to all clients about. Each Helpdesk and Technical Consultant is targeted against passing partner exams and given the time and support to pass these.
How can traditional software resellers transition from their current business models to selling more managed / cloud services?
You must get to know your client base and their needs, business size, strategy and values before positioning different services. Cloud services are not right for everyone but it is the direction the world is moving, so MSP’s must help to recommend and educate rather than ‘sell’, we are a consultative business and become a part of our clients businesses to help them meet their business goals, if this means recommending managed/ cloud services we will.
What is lacking in the current selling of services?
Many MSP’s still go down the ‘hard sell’ route, in this day and age, with the concern surrounding security and data loss you must be willing to adapt to your clients’ needs and help them to understand the current landscape without pushing products that may not be the right fit.
How can/have you overcome that/those obstacle(s)?
We do not ‘sell’ to our clients, we get to know them and their businesses and work with them in a consultative way to help them achieve their business goals.
Are there any managed / cloud services that you specifically recommend?
Our clients can’t afford downtime or data loss as a result of a disaster or cyberattack. When a disaster does strike, we need products that we can rely on to save our customer’s businesses. Datto provides fully integrated products that help us demonstrate value and build trust by protecting their data, so that when the worst happens, we can quickly recover business services.
Why those over others?
We have been working with Datto now for over 2 years, a Disaster recovery solution. We recommend Datto to the vast majority of our clients looking for an extra layer to protect their data. Education and anti-virus solutions are no longer enough and Datto have helped to restore many of our clients critical data, saving them from situations that could have been detrimental to their business if they had not had Datto.
What challenges do you foresee MSPs facing over the next 5 – 10 years?
The cloud means less and less IT is run from the office, break/fix will no longer be necessary with remote support so much more readily available and dependable.
How can MSPs mitigate those issues, before they arise?
We must continually adapt to mitigate the risk of becoming superfluous to our clients. Educating our clients on the changing world of technology, the cloud and the support and services available to them will be key. Ensuring we work closely with our partners and continuing to offer the consultative service that our clients want.