ConnectWise: MSPs Need More Focus, Discipline For Success12:40 PM EST Mon. Nov. 12, 2012
For last several years, ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini has insisted that he's not running a software company, despite all evidence to the contrary.
After all, ConnectWise is the professional services automation platform of choice for thousands of managed service providers all around the world. Then there's the other companies in which the Tampa, Fla.-based company's sibling, ConnectWise Capital, has made healthy investments. There's Quosal, the Bothell, Wash.-based quoting software tool, and LabTech Software, an RMM application vendor that even competes with some of ConnectWise's closest partners.
But, Bellini doesn't want to hear it.
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"We're not a software company! We're in the business of success," Bellini exclaims during an interview with CRN at ConnectWise's IT Nation conference in Orlando last week, an event that regularly draws more than 1,500 Arnieheads.
At first glance, the statement might sound like just another slogan dreamed up by ConnectWise's crack marketing team. But, when Bellini began to detail the messaging in the keynote address he intended to deliver the next morning in front of the IT Nation crowd, another message began to emerge: too many MSPs aren't getting the message.
"I don't want to sell you the software unless you are committed to success. Otherwise you're just wasting both our times," Bellini said.
At IT Nation, Bellini laid out a Pyramid of Success for partners to follow, a pyramid he later compares to a similar one laid out decades before by UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.
And in the ConnectWise version, software is near the bottom.
"This [pyramid] is my way of challenging them, of saying let's get serious about success," Bellini said.
To drive home that point, ConnectWise has created a "success matrix," gleaned on analyzing data collected from its partners over the last two years. The matrix can help show MSPs where they're succeeding, and where they're failing, Bellini said.
"We understand through our research what creates a successful company and how they got there. We can show anyone now where they don't match up with a successful path. We've rolled that out throughout our consulting organization and we will be handing them that methodology so that they can implement those best practices on their own," Bellini said.
It includes data that could be a wake-up call for many solution providers and it's something that ConnectWise plans to leverage to give some partners a much-needed kick in the seat, Bellini said.
"It's like you could order a Bowflex, but unless you show up every day and use the equipment in the way it's prescribed and get on a consistent, disciplined approach, you won't achieve the results you want to achieve. It's the same thing in business," Bellini said. "I can give you the Bowflex, [in our] software, but I can't make you use it properly, implement it properly or use the best practices embedded in the software," he said.
NEXT: Education, Community Builds Success
For ConnectWise, using that Bowflex also includes leveraging ConnectWise's training and education program, which includes more than 10,000 third-party vendor courses available for a $495 annual prescription per employee, ConnectWise's Bellini said.
"We've got to get them to be good systems engineers. If I have a system engineer that wants to become certified in Cisco, Novell, Microsoft, all the major vendors, $495 and they're off to the races," he said. "Why do we do that? It makes a healthier business. It goes way beyond software."
But, perhaps the biggest focus for ConnectWise to drive more success in its partners is likely its community of users, which Bellini puts at the top of his Pyramid of Success. This year, ConnectWise is likely to spend $7 million on its community programs, a figure that includes 30 regional events across the globe in addition to the IT Nation conference.
"Nobody has all the answers, but collectively we can understand any problem and come up with an answer for anything. That's why you see us invest so much in the community. It's an expensive proposition for us, but we get the community to interact with each other, and they tell you that's the greatest value they get. That drives them up the pyramid. If I can get you to educate yourself and interact with your community, I can drive you up to success," Bellini said.
Harkening back to Wooden's Pyramid of Success at UCLA, Bellini noted that the coach would begin the first practice each season by having his players undo their shoes and socks and have them redo it together. In some respects, it's a lesson some solution providers should heed.
"You have to build from the ground up. You do the simple things and you do them well. If you don't get your sock on right or your lace is not tightened, it could cost you a point or two in the game or God forbid you trip," Bellini said. "[Wooden's] philosophy is building on pieces, and he had a fanatic discipline of accomplishing certain goals every day.
"Most software companies don't think they have to have that. And they have no right selling you software unless they're willing to get you the whole way through," Bellini continued. "We're not really asking you to buy something. We're asking you to buy into something. A vision. Software is a necessary piece to it, but it's not the only piece. It's very expensive to do it that way, but in the end you get a much better result."
PUBLISHED NOV. 12, 2012