New training that's paired a technology financer with an SMB channel training provider is set to help MSPs brush up on sales skills amid a changing IT solutions landscape.
GreatAmerica Financial Services Corp., of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is working for the first time with Bakersfield, Calif.-based CharTec, a provider of sales, marketing and operations training aimed at SMB-managed solution providers.
The two-day training, scheduled for Sept. 16-17 at GreatAmerica's Cedar Rapids headquarters, is focused on sales training for solution providers and includes tips on strategy, marketing and pricing services in a single bundle, charged monthly. It will be taught by CharTec CEO Alex Rogers.
"When you look at how MSP companies are birthed, these are run by highly technical people who love the bits and the bytes. They struggle with sales and struggle as managers," Greg VanDeWalker, GreatAmerica and IT Group senior vice president and general manager, told CRN. "The nature of the typical owner, they lack that skill, and many of these folks will admit that."
GreatAmerica provides financing for commercial equipment or technology and works with telecom providers, MSPs and VARs.
Improving on sales is the reason Indianapolis-based Spectrum Technology is sending one of its workers to the upcoming training, according to President Tony Schafer.
"Our company is over 20 years old and much has changed in the sales of IT solutions," Schafer told CRN. "MSPs are now in a commodity environment, and we must update our sales approach and value proposition to continue providing value to our clients. Consultative sales approaches and appropriate bundling and finance are critical to that effort. No longer are we selling hardware, software or even services."
GreatAmerica decided to partner with CharTec because of the credibility the organization brings to the table, VanDeWalker said.
"One thing that [Alex's] training does extremely well, is he's teaching solution providers to go out and find problems and solve it with a monthly payment," VanDeWalker said. "That model is our model. It's exactly ours, but we're not hardware-as-a-service. It's hardware-as-a-rental."
The training also makes sense as vendors shy away from those offerings for partners, he said.
"Back in the ... 80s and 90s, a lot of the manufacturers, they did a lot of good sales training," he said. "Now it's all a lot of product training. There's a missing element of good sales skills."
Being in tune with clients' businesses or changing relationships within the industry has helped GreatAmerica build its client base, VanDeWalker said.
GreatAmerica is currently working on building an integrated solution with QuoteWerks software that will help with monthly payment quotes on hardware, and one with ConnectWise that will help bundle charges all on one invoice for customers. Both should be available in October.
The cloud also continues to be an ongoing conversation for GreatAmerica just as it is among channel partners. As some of the companies GreatAmerica works with turn to the cloud or a hybrid option, it has reduced the amount of hardware clients need to finance through GreatAmerica.
Still, GreatAmerica's being tactical in its response to that shift, VanDeWalker said.
"From our perspective, we don't care if you do on-premise or in the cloud, or hybrid, at the end of the day, hardware has to be financed. ... We're taking a very proactive approach," he said. "I don't care if a $40,000 lease for us today is only $10,000. We try to embrace that and try to help layer in other services and other products."
PUBLISHED AUG. 15, 2014