New Orchard CEO To MSPs: Grab—And Keep—That Seat At The Leadership Table

‘If we don’t keep a seat at the leadership table, we run the risk of commoditizing our relationship and commoditizing our service. And there’s a chance of losing that messaging,’ says Rusty Goodsell, CEO of software vendor New Orchard.


Business consultants are tasked with three things: diagnosing the challenge as quickly as possible, figuring out the next best step and executing on that strategy.

And all MSPs are consultants, according to Rusty Goodsell, CEO of Brentwood, Tenn.-based software vendor New Orchard. Goodsell spoke to MSPs about taking a consultative approach, driving organizational improvement and delivering value at the XChange August 2023 conference, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company in Nashville, Tenn., this week.

“If you’re in the MSP space and you’re being paid by somebody and you’re providing these services, you are in a consultative space,” he said. “They are counting on you, they’re counting on your experience. The problem is you’re just not charging for it.”

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As a strategic adviser, it’s crucial to know what customers are facing and how their mindset has changed.

[Related: Pax8’s Rob Rae: ‘The MSP Is Still Going To Be The Center Of Everything’]

“If you are calling yourself a strategic adviser or a partner or a consultant, you need to know how they’re thinking about it and what they’re facing,” he said.

To start, he said strategic road maps have shortened dramatically so consultants should broaden their scope of insight and the value that they’re bringing to their customers.

Goodsell shared with MSPs that he as an aortic aneurysm in his heart, which is a balloon-like bulge in the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart through the chest and torso, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He related this medical condition to a consultative approach.

“For this analogy, MSPs are the neurologists of this business,” he said.

Recently, when his cardiologist shared the results of his bloodwork and informed him that something was off, he was referred to a hematologist.

“That hematologist immediately got authority within my life because this cardiologist sits at my leadership table as it pertains to my health,” he said. “This is what’s going on in business as well.”

When it comes to business, one thing leaders demand is speed and data, he said. It also comes down to adaptability and shifting when the client does.

“They are wanting to know how adaptable my organization is to change and how fast can we do it,” he said. “My hope is that we gain authority and respect with our client that ultimately gives us a seat at the leadership table to allow us to guide our client through this process.”

And it all starts with the data, which he argued is the largest risk within a company, “so it demands your expertise.”

What’s also critical is keeping that seat at the leadership table. It’s important to keep that relationship with leadership and not just the in-house IT professional on their staff.

“If we don’t keep a seat at the leadership table, we run the risk of commoditizing our relationship and commoditizing our service,” he said. “And there’s a chance of losing that messaging.”

Justin Ploof, owner of Nashville-based MSP Mull IT, said while his business has a lot of gap assessment tools that pertain to IT specific things, he liked that Goodsell was talking bigger picture.

“When we start thinking bigger picture, that’s when our clients start respecting us more and starting to come to us for all kinds of things,” he told CRN.

To add value as a consultant, it’s paramount to gather feedback and to ask how the organization approaches strategy, implementation, resources and people.

“If I knew that adaptability, if I knew what kind of behaviors, mindsets, tendencies and beliefs that reside within that organization, if I’m trying to implement new technology, new processes or procedures, what is the adoption rate of that? That’s probably helpful,” Goodsell said.

The last approach is building a scalable, repeatable framework and learning about all the facets of the business.

“It’s systematizing this holistic approach so when we are going in we are diagnosing it the same way each time,” he said. “Let’s measure it, let’s be able to prove the impact that we’re having on these clients and areas that may not just be specific tasks.”