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The Pandemic Led To MSPs Being The ‘First Call’ Customers Make

CJ Fairfield

‘We’re the first call because of the way we were able to continue [customers’] operations and sustain protective measures for them when they had to work from home and operate their business,’ says Jason Wright, CEO of MSP Avatar Computer Solutions.

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While they may not be on the front lines of a house fire or vehicle accident, MSPs are the corporate first responders, according to Jason Wright, CEO of Houston-based MSP Avatar Computer Solutions.

Wright spoke to a room full of MSPs at CRN parent company The Channel Company’s XChange NexGen 2022 conference this week in Orlando, Fla.

“I‘m not saying we’re out there necessarily taking a bullet. I’m not saying we’re saving lives in the operating rooms, but by golly there wouldn’t be a world today if it wasn’t for us and IT people across the world,” he said.

Wright talked about what it takes to be a next-generation MSP, and it starts with the customer. In a recent study he shared, most MSPs think customers value cost savings, simplified IT operations and cost predictability. But in reality they value security protection, knowledge and advice, and responsiveness, he said.

[Related: Attention MSPs: You’re Also ‘Business Advisors,’ Not Just Tech Advisors]

“My point is, we’ve got to be talking to our customers,” he said. “We’ve got to poll them on a regular basis. We think about how to get more sales, how to get more market-generated leads, how to squeeze more profit out. Sometimes all you need to do is ask because what you see here is we’re not always aligned. So ask your customers and they’ll tell you exactly.”

He echoed what many are saying in the industry in that it’s not about disruption in the space, it’s about transformation.

“We’re about transformative change,” he said. “We’re about incremental change over time, about doing better with our processes, doing more with less with automation and refining our marketing efforts.”

There is an immediate and continued demand for digital transformation from customers, Wright added, and they’re looking directly at their MSP for help.

“We have ascended to the peak of the trusted adviser ecosystem,” he said.

For years, customers would call their bankers, lawyers, accountants and strategic advisers for business advice and how to grow operations, Wright said.

“Not anymore. We’re the first call because of the way we were able to continue their operations and sustain protective measures for them when they had to work from home and operate their business.”

And being that trusted adviser helps MSPs drive up their prices, he said.

“You’re the largest line item on your customer’s budget,” he said. “Bow your chest out, sell with confidence. You go into a meeting and say, ‘You’re paying $300 and here’s why.’ You’d be surprised at how more than likely they are to sign on the dotted line.”

Vince Fung, founder and CEO of Toronto-based MSP Expera Information Technology, told CRN he enjoyed hearing Wright’s perspective on how the world has evolved and how managed IT is a part of that.

“I really liked his comment about how we’re now the first call above their lawyers and their finance people,” he said. “During the pandemic, the IT departments and the IT outsourcing companies actually saved the day, allowing the world to continue to function.”

That point in particular was something he had never thought about, he said.

“I think we’re in a world where motivating our team is extremely challenging, and I don’t think a lot of technical people really understand how much impact they have in the world around us,” Fung said.

CJ Fairfield

CJ Fairfield is an associate editor at CRN covering solution providers, MSPs and distributors. Prior to joining CRN, she worked at daily newspapers, including The Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey and The Frederick News-Post in Maryland. She can be reached at cfairfield@thechannelcompany.com.

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