GlassHive CEO Says Marketing Tool Will Make Channel Sparkle Like Cinderella
This summer, marketing vendor GlassHive crossed the 15,000 partner mark and doubled in size since launching in July 2020.
The biggest marketing challenge for MSPs is that they don’t know how to do it, according to Giovanni Sanguily, founder of sales and marketing vendor GlassHive.
But he’s here to change that.
“I’m very much still committed to the vision of creating a full channel operating system (OS),” he told CRN. “From a revenue perspective, there’s only so much revenue that I put into it personally to take it where it is today. I took it out for validation purposes with sales and marketing capabilities, but the entire customer lifecycle management with this AI that we built, I want to put a full circle around what it is to be a channel OS.”
And the recipe is working. MSPs using GlassHive have recently collectively generated almost 400,000 leads and over a billion dollars in new revenue, which seems to reflect what the market is seeing as a whole, said Sanguily.
According to a 2022 Gartner CMO Spend and Strategy survey, the average marketing spend increased from 6.4 percent, in 2021 -- a historic low, to 9.5 percent, in 2022 across almost all industries.
Though it’s still lagging behind pre-pandemic marketing spends, which averaged about 10 percent of company revenue from 2018 to 2020.
And 10 percent of its target annual gross revenue is what MSPs should be spending on marketing a year, Sanguily said.
“I think the biggest misconception is that it’s hard and it takes a lot of time,” he said. “With automation nowadays I don’t think marketing takes that much time, especially if you consider ChatGPT that can help you create content. It’s easier than ever to get it going. I think it’s just an analysis paralysis. They get bogged down by a series of multiple best practices and they’re relying on one campaign to do everything. I call it the marketing one-night stand.”
CRN spoke to Sanguily about MSP marketing dos and don’ts, what needs to change going forward and how GlassHive is changing the game, making it easier for all MSPs to market their business successfully.
What are some initiatives you’re working on right now?
The bigger focus has been the ecosystem. The first thing I had to do with GlassHive was create an application that was simple and fun enough that MSPs would actually use to do marketing.
Now that we’ve got partners using it and they’ve adopted it as their primary tool [we’re focusing on] how do we enable an ecosystem to enhance their experience. Partners struggle with portal fatigue when it comes to their vendors because they have anywhere from 10 to 20 vendors that they’re partnered with. When they’re creating proposals, it is not a natural workflow for them to leave their proposal creation and jump into all these platforms to register deals or pull out marketing materials. So in order to enhance the customers experience, we created a marketplace where partners can connect with their vendors and vice versa. But this is not just to enhance integration. What it does is it ingests all of the vendors marketing materials and our API, which is named Woli, will redesign it to automatically brand for the partner. It’s their colors, their fonts, their picture preferences and our AI redesigns it. So there’s a little magic wand and he goes bibbidi-bobbidi-boo and then boom, all their marketing gets out.
When talking to MSPs, what are their biggest challenges when it comes to marketing?
They just don’t know what to do. It’s still the number one issue across service providers and it’s been like the reigning champ for the past 15 years. Even if they know a little bit about it, they don’t have time or resources to do it. Until they’re over $5 million [in annual recurring revenue] they don’t have a dedicated marketing person. Even if they do, that person is kind of a marketing coordinator, jack of all trades and they just struggle with it.
It wasn’t enough to give them access to resources because vendors do that across the board with their portals. It’s ‘here’s all this marketing material,’ but then when they pull it down and have to figure out, ‘Who am I going to get to rebrand all this stuff and alter the content and then how do I use it?’ In our world, because we’re a sales and marketing automation platform, the assets are linked to a go to market program already.
If you’re connected with SonicWall and SonicWall has a three-month cybersecurity awareness campaign that leads to an assessment with all the materials wrapped in that campaign, the AI will redesign it and all of the partner does is pick a date on the calendar that they want that to start and it goes out. It’s not just vendors, it’s also independent contractors, consultants, agencies… anybody that offers guidance in this perspective can create resources for the partners to build up and be more successful.
When it comes to marketing, can you put a percentage on how much an MSP, big or small, should dedicate to marketing to be successful?
If they don’t know what they’re doing, three to five percent of their target annual gross revenue. So if they want to hit an annual gross revenue of blank, they should do up to five percent. If they have some sort of success formula already, and they want to achieve best in class, then they will do 10 percent of the target revenue.
What is your biggest challenge?
I still think it’s awareness. We have a lot of partners but I think that since we’re so new as a company we still haven’t had that name brand acceptance everywhere. So for us, it’s just more awareness on what it is that we’re doing. That’s hard to say because we’re hitting our partner growth goals but I think from a branding perspective is a lot more than we can do. We’ve been putting all our money into development.
So what is your focus going forward?
I can take a customer from the first contact all the way to signature because we have coding, contracts and everything. But then you think about the customer, the service, ticketing, the support and leveraging those same automations and rich media communication to enhance the customer experience on that side. What’s left now is we can create all this beautiful marketing with all this AI and it looks super cool. But what about that customer onboarding experience when they onboard a customer? Can we do that for them when they’re servicing a ticket? Can the AI talk to them? Can Woli say, ‘We got all this stuff going on with your ticket. It’s automated, send it out with the sparkles and all the stuff that we do.’ That to me is the magic that I want to reinvent the channel with.
I think of Cinderella. The channel has been doing the same thing. A lot of these tools look like they were created in the 90s and they’re not rich media at all. It’s Cinderella with all her tattered stuff. She’s still Cinderella, she’s still beautiful but I’m about to put the bibbidi-bobbidi-boo on with the carriage and the sparkles and it’s going to get crazy.
What is the biggest misconception about sales and marketing?
I think the biggest misconception is that it’s hard and it takes a lot of time. With automation nowadays I don’t think marketing takes that much time, especially if you consider ChatGPT that can help you create content. It’s easier than ever to get it going. I think it’s just an analysis paralysis. They get bogged down by a series of multiple best practices and they’re relying on one campaign to do everything. I call it the marketing one-night stand. It’s like, ‘I did this campaign where I sent out 20,000 postcards and nothing happened.’ I’m like, ‘Great. You had a one-night stand with marketing.’ How successful are relationships like that?
You need to commit because the truth is one in 10 or one in 20 campaigns will be actually successful, and those are the ones that make the difference. The thing is for an MSP who is charging an average of $2,500 a month for a contract, that’s $30,000 a year and the average customer stays on for three years. You really only need about two customers to break even on your marketing spend. MSPs just need to take action and stop doing that one-night stand.
Do you think that AI is the future of marketing?
I think so. When I think about AI I think of two things: a nanobot and God. You can ask God for something and it will give you kind of an answer, like ChatGPT will spit out an answer. That’s what AI is programmed to do. Is it legally sound? It’s not an attorney. When you think of a nano environment, like our channel, and building an AI focus around our data, now that becomes way more prescriptive. Right now I’m monitoring about 23 million activities a month on the platform because social analytics and benchmarking is built into our big data platform. AI can see it and say, ‘This is the topic and this is the content end users are responding to most right now, let me just put it in front of you.’ It takes seven outbound touches to turn a lead into a meeting. Those nuances are very specific to what we do and will tell the story on those prescriptive answers. So I think the AI is going to get them to the answer much, much faster through the collective efforts of the channel and as a whole.
What separates GlassHive from the competition?
We are not a PRM (partner relationship management). That’s the biggest thing. We all have our own tool that we have that MSPs come to and we manage them. That’s not right because you represent one line item in a proposal of maybe a dozen line items. Trying to do all that is just messy because $25 billion of that MDF (marketing development fund) goes unspent every year in marketing collectively in the channel. Partners lacked proof of performance to get it done.
What we did to change this is I needed to build the first tool that was partner first. This is a partner-first tool that is built for them, not the vendors, to help them be great at sales and marketing. If they do sales or marketing here, this is where the proof of performance lives. Instead of having this one portal that one party gets insight into, I almost made it like a Google Doc. Everybody’s looking at the same thing as the name insinuates, a glass hive. We’re all collaborating in one place. So not only can an MSP see what resources or MDF a vendor has available, and they can request it, but also the vendors can see what opportunities the partners have and everything else that they’re connected to and decide to allocate. The second that connection is made, and any time that the partner uses that vendors resources, it reports back the results related to it which instantly releases the money that went unspent. So we’re all collaborating in one place in the channel, working together in one hive to grow the revenue of the entire channel.