MSPs Must Tailor Cloud Message To Maximize SMB SaaS Sales

MSPs have to curate their cloud messaging to specifically target SMBs and grow SaaS Sales within this customer segment, according to B2B consultancy firm Bredin.


SMB cloud adoption is on the rise, but that doesn't mean it’s easy money for the channel. MSPs need to know how to craft the right messaging around cloud to target small business customers, said Stu Richards, CEO of B2B consultancy firm Bredin.

To be successful selling cloud to SMBs, it's important to learn how these businesses learn about, research and make SaaS purchase decisions and why they are trying to move to the cloud in the first place, Richards told an audience of MSPs at The Channel Company's NexGen 2019 conference.

"When moving to cloud from on-prem, [partners] can help clients calculate cost savings and increases in productivity. That's what you bring to them -- helping them understand the benefits," Richards said.

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[Related: Futurist: Channel Has To Remove Friction To Cloud 2.0 Adoption]

To start, many SMB customers, especially those under 100 employees, are finding out about cloud solutions by doing a simple internet search. These buyers often rely heavily on ratings and feedback from their peers, so use cases will be important to this base of clients, Richards said.

Free trials or stripped down versions of applications and services can be a great way to for small businesses to trial SaaS applications. Cost savings is driving SMB cloud spending, so partners that can help customers get started with a SaaS solution can then demonstrate how the service will help build their profitability while keeping them secure, he said.

"That message of saving money will really resonate with small businesses … and free trials can be a very compelling way to eventually generate subscription revenues," Richards said. Most small businesses -- three out of four that Bredin recently surveyed -- have kept cloud services they tried on a freemium basis and three out of five moved on to a paid version, he added.

MotherG, a Itasca, Ill.-based MSP is selling cloud services to its clients today, with two of its biggest cloud partners being Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. The sweet spot for the firm is customers in the 50-100 end user range. Small business clients, in particular, are often asking for the "freemium" version of applications to try before they buy, said Mike Viso, director of marketing for MotherG.

"There's a lot of folks we work with that like to test things. Once we can get in there and educate them, we can show them why it's often better to have a paid version and really show them the costs and the benefits," Viso said.

Once SMBs get into the weeds of a particular cloud service, it's easier to demonstrate the value of working with a partner like MotherG, Viso said. "When they learn about how they are going to have to deploy [the service] and all the other things they'll have to do, that's often when they'll back out and call someone like us."

Most SMBs that haven’t already are looking to adopt cloud services, but many believe going to the vendor directly is the best way to consume these services and applications. That means that partners have a big opportunity to teach customers the value in working with a trusted partner that can help with migration, quell security fears or help them fully take advantage of all the features.

"If you're a glass half-full partner, there's a huge opportunity to move [small businesses] to the cloud, but they still need a lot of education into why cloud is a better solution compared to what they are using today, but also how to move there and making sure they understand the possible implementation issues," Richards said.