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Creativity, Education Key To Growing MSP Business During COVID-9: Datto

‘The best way to increase sales is to take existing services to your clients who may not know you have them. It seems obvious. But most MSPs don‘t really know how to sell. So educate clients on services you have that they are not using,’ says Dave Seibert, chief information officer at IT Innovators.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a challenging IT environment, but MSPs can thrive and grow by finding new ways to educate clients and bring them new services they may not have realized they needed before.

That‘s the word from Michael DePalma, senior channel development manager at Datto, the Norwalk, Conn.-based provider of MSP-focused RMM (remote monitoring and management) and PSA (professional services automation) platforms, data protection, and networking technologies.

DePalma was speaking to an audience of MSPs attending this week‘s XChange+ Virtual event, which is sponsored by The Channel Company, CRN’s parent company.

[Related: 32 Free Data Storage Offerings To Help Reduce COVID-19 Impact]

DePalma said small and midsize businesses are looking for guidance in several areas. with security first and foremost.

“[SMBs are] all reading the websites and all the stories that are coming out about the increase in attacks during this pandemic world that we‘re living through. ... They want to make sure that they are secure,” he said.

Almost as important is a need for help in investing in IT, DePalma said. As the economy starts recovering, there will be money to be spend, including capital improvements in their offices or investments in work from home support, he said.

“Those folks are now agreeing that if they‘re going to make an investment, it should be in their technology,” he said. ”Because they don’t know where [their employees] are going to be working from, the technology is now their lifeblood. And so they’re going to be making additional investments. All of this is great for the channel. So as a whole, we have to make sure that money that’s going to be spent is all funneling through the channel. That’s gonna lift all boats.”

Given the uncertainties small and midsized businesses face combined with the challenge of finding the talent they need to manage their IT, SMBs are searching for information which gives MSPs an opening to show how they can solve clients‘ new challenges, DePalma said.

One of the most underrated but most important tools solution providers can use is webinars he said, citing Datto‘s own success with the tool.

“[Datto‘s] getting great attendance on these webinars, and we’re getting great feedback on the recordings [from] the folks that want to listen to and digest the recordings on their own time,” he said.

Another tool MSPs need to bring out is getting referrals and recommendations given that the pandemic has made it hard to do cold-calling or mass mailings to reach new potential clients, DePalma said.

Getting those referrals and recommendation doesn't mean sitting back and letting clients talk about an MSP, he said. He cited Datto’s “MSP Rock Stars” program, where the vendor teaches out to customers to ask for quick one-minute to two-minute testimonials about how their MSP saved the day.

“We were flooded with folks willing to do this,” he said. ”This is fantastic. They‘re taking time out of their day in all these chaotic times to promote the channel and promote their managed service providers.”

MSPs should also look to sharing feedback from clients via social media, on their websites, or in email blasts, DePalma said.

“And now you can go and talk to those very happy clients of ours and say, ‘Is there anybody else in your network, in your circle, that had some real pain points in all this that you think I might be able to help?’ And inevitably, you’re gonna get some ’yesses’ there because they want to go and help out their colleagues and their vendors and their co-workers’ families.”

The pandemic has impacted MSPs’ business in other ways, leading to MSPs needing to evolve to overcome the new obstacles, DePalma said.

For instance, he cited the increasing number of clients asking MSPs for a break in service fees, a change that can be turned into an education moment for solution providers.

“Smart MSPs are saying, ‘I can reduce the managed services contract, but there’s going to be a reduction in some of the services, and this is the last place you wanna cut at this point and at this junction. You want to be sure you’re up and running,’” he said.

Datto knew at the beginning of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that 2020 would see major business impacts, DePalma. However, by June, the company had its strongest month ever despite the challenges, he said.

“So that showed it was nothing to do with Datto, but it showed the channel was able to get back up and running a lot faster than most people thought,” he said. ”So the opportunity is great. There‘s a lot of momentum here.”

DePalma‘s take on the importance of taking advantage of new and existing tools to help mitigate challenges caused by the pandemic was spot on, said Dave Seibert, chief information officer at IT Innovators, an Irvine, Calif.-based MSP and Datto channel partner.

Seibert said DePalma was correct about the importance webinars, which are useful in many ways such as bringing new products and services to clients who may not have thought of using them, Seibert told CRN.

“The best way to increase sales is to take existing services to your clients who may not know you have them,” he said. ”It seems obvious. But most MSPs don‘t really know how to sell. So educate clients on services you have that they are not using.”

While DePalma said getting referrals is important, Seibert suggests taking it a step further.

“Get case studies,” he said. ”Case studies are more powerful. They show what you did to solve a problem. And you can deliver case studies via webinars. They show existing clients what you have did before and will give them new ideas.”

Those case studies should often include a vertical focus, Seibert said.

“Customers seem to be buying from MSPs with expertise in some vertical,” he said. ”And you can highlight that expertise in those webinars.”

MSPs should also repurpose their webinars not only for live presentations, but also for posting on social media and making recordings available, Seibert said.

“I call this the gift that keeps giving,” he said. ”You create something for your existing client base, then repurpose all or pieces of it to blog posts, links to the webinar, anything that will drive traffic to the content and get clients to ask for more information. This is also how to reach out to net-new customer logos.”

[Editor’s Note: To attend the virtual event or view sessions on demand, visit the XChange+ registration page.]

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