Next-Gen MSPs Must Master Problem-Solving


Managed service providers who are only solving the networking issues that customers are telling them about are most likely missing out on the real problem, according to Jeanette Lee, senior director of product solutions architecture for Ruckus Networks.

"I really like to solve problems that customers didn't even know they had. It's easy to walk in and sell a box. But, [businesses] need you to come up with the real problem, and a better way of doing things," Lee said to an audience of solution providers Sunday at The Channel Company's XChange 2019 conference in Las Vegas.

Customers come to solution providers with their concerns, but often, having a solutions-driven conversation can help partners arrive at what the real problem is that customers need help solving.

[Related: CRN's 2018 Managed Service Provider 500]

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Businesses, for example, will often turn to partners for help with encryption, or improving cellular connectivity indoors, or even, "help building an IoT strategy," Lee said. Asking the right questions can help a partner identify the "why," she said.

"Maybe the real problem is that they have deployed a bunch of separate systems that don't work together for IoT and it's a mess," Lee explained. "The word 'strategy' is used often but has very little meaning."

The good news is, partners can listen their customers' concerns, zero in on the actual problem, and take action, she said.

Solving problems for businesses is "100 percent about listening" to the customer and evaluating their needs, said Brian Waldschmidt, MSP Consultant for TrinWare, a MSP based in Centennial, Colo. who was in the audience during Lee's keynote.

TrinWare has sold traditional IT services and now, the company is moving into cloud and managed solutions at the behest of its customers.

"It's about assessing their current needs. We're in the process of building out roadmaps for our existing customers to see what we can provide, and even what extends out of our reach," he said.

The company's move into managed services is important in helping its clients grow their own businesses, but it's also crucial for TrinWare in creating more recurring, "sticky" revenue streams.

"When customers are embracing technology and asking you to help them move forward, its very powerful," Waldschmidt said.

Having problem-solving conversations with customers will help partners build a custom solution based on the right infrastructure, and can even help their clients reach new goals, Lee said.

"Change the conversation to talk to someone about things they didn't know they could do," she said. "Don't talk about the things that you can sell -- focus on the flexible, resilient solution."