One Idea for MSPs To Get Referral Business: Preaching to the Choir

In the religious community, a testimony can be an anecdote, proclaimed circumstance or conveyance of a rise from adversity that sparks inspiration and enthusiasm among fellow believers. For Maurice Saluan, VP of sales at Zenith Infotech, the concept is the same in business.

While much is made of wooing customers and touting products and service lines, a lot can be said for word of mouth, customer satisfaction stories and plain old testimonials. The key here for MSPs is to find out what a customer likes and dislikes, accentuate the like part and ask a client to step out of the customer box and into the partner box.

Case in point: If you're an MSP specializing in the health vertical and you're courting SMBs specializing in the health vertical, it would be tempting and almost automatic as an MSP to tout your expertise in your vertical and the business miracles your products and services can perform in that vertical.

But there's a further step to augment, replace or in the best case, optimally complement that expertise with a good word from an existing client to a potential client. Doctor-to-doctor, dentist-to-dentist, engineer-to-engineer can often be more effective, real and better-comprehended than hearing upsides or techno-speak overtures from a salesman or tech expert. Such testimonials can come in the following ways:

In person: Take a client with you to another client sales call or presentation meeting. Let them speak on your behalf, perhaps offering a premium or some service or product incentive to clients willing to intercede on your behalf.

In print and online: Advertising is always a good look, but it can be costly and, at worse, seen as presumptuous and condescending. Get your client's story on paper, tailor it to your needs, run it on a company blog, in an electronic newsletter or in a very intuitive print booklet or pamphlet you can leave behind. Video is also good, but if you undertake the task of fully leveraging your client satisfaction in testimonial form and are enthusiastic about it, please keep reading. a way that doesn't come off like an infomercial, there is power in narrative: A smart client can see a veiled pitch coming from miles away. One thing no one wants to see is something that looks coached or rehearsed or disingenuous, like this: "When I used Company A's database solution, I doubled my profit and saw the light," or "Company X gave me a value-added proposition that led to a noticeable spike in my topline revenue, enabling me to meet milestones and benchmarks and other increases in receivables that make me smile as I spewed sales jargon and business think-speak all over my peers."

That's not the move but real stories are, in fact...the move.

A lawyer that needed to store and retrieve case files, a healthcare provider able to conveniently access patient history to better treat patients, a construction firm able to pull down schematics and track workflow through a mobile device -- all it was due directly or indirectly to the services you offer.

The takeaway here is be specific, be engaging, and above all else, speak plainly. Essentially, let your customer testify as to your good works to the congregation. It's one true example of when preaching to the choir is a good thing.

Posted by Jabulani Leffall on June 14, 2011 at 11:57 AM0 comments

MSPs Offer Better Cloud Security, Despite Obstacles

It's no secret that the limber and malleable nature of MSPs, which can offer large-scale service via partnerships despite low overhead, is making them increasingly the envy of larger partners and competitors.

But just because something isn't a secret doesn't mean small vendors have been all that vocal about it...until now.

Phil Lieberman of Lieberman Software said that while MSPs have experienced a very interesting evolution and could therefore potentially provide much better security and oversight for their MSP offerings compared to what is offered by the large providers, it's unclear whether the seemingly symbiotic relationship could spark antagonism. This is especially true, contends Lieberman with the advent of the cloud and, by extension, the need for cloud security.

Lieberman has an axe to grind with large vendors like Google and Microsoft, which he said will likely "savage" their MSP partners in this area.

"In general, it is pretty clear that the intentions of both Google and Microsoft plan to take as much of the MSP business they can for themselves, and take over the existing MSP's business," he said.

It is laughable, Lieberman added, that companies like "Microsoft and Google publicly say they want MSPs, SIs, and ISVs to promote their solutions, but it is clear that this will ultimately lead to their partners demise by shifting all of the revenue and control" of platforms to themselves.

Biases and predictions notwithstanding, the ace in the hole for MSPs is the SMB market, where MSPs and IT service shops excel in customer service and retention.

As cloud adoption picks up, MSPs can both upsell and tweak service options for existing customers with security and business continuity as a natural fit. A recent study by AMI predicts rising budgets for cloud architecture to the tune of 15 percent by 2015.

With the channel packed with cloud offerings it's safe to say that MSPs partnering with SMB clients will be in a better position to pick and choose sell-through and adoption of cloud technologies regardless of any moves by the big boys.

Posted by Jabulani Leffall on June 14, 2011 at 11:57 AM0 comments