James E. Gaskin, Martin Sinderman, Colleen Frye, Rich Freeman 2017-06-28 00:54:15
SMB NEWS AND VIEWS IN BRIEF Seek Out Cross-Sell/Upsell Opportunities—Habitually Your customers are buying everything else they need from somebody, so why shouldn’t that be you? WHO ARE YOUR BEST PROSPECTS for new business? Your current customers. Yet many resellers find it difficult to get into the habit of cross-selling and upselling the people who already trust them. “[Fewer] than 50 percent of channel pros, and probably far fewer, even attempt to cross-sell and upsell,” says Keith Lubner, managing partner of Philadelphia-based Channel Consulting Corp. “It’s eye-opening and mind-boggling how little some are doing.” Lubner works with his IT solution provider clients to list everything in their portfolios, and then provides a map tool to chart which current customers would be receptive to add-on solutions. “People often only think of cross-selling within the same product line, like pitching Azure to Office 365 customers. But when you understand the synergies between vendors you really make service and sales improvements.” Ronnie Parisella, co-founder and managed services consultant for New York-based channel consultancy the MSP Foundry, sees the same problem. “With every client we make a cross-sell matrix for their particular products and customers to show them where the opportunities are,” he says. “Fewer than 10 percent have a real awareness of what they’re selling to customers and what they could be providing. Customers are buying everything else they need from somebody, so why not you?” Pay Attention to Profitability and Utilization The two things you should pay attention to are profitability and utilization, notes Parisella. “The average business owner doesn’t know either number—or how to make them better,” he says. ”After a few hours of our three-day engagement with new clients, they have an epiphany and say, ‘I’ve been doing that wrong,’ and we can start working for real.” Parisella describes three techniques for identifying upsell and cross-sell opportunities. “First, know your clients. Most MSPs don’t. Dig deep and learn where your customer is spending money. Second, make the client sticky by controlling everything. That means bandwidth, phones, printer maintenance agreements, everything down to their kid’s home backup. Third, never let a customer wait for a callback. If you’re still working on a problem, tell them before they ask. If they have to call it opens a distrust split.” Most channel pros know the benefits of cross-selling or upselling, but struggle with execution. Lubner did a fast-track study and asked solution provider CEOs how they planned to grow their businesses. “Over 85 percent said cross-selling and upselling,” he recounts. Resellers who use Lubner’s tools and plans report they see significant growth, increasing their service business 40 to 50 percent around the products they sell to clients. “We optimize their product and services matrix and visualize it to help the sales team enhance their opportunities,” he explains. An aspect of your business that can be optimized is any expertise in verticals, such as financial services, education, or healthcare, to help customers attain their business goals. “Focus on the business outcomes you get by blending and cross-selling all the value-added products and services you bring to the table,” says Lubner. “Each client does things incorrectly in their own way,” says Parisella. “Is the Office 365 market saturated? Microsoft adds 1.2 million O365 accounts per month. MSPs should be easing that rollout.” He compares the approach of Google Apps to Microsoft Office 365. “Microsoft gave away their Exchange server business. One paid O365 license allows you to bring up one Azure Active Directory Domain Controller, so customers can put their business in Microsoft’s cloud for free. And while I’ve been a Google reseller for years and years, I’ve never met a Google rep.” He believes the market is still the frontier, and helps his clients make the most money possible on this opportunity. “One O365 sale can be a nightmare for a customer to cut over. Your clients need O365 engineers and deployment managers. Offer those services.” Lubner drills down as well. “Cross-selling is just one part of it. When prospecting, develop the ability to connect layers on top of layers. You can’t make recommendations to a customer unless you know what products and services you can offer to improve their business.” Securing against Business-Partner Compromises YOU’VE PROTECTED your client’s network from bad actors. But what about protection from malware and other breaches that can inadvertently come from the “good guys”; that is, the vendors, business partners, and other third-party organizations your client exchanges data with, and over whom you have no control? The latter is a more likely scenario, according to Josh Feinblum, vice president of information security at Rapid7 Inc., a Boston-based provider of analytics solutions for security and IT operations. “Most small businesses will never fall into the crosshairs of a malicious actor, but they could find themselves embroiled in a broader breach response due to the poor security posture of their vendors,” Feinblum says. And in today’s world, he notes, “A simple, high-level vetting of vendors can significantly reduce the risk of SMBs getting pulled into costly crisis situations.” Establishing a risk assessment process is crucial in addressing this issue, according to Ryan Barrett, vice president of security and privacy at Mountain View, Calif.-based IT and services provider Intermedia.net Inc., “so you can ensure that third-party organizations connecting to your client’s systems are trustworthy.” The process Barrett describes includes getting attestations and certifications on the organizations’ security measures and how they compare with standards such as NIST 800.53, a catalog of security controls for all U.S. federal information systems, and ISO 27001:2013 and/or PCI; as well as gathering verifiable documentation, such as SOC 2 Type II certification, that reflects independent compliance audits of the third party’s security standards. A high-level vendor assessment can provide a wealth of useful information, notes Feinblum. “But avoid sending hundreds of questions, and instead focus on asking the five to 10 questions that matter most to you,” he says, “which should include very foundational questions around things like two-factor authentication, external penetration testing, vulnerability management, and patching.” “Attestations and certifications are good starting blocks,” adds Brent Huston, security evangelist and CEO of MicroSolved Inc., a Columbus, Ohio-based information security firm. “But the partners with whom you exchange sensitive/critical data need ongoing validation,” he explains, requiring “a system of ongoing monitoring, passive assessments, and other technical means to isolate ‘hot spots,’ and then putting pressure on those organizations in real time to mitigate.” Ongoing efforts by SMBs to protect against attacks via business partners also include “treating all business partner interconnections as untrusted, and implementing strong prevention, detection, and response mechanisms,” Huston says. To effectively address the issue of business partner, vendor, and other third-party threats, “SMBs should focus less on tools and more on process,” says Feinblum. He adds, “They must make sure they understand where their most sensitive data is going, and work to ensure that they are exercising some degree of diligence of third parties.” Wi-Fi Opens Up Add-on Revenue Opportunities WHEN WATCHGUARD TECHNOLOGIES Inc. started reaching out to the MSP community about its Wi-Fi Cloud platform, “it pretty quickly became apparent they are interested in not just selling hardware but wrapping managed services around it. It’s more value for them and great for us for the stickiness of our technology,” says Ryan Orsi, director of product management for Wi-Fi at Seattle-based WatchGuard. MSPs’ customers are interested too, he says. “Many people feel Wi-fiis like black magic. They just want someone else to make it work. We provide the management tools and troubleshooting [capability] to our resellers.” Indeed, there appears to be a lot of opportunity, according to a recent global report from Markets and Markets, which estimates that the Wi-Fi-as-a-service market will grow from $1.18 billion in 2016 to $5.94 billion by 2021, at a CAGR of 38.1 percent. And Wi-Fi research conducted by consultancy iGR Inc., on behalf of KodaCloud, finds that 64 percent of over 12 million surveyed small to midsize businesses are very interested in Wi-Fi as a service from MSPs. Orsi outlines four add-on revenue opportunities for MSPs: Managed Wi-Fi: Via WatchGuard’s Wi-Fi Cloud, MSPs can remotely monitor Wi-Fi networks and receive notifications about potential issues, so they can deal with them proactively for their customers. Resellers typically charge monthly per access point or per number of users, Orsi explains. Managed Wi-Fi security: Orsi says Wi- Fi Cloud has a new, patented approach to a Wireless Intrusion Prevention System (WIPS) that automatically stops traffic sniffing at hotspots—without inadvertently shutting down a legitimate access point. Orsi says resellers can package services around HIPAA or PCI compliance, or providing Wi-Fi vulnerability assessments and remediation. Managed guest experience: This includes creating splash pages, capturing guest information, push marketing, and so on. “The typical Wi-Fi vendor doesn’t offer this built-in, but makes resellers go out to a third party to integrate with the access point. We bring this under one platform and the reseller can be carving that feature set out as a monthly service.” Managed location analytics: Wi-Fi vendors typically don’t capture and sell location-based analytics, forcing resellers to engage a third party, says Orsi. The WatchGuard Wi-Fi Cloud enables resellers to package and sell these types of services to brand managers and sales managers, for example. Orsi says WatchGuard will “continue to build out more access points to fit scenarios for channel partners,” the most recent being a high-performance, cloud-ready outdoor access point that extends the benefits of WatchGuard’s Wi-Fi Cloud for use in settings such as stadiums, schools, open-air malls, and hotel pool areas. VENDOR TO WATCH FRANK DEBENEDETTO’S not-so-secret weapon when he first began selling cloud services was named Sandy. That would be Hurricane Sandy. When DeBenedetto and his team at Two River Technology Group LLC, of Holmdel, N.J., urged businesses knocked out of commission for weeks by the massive 2012 storm to adopt hosted backup and email solutions, they were only too willing to comply. “They were pretty easy to sell to,” DeBenedetto recalls. The going got harder, however, once that low-hanging fruit had been picked. Customers needed to be persuaded that the solutions he was selling were worth paying for. Slowly, through trial and error, he figured out how to do it: Paint a vivid picture of the pain that clients could suffer if they rejected his recommendations. Base the business case for his proposal on a detailed site audit that exposed deficiencies in the customer’s current IT environment. And present the results of that audit in a graphical, color-coded format that even the least technical business owner could understand. The more DeBenedetto refined his system, the better it worked—and the more time he spent explaining his techniques to curious peers. “They loved it,” DeBenedetto recalls. “They all kind of inspired me to make it available to them.” That’s exactly what DeBenedetto’s second business, audIT Sales Presentation System, also of Holmdel, now does. For a flat $197 a month, channel pros selling cloud services or anything else can draw on the same battle-tested audit templates and full-color printable reports that Two River uses to such great effect, not to mention a library of infographics that explain complex topics like business continuity in clear, starkly emotional terms. audIT’s reports are so compelling, in fact, that DeBenedetto advises channel pros to make preparing them a paid service, rather than use them as a free sales tool, noting that you can subtract the cost from a company’s first bill if they end up becoming a customer. “That’s a good way to generate some additional revenue,” he notes. It also beats waiting for a natural disaster to do your selling for you. AT-A-GLANCE SMBs Show a Mobile Security Disconnect THERE IS A DISCONNECT between how secure SMBs feel and how secure they actually are when it comes to mobility, according to Techaisle LLC’s US SMB & Midmarket IT Security Adoption Trends survey. When the analyst firm reached out to more than 1,200 SMBs and midmarket firms, almost half, 45 percent, reported that they’re “as prepared as can be,” while another 19 percent said they’re “fully prepared and confident.” Only 5 percent acknowledged that they’re not well prepared. Yet according to the survey findings, only 27 percent of small business mobile devices are protected. Moreover, the use of multiple layers of defense, as well as mobile application management (MAM) and mobile device management (MDM), is uncommon among smaller companies. This contrasts with midmarket firms. The survey finds 92 percent have mobile protection; 76 percent have adopted multilayer defense; and more than 95 percent are using MAM and MDM. In the last year, 64 percent of U.S. SMBs have had a mobility security breach, according to Techaisle. Nearly 40 percent of small businesses and almost 80 percent of midmarket firms are aware of at least one mobile security breach occurring within their environments during that same period. Further, Techaisle believes that additional breaches went undetected, particularly in smaller firms. Anurag Agrawal, Techaisle’s CEO, says there are three primary reasons why small companies are experiencing this disconnect. One is that IT security has progressed beyond protecting the endpoints to the need for end-to-end security across data’s entire flow. “They’re not educated enough about different security technology solutions that can really protect them [in scenarios such as] data at rest, data in motion, [and] rogue employees,” he says. Second, small businesses don’t believe they need to invest extra dollars in layered security because they’ve been content with anti-virus and firewalls, he says. And finally, Agrawal concludes, “they do not really have a point of contact, whether that’s a channel partner or adviser, to advise them as to what they should be doing.” This opens a tremendous opportunity for MSPs. “Most of the vendors are focused on endpoint security,” Agrawal says. “The channel partner has to come up to speed and partner with multiple security vendors and create their own [managed] security offering.”—Colleen Frye JAMES E. GASKIN is a freelance writer and former reseller based in Mesquite, Texas.
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