Channel 101: Leverage Vendor Partners to Scale Your MSP Business
Most MSPs not only support the SMB but are small businesses themselves. This means they understand what those organizations need from an IT perspective with a full comprehension of what it takes to build, manage and own a non-enterprise establishment. The ability to connect and empathize with other entrepreneurs who deal with a similar myriad of issues is invaluable and can fortify relationships between MSPs and customers.
Managed services business owners face the same struggles as other entrepreneurs. One of those shared challenges is limited access to critical resources, including people, capital, and most importantly, knowledge base. Without a sufficient supply of those assets, company growth is typically slower and more painful, though many SMBs prefer that route instead of increasing their debt load or bringing in investors – who typically want some level of control or future guarantees. Few entrepreneurs would choose to give away any of that power and flexibility if alternate options are available.
Unfortunately, the needs of an MSP business never end, from continual expansion of technical and sales support teams to steady investments in marketing and other lead-generation activities. IT services firms must consistently innovate to land new clients, generate more income, and maximize profits.
Fully funding those activities can be a challenge for new businesses since most have few clients paying the bills. Since few MSPs can afford to hire a full team of skilled professionals (or even solid prospects) initially, many recruit generalists or specialists who can support areas of most need and build from that point. Success comes from efficiency.
The Building Blocks of a Successful IT Services Business
What does it take to turn a good MSP into “great?” In addition to all the continually changing client-facing responsibilities, technologies, and process and compliance requirements, managed services providers need to mind their own business. That means adopting industry and accounting standards and working constantly to improve operations and their bottom lines – and the constantly growing list of responsibilities can be overwhelming.
MSPs can more easily accomplish many of those objectives by leveraging their partnerships with key vendors and distributors. There are a tremendous amount of resources available to managed services providers through these alliances and relatively few companies utilize
- Sales. Vendor help partners close deals in a variety of ways, from providing playbooks and coaching teams on technologies and applications to performing demos with key decision-makers. MSPs that share sales objectives and target customer profiles can forge tighter bonds with these allies and work more collaboratively to attain mutual business goals.
- Marketing. Many small businesses invest time and attention replicating materials and recreating programs that suppliers have already created. While creativity and branding should be unique for every MSP (or should be), many vendors craft marketing templates, tools and program outlines to simplify the process for their partners. Channel-focused companies like ConnectMeVoice by Cloudli even provide white-label options to boost providers’ branding efforts, ensuring end-users see their names and logos each time they access their UCaaS application.
- Lead generation Most channel vendors receive inquiries from end-user businesses and hand off those requests to partners offering local support or a needed specialization. Suppliers that work exclusively with IT services companies may not promote that benefit since they don’t actively market to that community. However, most successful MSPs foster strong working relationships with their key vendors to ensure when those best-fit opportunities do arise, they are top-of-mind with account managers and sales teams.
- Technical. MSPs cannot be experts at everything. Hiring or training people to support every possible technology solution is unfeasible, especially when vendor partners employ professionals with specialized capabilities. Leveraging those teams to solve the infrequent issues and help design new projects saves MSPs a lot of time and money that could be invested in other parts of the business.
Multiply Resources, Minimize Costs and Anxiety
Building a business is stressful enough for owners without having to do everything on their own and create everything from scratch. The right channel partners remove much of that angst and complexity, allowing MSPs to quickly and cost-effectively scale their operations – while delivering valued solutions and support to their clients. No IT services firm has to navigate this path alone.
Whether a new or established MSP, the current economic and workforce/labor shortage challenges make this the perfect time to explore all the available resources. What opportunities are providers overlooking with existing vendor partners? How could sales, marketing, and support teams benefit from these programs? Successful MSPs continually scrutinize productivity and expansion opportunities and look for new and better ways to get more output from fewer resources.
In today’s competitive environment, MSPs must effectively utilize everything and everyone at their disposal – including vendors, distributors and cloud/service suppliers. Providers that forge strong bonds and develop deep relationships with account managers can strengthen their businesses and deliver even better customer support. That’s a win-win opportunity that comes at little to no extra cost.