Archives For MSSP

businessman hand working with new modern computer and business s

It’s Easy to Leave A Channels Event, Distributor Conference, or Mastermind Group feeling good about your MSP business. After all, your business is producing a profit.

You’ve been in business for 20 years or more. And you’ve managed to weather several economic downturns over the past couple of decades.

Don’t get too comfortable…

The high-tech business is a fickle thing…there are economic downturns (recessions, depressions, or whatever you want to call them…) and then there’s commoditization. The latter is your greater enemy.

Like medical and grocery sales, people need their computer. The high-tech business (servers, storage, data center, etc.) has been a high growth industry since I entered the business world out of college. It just has…perhaps it always will…tech is the lifeblood of most businesses today.  We can’t work without it.

However, It commoditizes.

Building Sustainability Into Your Business

This week I’m attending a marketing conference in Cleveland OH. Over 1200 small business owners packed into an auditorium listening to some of the greatest entrepreneurial minds in world.

This morning’s session focused on sustainability.

As the speaker unfolded over an hour’s worth of strategies, the MSP business  came to mind…a business that relies on long term customer retention.

MSP sales are not transactional. In fact, if your clients only stayed a month or two, your cost of sales would eat your business alive. You really need them to stay.

Historically, retention in the MSP business is 5 years (average). Yours might be more or less, but you should know your number. The goal is to increase it. If you could add just one year to your average (assume you have 100 clients signed on), that’s 1200 months of MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) added to your business in that one single act. Or think of it as signing a 1200 year contract with your next client!

5 Things You Should Be Doing To Create Sustainable MSP Business…

Build Evergreen Assets.  If you’re taking care of your customer, you’re probably meeting quarterly to review their IT. Hopefully you’re also giving them guidance. During the initial sale you also had to review their business and create some sort of proposal.

However, building everything from scratch is destined to fail. The cost of customization is high, and the likelihood of messing up is high too…Better to productize your offerings…here’s how.

First, you should be selling packaged offerings. There’s your core MSP offering, and then there are add-ons (like riders on an insurance policy).  However, when you buy a car, those extras are often bundled into packages. The electronics package with the stereo upgrades. By doing this the dealer eliminates the headache of creating a completing customized quote.

In this case you need at least one (but probably more) security package…one that can be added to their existing MSP agreement (if someone else holds that contract), or attached to yours (now or later).

There’s also a maturity model…if you were to create a maturity roadmap for security, when your new customer joined your program, you would figure out where they are right now, and begin taking them through your 24 step program…certain mail pieces, meetings, assessments, and sales efforts would be made along the way – all predetermined.

Building Identity. Customer loyalty is also a key to sustainability. Not everyone will be loyal, but the hotel and airline industries, as well as Amazon and Starbucks, have all proven that people will join the club if you sell it the right way.

It turns out identity (the people group, brand, or team I identify with) will drive my behavior faster than just about anything else. I’m a lifetime platinum member of Marriott…when it’s time for coffee, I’m waiting in line at Starbucks in the airport, even though there’s a coffee shop right across the hall with no wait. Why?

I’m part of the club. I identify myself as a Starbucks customer, I stay at Marriott unless there just isn’t one…and I’m not the only one.  If you’re sitting there telling yourself you don’t do that, remember, you’re not you’re own customer…you want to sell to people who will sign on with a brand and stay.

Sell to The Right People. There is a people group out there worth your time…but there are also people not worth selling to.

Your job is to identify the people group you work well with, and go after them. I was talking to a very successful entrepreneur this week – he told me he sells to men, age 45 – 60, ambitious, hard working, leaners, who are already in business. He also noted it’s best if they are married, politically conservative, etc. You might think he’s too narrow. Yet he’s made millions (plural) of dollars in personal income annually over the past decade.

Signing the wrong people onto a business that demands retention is a recipe for failure.

When identifying your perfect customer (the customer avatar) you’ll want to know how they think…the more you know what’s on their mind, the better.

Today’s speaker said it like this…”Know what they are thinking about every day as they leave the office…know what they talk about around the dinner table each evening…and if they wake up at night worrying about stuff, you should know it.”

In the End They Need Hope. Dave Ramsey does one of the best jobs of selling hope.  He tells his team, when you pack up a book or CD to ship out, it’s not a book, it’s a package of hope.

With MSP; remember, most small businesses are frustrated with computers. They don’t understand them, they don’t really trust them, and when it comes to security, they’ll do just about anything to avoid thinking about it.  Security issues just create more stress…

Want To Build The Sustainable MSP Business?

Stop trying to copy the models presented by MSP cloud offerings around you. They don’t know how to sell to the SMB market. They know how to sell to you…I’m talking about the SolarWinds, Continuums, and nAbles of the world…

Be radical…start thinking about what a small business really needs…what would remove all the IT stress from their world.  And then start providing it to your ideal customer avatar.  Add one year to your average, and then continue to journey. It’s the road to MRR growth…And it’s sustainable.

© 2017, David Stelzl

P.S. Do you have my Security Assessment Report Template…Designed to move prospects into your program quickly?

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ohioSpeaker Notes for Tomorrow’s Session in Cincinnati…

This morning I am headed to Ohio to meet with business leaders in the Cincinnati area – Another Digital Money session on Stopping Hackers!

If you provide IT services to businesses, I hope you’ll consider doing one of these with me at some point. Every business needs it, and most don’t understand the threats they are up against.

It’s a busy fall for us. Last week we wrapped up a session in San Francisco with large reseller executives, then headed down to work with a large sales team in Irvine, CA.  And tomorrow, Cincinnati, a session sponsored by InTrust-IT…

The Most Frequently Misunderstood Truth In Small Business

The big question always comes up, “Why would anyone want my data? After all, we’re just a local business. There’s nothing interesting here.”  I think Verne Harnish answered that question last week. If you’ve read his books, Rockefeller Habits, and Scaling Up, you know he’s a small business with very little in the way of infrastructure. Like me, he’s a speaker and a business coach, supported by a small team. Yet his blog post tells the story of a $400K ruse that caught him and his team completely by surprise.

Why small business? Because small businesses still have money, take out loans, and process credit cards. They have bank accounts and payrolls. Today’s hacking tools are largely automated. So sending out hundreds or thousands of scamming emails takes the hacker very little time. When one lands, the hacker will follow up. Small businesses are also largely unprotected by this sort of thing.

It might be a fraudulent invoice or request for ACH wire transfer. In Verne’s case he writes, “They sent an email to my assistant completely imitating my style, subject line, and signature asking her to wire funds to three different places.” This is getting more and more common. The more data we put online about ourselves, the easier it is for someone to impersonate us!

Tomorrow’s Session is About Digital Money and the Value of Data

Digital Money, my latest book, goes into detail on this. Data aggregation is in motion, pooling our data in one place where it can be analyzed.

There are several major data aggregators out there doing this. But the idea is to collect enough data to profile YOU. This is usually for the purpose of some analysis or marketing effort. We’re seeing it used right now in the election. That’s right. The candidates are leveraging this data to figure out who is likely to be on the edge, and needs a push. The data tells them both who to target  and how to influence them.

That data in the hands of the hacker allows the hacker to act just like Verne, or whoever they need to be, to issue orders to the team. Verne’s on stage in Russia, meanwhile his team is getting instructions to transfer funds. Will they? Of course. They’ve received these requests in the past, and they were real. There’s no reason to question them now, and the hacker knows that. These attacks are well scripted and highly successful. And the likelihood of prosecution is low.

Can it be stopped? Not completely. But there are ways to reduce the risk…and that moves us to a managed security program that involves people and technology, well equipped to deal with these common attacks. A program that detects these threats early on, before data has been compromised, and stops them before damage is done. Tomorrow, my goal is to give our audience the business-level understanding they need to make wise decisions going forward. And then to point them to the tools and process they’ll need to combat these attacks in the coming year.

© 2016, David Stelzl

 

IMG_6236Your Client’s Data Value Demands a Response

Last week I spoke at the Oklahoma Technology Symposium at The Cox Convention Center downtown, and then again to business leaders at the Gailaria Country Club north of the city. (Thanks to AnchorPoint Security and Check Point Software.)

The value of your client’s data is rapidly growing, and this was central to both of my presentations.

The Proof is in the Ransomware

People are paying the ransom. They can’t afford not to. Just this morning the WSJ reported another incident, this one related to the Leavine family NASCAR race team. They only paid $500, but $500 for what? The true cost of a breach like this is much greater. The FBI estimates the total cost per incident to be around $333,000! And the incidents of ransomware now four times what they were last year.

If you’re not talking to your clients about ransomware, now is the time. But more than talk is needed. They need answers.

Start by assessing their exposure to this type of attack. Can your client detect it coming in with their current security set up? My guess is that most can’t. That’s a managed services offering right there. Few companies will have the expertise to do this internally. They also need user awareness training. One place to start might be my latest book, Digital Money. It will be out by the end of this month!

The fact is, more data is being created, and just about every business is down when their computers are down. Data defines just about everything, including all of their clients, R&D, projects, finances, etc. Without their data, they’re out of business. What’s that worth?

Digital Money

July 29, 2016 — Leave a comment

2016-07-26_16-21-40Digital Money

The Book Cover…And More

Where making headway…a few things you’ll want to know.

First, the target audience – business leadership. This is not a technical read. Instead, it answers the question, who’s at risk and how much risk do they have.

If you provide security solutions, especially assessments and managed security solutions, you’ll want every one of your customers to read this. Without beating around the bush, I clearly tell business leaders, they need your help! Not only can they NOT afford to maintain the right level of security people, they can’t afford the ongoing detection technology. Except with very large F500 accounts, they’ll want to outsource to you.

But I also provide insight into the kinds of things service providers must provide to small and mid-market companies.  Study what I say in this book and begin equipping your company to meet the core needs outlined in this book.

Due out in August!

© 2016, David Stelzl

 

Retention and MSP Business

Today I’ll be speaking to resellers (sponsored by Ingram Micro) on the topic of MSP retention. There are many reasons why clients move on – one of the biggest is CONNECTION. Are you in touch with your clients every month?

Join us today at 1 PM ET <<< Click to Grab Your Seat or Get the Replay

I will be covering several strategies to fix this – but one simple strategy is your newsletter. The problem is, our industry has gone digital. It’s easy to put a newsletter out in digital format, blast it to your list, and think, “There, I’ve done it.”  The problem is, open rates on digital newsletters are terrible. Maybe 15%.

Do the math – 100 MSP clients – 15 opened my letter. How many actually read it?  Hmmm.

The hard part is writing it. If you write one, you know – it’s time consuming. So if you’re going to go through the trouble of writing it, here are three things to consider…some of which I will give more detail on today at 1 PM ET.

  • ONE: Print it! That’s right, in the digitalized megatrend age – the printed newsletter’s lifespan is much longer. I started mailing mine out in early 2016 and I can tell you without a doubt, when I talk with my clients, not only do they still have back issues of the letter – they’ve read it!
  • TWO: If you’re going to write – make sure you know your audience! For instance – if you call on small business, don’t kid yourself…they don’t care about Microsoft updates, advancements in storage technology, or even the bits and bytes of ransomware.
  • THREE: Be consistent.  Send it out every month at the same time. Email them ahead to let them know its coming, and package it in something they’ll recognize. I get a newsletter every month from a coaching group I belong to – when their package arrives, it’s clear. It’s the first thing I open!  And I usually read it.

Join me this afternoon and I’ll give you more great ideas on how to win over your clients long-term, and stay connected over the years!

© 2016, David Stelzl

blockchainBlock Chains, Cyber Currencies, and The Value of Data

Digital Money, my next book, should be out this summer!

If you’ve read Data@Risk, this is the update…for the past seven years resellers have used Data@Risk as a tool to educate business leaders (prospects and clients) on security, moving them to change their strategy. That was 2009.

It’s time for an update….

Money is going digital, but data is even more valuable. Disaster Recovery experts used to say, “People are a company’s most important asset.” While I agree – it’s also true that businesses act as if data is their most important asset. People can leave in mass, and even go on strike, and the company will likely recover. Lose your data, and the bankruptcy rate is high. Especially in the SMB markets.

This book explores security, including:

  • 7 Things your clients need to know about if they want their data to be safe. (Trends they don’t understand – but will be shocked to learn about.)
  • The one mistake every company seems to be making – one that is leading to failure after failure…and what to do about it.
  • Why just about every company must have a managed security program – no matter how small they are, and how to convince them to use yours.
  • Seven mindsets business leaders must adopt, and reinforce in their team members – if they plan to stay in business.
  • What to look for in an IT Services Provider, and why they can’t groom their own internal security experts (unless they are Fortune 500 or bigger). – a perfect introduction to your services! 

Stay tuned!  I’m in the final editing stages, and about to send it off for official editing…

PS. While you’re waiting, check out the Security Sales Mastery Training Program!  It’s online and chances are I can get you a sponsored seat (if you’re a reseller working with one of the major technology distributors!) <<< Click and we’ll get funding for you!

encryptionAre You Protecting Your Clients From Ransomware?

This is likely one of their biggest threats – but if all you do is basic firewall management and backups, this attack won’t be stopped. Ultimately your client should be asking you – how did YOU let this happen.

Not that your client’s will all pay for more intelligent security, but it’s your responsibility to tell them – let them make the financial choice, knowing the risk they are taking.

Zepto is new – it’s dangerous.  It’s a varient of the Locky Ransomware, reportedly responsible for encrypting files at three major US hospitals;  Kentucky Methodist, Chino Valley, and Desert Valley.

This month, researches estimate that this one attack was carried to over 140,000 systems in just a few days. As social engineering evolves, people are tricked more often. Getting an email from your boss or higher level executive demands a response. And when there’s an attachment, it’s hard to call upstairs every time just to make sure it’s real.

This type of attack is gaining momentum – it’s highly profitable. And to date, the only consistent recommendation is to maintain good backups. But restoring dozens or even hundreds of systems could put a business on hold for days or even weeks.

In the case of Locky, one report estimates a group of hackers earning somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 Million in  single month! Software developers building these attacks may be earning up to $100,000/month!  This is big business and it’s not going away.

So What Should You Be Doing?

First, understand that basic firewalls and anti-virus software are not stopping these attacks. So you can continue to say things like, “My clients are too small to pay for more security,” or you can get real with them and let them know they can afford to take the risk. Like buying life insurance or equipping their homes with updated alarms, they may choose not to. As long as you’re making the right recommendations, you’ve done your part.

Second, start looking into “Detection” technologies – security technology that detects. FireEye was early to the market with sandbox technology, but today, there are similar solutions built and priced for almost any size business.

Finally – backups are still your fall back plan. I’m always amazed to see how many small businesses continue to limp along with outdated back up technology…they claim it’s just too expensive to upgrade. If you’ve read, The House & The Cloud – you know why. Without the Impact vs. Likelihood graph sitting in front of them, they don’t understand their risk. Without that, how can they make a decision to spend more? They can’t.

© 2016, David Stelzl