The easiest way in the door to a new client is to offer something they don’t have and assuages a fear. The two biggest fear-factors in SMB IT are continuity and security breaches. Selling managed AV and other security add-ons is a good vector to consider when approaching a new client.
Managed AV – Most managed AV can be sold against off-the-shelf AV by simply pointing out the following…
– Monitored solution – every endpoint is monitored to ensure that scans and updates are being done and that the AV software is actually running. Off-the-shelf software can’t do this.
– Reports can be sent for compliance requirements
– Same price or just a little more than off-the-shelf
Managed Web Protection – AV is based on signatures and heuristics, Web Protection considers the source and helps keep employees (and kids) out of the dark places on the internet. Point out the following bullet points to your client…
– Additional (and different) layer of protection to AV
– Monitor employee web usage for risk and waste
Security Focused Monitoring – In addition to AV and Web Protection, there are monitoring pieces that can be put into place to alert when abnormal activity happens. Some examples are…
– Failed Login Checks – When too many login attempts are made against a device
– Open Ports – Check specific ports to make sure they aren’t open if they should be closed (i.e. RDP – 3389)
– Event Log Checks – See this article from MS for a list to choose from: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn535498.aspx
So how to I approach a customer initially? My suggestion would be a non-invasive security audit. The simplest audit would contain, at minimum, the list below. In most small businesses I approached who were not working with an MSP, I could find something in one of these three to create doubt in their mind about security.
Open Port Scan
Endpoint AV – Vendor, version, defs up-to-date, last scan date < 30 days
Wireless Security – WPA2 encryption, separate network for guest devices
I know that seems over simplified but you would be surprised how well it works. Obviously, if they will let you do a more thorough audit then go ahead. I stress the non-invasive audit because they don’t necessarily trust you yet. You have heard before that sales is a series of steps and the easier you make those steps, and the less barriers you put up, the easier it is to move the prospect towards a purchasing decision. The purpose of the audit is to find doubt not to be exhaustive. Complete security audits are time intensive and should be charged for.
It occurred to me this morning that there are many MSP’s still struggling to get into a managed services model. There are a large number of you who are managing less than 250 devices and trying to reach the next level. I know I have told my story before so I will not re-tell it here. The important part is that I started from 1 client with 35 workstations and 1 server. I also started using Hound Dog (GFI MAX > LogicNow) and a PSA within 6 months of starting that business. I had the same challenges all of you do and here is my best advice… Continue reading Just One (More) Thing – Growing Your MSP Incrementally→
2015 is quickly coming to a close and there will be many sentimental tributes to the year just past and a multitude of posts offering advice for the year ahead. When I owned my MSP I usually took this week between Christmas and New Years to regroup, realign and plot a course for the next year. The last two holiday seasons I have not had to do that. Instead I try to reflect back on all the things I have to be thankful for and take stock in my mistakes so that I might do better in the coming year.
This year my team has grown from 4 to 8 and we are growing and evolving with the rest of the company. It is a fun challenge and I truly enjoy working with the best sales engineering team in the channel. It has meant a lot of work and travel this year (I destroyed at least two pieces of luggage). It has meant a lot of work for my wife and in spite of that she still bought me new luggage for Christmas (talk about being supportive!)
Speaking of family, the kids are getting older and I am realizing I have less and less time before they are ready to move on. I could not be more proud of my children even though it may not seem that way when I am “correcting” them. And I have to give another shout out to my wife, for making a decision nearly 15 years ago to homeschool our children. It has made all the difference.
As for all of you who read this, thank you for letting me share my experiences, tips and how-to’s. I hope you find them useful. I truly enjoy doing this blog and being part of the channel community.
Whatever your annual “week-between” ritual, make the most of it. Spend it on “Important but not Urgent” areas of your life that we so often get distracted from in favor of the “Important AND Urgent”. As for me, I will be trying to teach as many of my four children, who will listen, to learn Autodesk 123D so that they can create their own works of art with new 3D printer (thanks Santa)!
“Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right.” – Peter Drucker
All the effort in the world won’t make up for going the wrong direction. If I want to go to Florida from North Carolina I have to go south. Any other trajectory will lead me to the wrong destination. Planning is something we all have to do in our business and personal lives. Here are some of the things I use to stay on plan.
Tips for Continuous Planning
Make a Plan – it may seem obvious but if you don’t have an end in mind, all the planning in the world won’t help. Make a plan, in detail, and write it down.
Schedule Regular Review – The shorter the time to the goal, the more often you need to review your plan and progress. A quarterly goal needs weekly review, a yearly goal requires monthly review, etc.
Measure Twice – just like the milestones of the Roman empire, we need to set milestones or waypoints to know two things: are we going in the right direction and how long until we get there. Set a few KPI’s that will measure trajectory and velocity so that you know how well you are doing against your plan.
Review with Others – employees, customers and vendors all have a unique perspective that you don’t. It doesn’t have to be a formal meeting, but ask some pertinent questions to make sure others see you going in the direction you want.
“What gets measured gets improved.”
– Peter Drucker
One of the most valuable lessons I learned as a business owner was that even though I was running the day to day operations of my business and knew everything that was going on, I did not grow significantly until I started to actually measure what I was doing. KPI’s are not just some fancy acronym reserved for large scale enterprise, they are Key Performance Indicators. What is key to you is probably different from what is key to another MSP but there should also be similarities. The most important things is to have them.
I boiled my KPI’s down to two categories, security and change. Security based KPI’s made sure that I stayed within my operational safety zone and change based KPI’s allowed me to see if I was headed along the trajectory of where I wanted to be next.
Examples of simple financial based KPI’s can be:
Monthly minimum billings (cash flow)
Cash on hand (your bank balance)
Budget vs. Actual Expenses (cash flow)
Examples of simple change based KPI’s are:
New customers (sales)
Monthly billings % growth (sales)
Employee billable hours (efficiency)
Your KPI’s depend on your focus, what makes you feel safe and where you want to take your business. You can get fancy with KPI’s but I suggest you don’t. The first step is to determine 2 or 3 from both categories and concentrate on those for at least three months. After three months you will undoubtedly have gleaned some additional insight into what KPI’s are right for you and your business. Some KPI’s make obvious sense and some need to be tested, there is no harm in trying to measurements. Some KPI’s should be looked at weekly and some monthly, this will vary from business to business. Keeping an eye in them will help you to react faster to both downturns and opportunities, minimizing risk and maximizing return.
Even if you are a one-man shop, measurement is critical to obtaining the success and stability you want from your business. It is very easy to say “I paid all the bills this month, we must be OK” and carry on. That attitude allows for little to no growth will not help you prepare for market downturns.
Measurement is critical for reaching goals, both personal and professional. If we don’t know where we are or where we are going how do we ever expect to get there.
If you have not seen it, MAX RM now has a search function on the dashboard. It is a relatively simple idea that makes much needed bulk action capability a reality in the dashboard now. For a quick peek at how to us it, simply watch this short video.
I had the pleasure this year of being at not one but two MAX 2015 conferences. During my years as a MAX customer, I had the pleasure of not only attending but also speaking at the first two US conferences. This year, my second as an employee at LogicNow, I had the new experience of attending and speaking at the MAX 2015 UK conference.
The content at both was top notch and the headliner for both was LogicCards. From discussions I have had with many of you; some get it and some aren’t sure. I think what everyone needs to know about them is that they are important and evolving. Like many of the groundbreaking technologies we use everyday, LogicCards are based on big data. Piles and piles of data can be mined for relevant pieces and those relevant pieces of data come together to give us insights, warnings and solutions to our daily tasks. LogicCards does the same for your MAX RM Dashboard.
Now I did not write this to impress you with the current state of LogicCards but to impress upon you the importance of what it will be. I have had the privilege of working with the data team on several LogicCards and there are more coming all the time. As the data and the insights evolve so will LogicCards. Right now, LC’s are helpful. What they will evolve into is essential. At the rate of change in IT, we will need – not want, the analytics and machine learning that LC’s will provide. MSP’s will need them to stay ahead of threats and maintain stability for their clients’ systems.
The bottom line here is that big data is behind the some of the most exciting developments happening around us. LogicCards is that development for the IT industry.
“The crime which bankrupts men and nations is that of turning aside from one’s main purpose to serve a job here and there.”