MSP Sales Training Live Blog: CharTec Service Operations Academy

MSP Sales Training Live Blog: CharTec Service Operations Academy

Roughly 130 established and aspiring managed services providers (MSPs) are huddling today at CharTec Service Operations Academy in Bakersfield, Calif. CharTec CEO Alex Rogers described the competitive landscape for MSPs, plus business, sales and marketing strategies. His key takeaway: Simplify your service offerings to two levels -- Platinum and Plastic. Next up, Tim Brewer described how to drive change in your business. Here's a live blog. Check back often. We'll be making updates throughout today.

Recap: CEO Alex Rogers

  • 80 percent of attendees are first-timers. Two attendees are four-timers.
  • "It's kind of like Disney Land here; you can't see it all in one day," he quipped.
  • Figure out who you are competing against. "With RMM and remote management, you're competing with companies outside of your city. Outside your state. And sometimes outside your country."
  • Also, you need to compete against Google and instant gratification of the cloud.
  • How MSPs say they are differentiating: "Fast response times" was the number one response on a notecard write-in form. Rogers' key point: You're not differentiating at all. Focus on faster response times as your differentiator, and you'll wind up selling on price.
  • Rogers started ARRC Technology, his MSP, in 1992.
  • 1995 grew to 6-10 employees performing break-fix.
  • 1996 CompUSA, Gateway, Office Depot, Costco and Price Club moved into Rogers' town and disrupted his business on pricing. That's when Rogers started to put customers under service contracts. At that point he generated a base of about $5,000 recurring revenue dollars per month.
  • 1999 Rogers continued to expand service contracts and had 15 employees.
  • One of his key deals was for $1,500 a month but ARRC was losing money. So ARRC started bundling hardware into the service deals to drive down service tickets.
  • Around 2004, ARRC really started pushing HaaS (hardware as a service) and the business was around 25 employees. But the hardware giveaway meant ARRC would be really stressing its cash flow.
  • In 2007, Rogers invested about $300,000 (not all at once) in managed services training. Not all at once. The goal was not to focus on the free hardware. Instead, he was creating value on the service side. Grew from $60,000 to $250,000 per month in annuities.
  • They are on track to do $10 million with 35 people at ARRC Technology this year.
  • Rogers is pointing MSPs to technology services that few rivals offer -- such as telepresence, video conferencing, digital signage and managed print services.
  • The average managed services engagement is about $2,000 per month. That's $72,000 over three years. "That's the cheapest amount you will get; what about all the project work you will also gain. The $72,000 is a fat-*** retainer."
  • So where do you start: Your offering, sales process, sales presentation, contracts and agreements, client experience (for onboarding), employee experience, vendor experience, ongoing education.
  • "How are you training and educating your team to be self-reliant?"
Then Rogers went into key challenges:
  • Employees: They don't know what to bill for or what not to bill for.
  • Sales: If the client has to choose which service level to buy from you, then you're not offering the right guidance. Tell the customer what they need. ARRC Technologies' approach involves selling Platinum (all in) or a Plastic offering.
  • Platinum needs to speak to the CXOs in your customer base. Figure about $2,500 per month for this. What's the value to each person: CEO, CFO, COO, CMO?
  • Focus on Professional Services: Vendor management, technology business reviews, annual telco audits, technology project management.
  • BDR: "Out of all the things in the world the most important is protecting your clients' data."
  • The Plastic offering should include 24x7 monitoring, patch management, anti-virtus, spam, all yoiu can eat NOC services, BDR. And most of those capabilities can be outsourced. Typically monthly pricing for Plastic: $600.
  • Side note: On pricing, Rogers did not discuss if the Platinum ($2,500) and Plastic ($600) was per office, how many users covered, etc. I'll check with him later for more thoughts.



Recap: Former Australia MSP Tim Brewer, describing how to drive business change
  • Brewer works closely with Heartland Technology Consulting
  • There is $20,000 per hour worth of talent in the room -- learning and sharing knowledge.
  • 2007: Tim's business had 14 employees. Through M&A and organic growth, the company grew to about 215 employees in 2011.
  • To really change as an MSP, you need to understand why you need to change, what do you need to change, how do you change, and why we don't end up changing.
  • To really change you need to spend your time with positive people. Read the right books. Change starts with you, then  you need to lead the change.
  • Brewer said you need to have results to gain credibility, then you can drive change.
  • Brewer shared an emotional video about a triathlete whose son is seriously disabled but lives a happier life than 95 percent of  the population. It's the Dick and Rick Hoyt Story. Brewer's key point: Be a servant leader and a great coach.
So, to lead and drive change, Brewer said:

  • Develop clear, shared goals; good ideas come from everyone.
  • Brewer came up with an acronym called THE CODE. I only caught a few pieces of it: Trust, no hidden agendas, do what we say, execution is everything. I'll ask Tim to potentially post a comment completing the acronym later today.
  • Work from the ground up and engage all staff. Learn to facilitate.
  • Go and lead volunteers. If you can lead volunteers you can lead any team to success because volunteers don't need to be there.
  • Build scaffolding to support the change. The ConnectWise way involves blueprints. Also, invest in partnerships.
  • Key takeaway: Momentum dies when you fail to prioritize.
  • The key questions before making a change: 1) What's the upside. 2) How long is it to implement? 3) How many people need to be involved?



Now, on to a Panel Discussion


  • Phil Claxton, co-founder, DeskDirector -- a desktop and mobile concierge app for the IT service industry.
  • Claxton also leads an MSP in New Zealand.
  • Great Quote: "Customers are paying you to keep their networks and IT services up -- they are not paying you to fix things " -- Alex Rogers
  • Lots of chatter here about automating with your customers, which is where DeskDirector comes in.
  • The solution works with ConnectWise on-premises now, but a version for ConnectWise Cloud is planned.
Thanks for reading. Got a question about what I'm seeing or hearing? Feel free to email me (joe.panettieri [at] penton.com) or post a comment below.

TAGS: Sales
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