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What It Takes to Be an MSP 501erWhat It Takes to Be an MSP 501er

Hear from three MSP 501 Special Award Winners about what it takes to excel in managed services today.

Kris Blackmon

August 23, 2019

4 Min Read
Which 2014 Talkin' Cloud 100 honorees climbed up this year's Talkin' Cloud 100 Here's a closer look at seven of the biggest risers on this year's
Which 2014 Talkin' Cloud 100 honorees climbed up this year's Talkin' Cloud 100? Here's a closer look at seven of the biggest risers on this year's Talkin' Cloud 100.Shutterstock

Every year, managed service providers (MSPs) from around the globe compete to earn a spot in the prestigious MSP 501 worldwide rankings. The 501 companies on the annual list from Channel Futures represent the best and brightest that the channel has to offer. They’re willing to take risks, agile enough to respond to business challenges and laser-focused on customer success.

The 20's Tim Conkle

The 20’s Tim Conkle

They also have an intimate knowledge of the IT channel and the managed service provider business model, and the savvy to jump on trends before they become old news. At Channel Partners Evolution in Washington., D.C., Sept 9-12, attendees will have a chance to hear firsthand what it takes to be a 501 winner. MSP guru Tim Conkle, CEO of the MSP Roland Tech as well as CEO of MSP consortium The 20, will lead a discussion with three of the 2019 MSP 501 Special Award winners about how to succeed in today’s managed services market. “MSP 501: What Makes a Winner,” delivered from the keynote stage, will ask: What are the best practices that make an MSP rise to the top? How can partners overcome obstacles to growth? What trends and opportunities should partners be capitalizing on in today’s market?

Panelists include Julian Box, CEO of Calligo; David Carlson, VP, managed service and product management, Sirius; and David DeCamillis, VP of sales and marketing for Platte River Networks.

We sat down with Conkle to get a sneak peek at what the session has in store.

Channel Futures: What is the biggest challenge facing MSPs today, and how do best-in-class partners handle it?

Tim Conkle: Lead gen. According to Datto’s latest report, 33% of MSPs struggle with revenue generation. Most MSP owners don’t fully understand marketing, and they underestimate its importance. Marketing, done correctly, is high-impact, shortens the sales cycle, and drives the business. An engine without gas never runs. Marketing is the fuel. Only MSPs that actively market will create sustainable growth. Best-in-class partners make marketing a top priority and invest resources accordingly, with the understanding that you’re never finished. In my experience, you might try six things that don’t work before you find one that does.

Hear from Conkle and dozens of other top industry speakers at Channel Partners Evolution, Sept. 9-12, in Washington, D.C. Register now!

CF: In your opinion, what is the most critical thing that highly successful MSPs do that their competitors don’t?

TC: Don’t be an island. Join forces with other MSPs. Using the power of partnerships to gain exposure and utilize new channels is not only smart but also an essential marketing tool for MSPs who want to remain competitive in today’s constantly changing marketplace. Strategic partnerships – for example, peer groups – are a crucial part of business development and growth because they can strengthen the weaker aspects of your MSP business, so you can grow and expand in a way that would have been impossible …

… on your own. Partnering with a formidable force like The 20 gives MSPs a major competitive advantage, enabling them to take their business to a whole new level. Partnering also eases the financial burden, making new strategies more attainable.

CF: How do successful MSPs approach recruiting, hiring, developing and retaining talent in this tight skills market?

TC: Inbound recruiting. Most corporate recruiters take a reactive approach to candidates, only reaching out to individuals who apply directly with their company. Effective MSP recruiting strategies are more proactive and develop an active pipeline of candidates ready to go. This helps cut down on time to fill for both growth and backfill roles. Not only does this help keep a healthy pipeline of open candidates, but it gives MSPs the ability to connect with the individuals best suited for their open roles. By utilizing passive candidate sourcing, MSPs can be much more successful in recruiting top talent. The initial outreach helps get in people that you want in the seat, as opposed to filling it with just anybody that can do the job.

CF: How does company culture play into an MSPs success — or lack thereof?

TC: Employee retention is crucial to MSP success. The best and easiest way to keep employees is hiring good culture fits. The heart of your company is your employee base. When you hire the right people, and all those people are sitting in the right seats within the company, you’ve got your strongest defense mechanism. Employees want to work where they are happy. Now more than ever, people are realizing that more of their day is spent at work than at home. With that, they want to feel like their purpose is fulfilled and they are appreciated.

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About the Author(s)

Kris Blackmon

Head of Channel Communities, Zift Solutions

Kris Blackmon is head of channel communities at Zift Solutions. She previously worked as chief channel officer at JS Group, and as senior content director at Informa Tech and project director of the MSP 501er Community. Blackmon is chair of CompTIA's Channel Development Advisory Council and operates KB Consulting. You may follow her on LinkedIn and @zift on X.

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