N-able CEO Urges MSPs to Be More Strategic

Many top MSPs aren’t focused enough on sales and marketing for new customer acquisition, said John Pagliuca.

Craig Galbraith, Editorial Director

May 17, 2023

4 Min Read
Strategy advice for the N-able MSP from the CEO.

N-able CEO John Pagliuca has urged MSPs to “be more intentional” with their business plans. Many of the company’s top MSPs aren’t focused on sales and marketing for new customer acquisition, he said.

Pagliuca was speaking to Channel Futures ahead of its N-able Empower event in Prague, Czech Republic last week.


N-able’s John Pagliuca

“When you talk to an N-able MSP, they usually have an idea of what kind of business they want to be, and maybe they might even have a mission. Rarely does an MSP have a strategy on how they’re going to win,” he said.

In fact, while MSPs might have carved out a niche in a particular vertical, it is often through chance, said Pagliuca.

“I refer to that as an emerging strategy; it’s one that emerges for you, and you just grab it, which is fine as you begin. But now as the MSP market matures, that emerging strategy will begin to have short legs. MSPs need to be intentional and strategic as to how they want to grow that next layer for their business,” he said.

MSPs: More Evangelists than Car Salespeople

Being intentional means more resources dedicated to sales and marketing, said Pagliuca.

“I was just with 65 MSPs in Austin, Texas, in April. The question was, ‘How many of you have a sales team?’ These are some of our upper quartile MSPs. They have anywhere from, $5 million of turnover to maybe $120 million of turnover. Less than 25% of them had a sales force. That’s OK, if they’re intentional, and they want to grow their business by expanding the offerings to their existing customer base. But if you want to accelerate that new customer acquisition motion, you need to be intentional about your marketing plan and your sales plan.”

Pagliuca said N-able was helping with a marketing program called MarketBuilder. MSPs can put in their logo and leverage the vendor’s collateral to market their business to attract more customers.

“It’s a mindset shift. MSPs need to not look at it as some type of sale. They’re not a car salesman; they’re more of an evangelist of what technology can do and they are that shepherd for SMEs. If they take that mindset, that approach, they’ll find it a little bit friendlier.”

3 Focus Areas for the N-able MSP: Cybersecurity, Cloud, Automation

The CEO said there are three areas on which an N-able MSP should focus with intent.

The first is cybersecurity risk and compliance.

“Regulatory and compliance issues are driving a lot of what SMEs need to do. The security conversation has shifted from of being risk and not being ‘pwned’ or hacked, to being compliant to service my customers, to service the industry that I’m in. That compliance issue is a huge tailwind for [MSPs], while it might be a headwind for some of their customers. So, they need to be intentional there.”

The second focus area is the move to cloud.

“We see MSPs there at some point in their journey as far as helping their customers move to the cloud. It could be their Windows software, it could be where their data lives, it could be where their servers are. In some of them, again, it’s more of an emerging strategy. The customer is pulling them. One of my messages is: Be intentional about moving your customers to the cloud. It’s a financial windfall for you in that transformational process. Then it creates a nice recurring revenue stream as you help your customers on the cloud. It makes them safer; it makes them more efficient; it brings down their cost. But MSPs need to be intentional in that.”

The last area is automation — for both the N-able MSP and its customers.

ChatGPT is all the buzz. AI is a principle that’s been around for a long time in the MSP community. We’ve had automation and PowerShell and scripting in our products for decades. That is about having MSPs using their machines, providing an automation script so they can get out of the mundane tasks. That’s getting to a whole another level now. And MSPs need to be intentional and strategic about how they want to use this technology to up-level their game and drive efficiency in their business.”

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Christine Horton or connect with her on LinkedIn.


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About the Author(s)

Craig Galbraith

Editorial Director, Channel Futures

Craig Galbraith is the editorial director for Channel Futures, joining the team in 2008. Before that, he spent more than 11 years as an anchor, reporter and managing editor in television newsrooms in North Dakota and Washington state. Craig is a proud Husky, having graduated from the University of Washington. He makes his home in the Phoenix area.

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