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Selling SMBs: How to Be a Confident Cybersecurity Partner

Channel partners can forge lasting relationships from supplying cybersecurity expertise and staff education.

January 23, 2023

5 Min Read
Cybersecurity partnership
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By Guy Moskowitz

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Guy Moskowitz

Small and medium-sized businesses often find it challenging to develop a comprehensive cybersecurity practice due to insufficient in-house expertise and waning budgets. And, since they don’t have the resources to implement strong security processes, they’ve become ripe targets for cybercriminals.

A recent report found that 76% of all SMBs said they were “negatively impacted” by cybersecurity attacks in 2022, up from 62% in 2021 and 55% in 2020. Our own research shows that a midmarket company with 1,000 employees is attacked 56,000 to 86,000 times per year, or roughly five to seven threats per employee per month.

The good news? MSPs and managed security service providers (MSSPs) are the perfect solution for small and midmarket companies who realize they need to do something about cybersecurity, but don’t know where to begin. In fact, nearly 60% of SMBs in the U.S. turn to third parties to manage their cybersecurity efforts, and demand for these providers is only growing amid increased cyber threats and economic uncertainty.

The SMB Opportunity

The global SMB segment is made up of more than 400 million companies representing a $610 billion IT spend. With 75% of SMBs eager to invest in new technology, this market presents a huge opportunity for channel partners. So how can MSPs and MSSPs position themselves for success? MSPs should strongly consider adding cybersecurity offerings that are easy to manage to their IT services portfolios, and MSSPs should evaluate ways to scale their services to better meet the needs of smaller organizations.

When times are tough, cybercriminals look for any chance to make a quick buck. Businesses are also forced to re-evaluate their tech spend and look for ways to reduce costs. But SMBs realize that they can’t just do nothing when it comes to cybersecurity because a potential attack could put them out of business. Instead of hiring the skills in-house or taking time out of their already stretched days to research, implement and manage technology, SMBs are increasingly turning to outside resources to run their cybersecurity as cost effectively as possible.

When it comes to cybersecurity, SMBs have three main concerns: keeping up with the latest cybersecurity threats (54%), staying abreast of the latest cybersecurity strategies and technologies (50%), and the impact their budget limitations will have on security (49%). If MSPs and MSSPs can properly address these concerns, they will be in a strong position. Indeed, the foundation is already laid, with 22% of SMBs admitting that outsourcing could help reduce their security costs.

Do’s & Don’ts for Growing Your SMB Cybersecurity Offering

For many SMBs, the concept of outsourcing their cybersecurity sounds logical. After all, it can save hundreds of thousands of dollars that might go toward hiring an in-house CISO or security team and can take the guesswork out of which technologies to deploy or what the latest threats are. However, SMB relationships are challenging for MSSPs because the complex tech stack they’ve built is made up of expensive enterprise software and requires expertise in running it day-to-day. The cost per user ends up being a lot more than a small organization can afford. And since MSPs might not have a strong cybersecurity offering to begin with, they’re missing out on a key market.

Here are steps that can help tailor your cybersecurity services to …

… the SMB customer:

  1. Don’t overwhelm the SMB customer with too many options: While big enterprises won’t bat an eye at multiple cybersecurity solutions, SMBs want to know where their money is going and will be overwhelmed by too many options. MSPs and MSSPs shouldn’t try to build everything internally but should tap expert partners and vendors to ensure the solution is solid. These modern platforms address the cybersecurity needs of smaller organizations within a single pane of glass, at a reasonable per-user cost. They also leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to offload a lot of tasks, reducing the workload by 90%, which translates to further cost savings for SMBs.

  2. Do keep the SMB customer in the loop: SMBs are more acutely aware of their investments than their larger counterparts, and want to know what is going on with their cybersecurity strategies and tech. Partners that keep the dialogue open will forge stronger, longer-lasting relationships.

  3. Don’t forget about training: MSPs and MSSPs can add value if they offer security awareness training as part of their SMB offering. Technology can help prevent and mitigate attacks, but any sound cybersecurity policy starts with the people. SMBs need to be educated about what a phishing scam looks like, how to manage passwords and what to do if they suspect that sensitive data has been exposed.

  4. Do show that you’re a true cybersecurity leader and partner: SMBs are looking for a true partner and expert since they don’t have the ability to add this skill in-house. And, they prefer to work with one partner for all their security needs as it saves money, provides a single point of contact and keeps implementations simple. SMBs will evaluate MSPs or MSSPs based on three core areas: the types of security solutions offered, the range of expertise and capabilities, and arrangements that are flexible and customizable. SMBs will look for a partner that considers the entire threat or attack surface (not just the end points) and delivers adequate protection, offers 24/7 monitoring and guaranteed response times, and who works with only the best vendors themselves. Customer service, reviews and flexible service-level agreements (SLAs) will all be important factors to the SMB customer.

Without a cybersecurity team, the right tools and an ability to stay current on the latest threats, SMBs are prone to attacks. Thankfully, MSPs and MSSPs can bring a lot to the table when it comes to outsourced cybersecurity for SMBs. Beyond being skilled experts who can efficiently and cost-effectively deliver cybersecurity solutions, they can also help manage complex business processes and handle compliance requirements. By keeping a few key considerations in mind, both MSPs and MSSPs can create winning SMB cybersec strategies and gain momentum with this growing segment.

Guy Moskowitz is the co-founder and CEO of Coro. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @coro_cyber.

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