N-able Launches Midmarket MSP Partner Program
How can managed service providers (MSPs) successfully target midmarket customers that have internal IT departments? The answer to that question depends on whom you ask. I'm raising the issue today because N-able Technologies is the latest MSP software provider to launch a midmarket push. And unlike some rival moves, N-able's strategy is all channel, all the time. Here's where MSPs fit in the picture, along with several other midmarket MSP trends.
According to an N-able press release hitting the wires today:
As part of the program, participating partners earn a significant upfront fee for reselling N-central while also building new recurring revenues. These partners also gain access to valuable in-bound business leads that have been pre-qualified by N-able’s sales team and can receive additional sales commissions on deals they bring to the table.
N-able has been piecing together the Midmarket Partner Program for several months. In fact, the company was brainstorming about its midmarket strategy during the N-able Partner Summit in October 2008.
Mike Cullen, VP of sales at N-able, hinted at the event that the company was funneling midmarket sales leads to MSPs. He also vowed to ensure N-able would route all inbound midmarket customer leads to channel partners. Translation: N-able would not pursue a midmarket direct sales strategy.
More recently, N-able’s sales team field-tested the N-able Midmarket Partner Program with a number of MSP Elite Partners (N-able's top customers) including All Connected, IT Authorities and Precision IT, according to today's N-able press release.
I will check in with those companies get their perspectives on the program.
Same Market, Different Approaches
Multiple MSP software providers are pushing into the midmarket, but their business strategies vary greatly from company to company. A sampling of approaches:
- Autotask, which specializes in IT services automation and professional services automation (PSA) software, has launched a tool called Taskfire. It's designed to help MSPs coordinate service tickets and other tasks involving internal IT departments. Taskfire is part of Autotask's SaaS (software as a service) platform for MSPs.
- Dell recently launched ProManage – Managed Services, a national managed services push that blankets the United States. Some folks consider this a pure direct sales play to businesses of all sizes. But the managed services effort includes recurring revenue for participating resellers and MSPs. Also, MSPs can still leverage Dell's Silverback software on their own.
- Kaseya has openly stated that it doesn’t plan to sell directly into small businesses (organizations with 1 to 100 seats). The small business market, in other words, is wide open to Kaseya’s MSPs. But once you get into the mid-market and large enterprises, Kaseya does intend to sell directly to customers — meaning that MSPs may run into Kaseya’s sales force on some larger deals. I will seek an update during the Kaseya Connect User Conference 2009 (May 26-28, Las Vegas).
- Who did I miss? Actually, there are numerous players to consider in the MSP software market. The examples listed above are based on info I knew off the top of my head. If you're aware of additional midmarket MSP partner strategies please feel free to share them in the comment area.
To the best of my knowledge (how's that for a hedge?), N-able is one of the few MSP-oriented software companies that has definitively stated it won't pursue direct sales in the midmarket. Ingram Micro Seismic has also vowed not to compete with its MSPs and VARs. If you have other examples, please share them.
Still, I think heated competition between IT vendors and MSPs will be unavoidable in selected market segments. Over the next two to three years, I expect the vast majority of major IT vendors to offer SaaS-oriented services directly to their midmarket and large customers.
The reason: The temptation to behave like Salesforce.com, the poster child for lucrative direct-to-customer SaaS growth, is simply too great for most software providers to ignore.
As a result, MSPs will need to work extra hard building, maintaining and promoting their brands and their unique selling propositions. And in some rare cases, they can partner up with MSP software providers that vow not to sell direct.