“Seismic” Events in IT Services


The Top Four Things Your MSP Doesn’t Want You To Know by Justin Crotty

There is widespread agreement that managed services is an IT service delivery model that is here to stay.  As with any other relatively new market, the SMB managed service space is highly fragmented with hundreds of existing application and service vendors and just as many new entrants to the industry competing for solution providers’ mind-and- market share.

A decade ago during the boom and bust of the dot com era, a similar landscape presented itself to IT solution providers.  Many businesses made emotional or hurried decisions when it came to vendor and partner selection.  Some businesses were swept away by fancy marketing, messaging, and branding campaigns by new entrants and fly-by-night dot-com companies.  The results of many of those decisions are well documented.

The same caution and logic must be applied in todays highly fragmented, early stage managed services market.  Many MSP’s, application providers, and service providers may not be what they appear or what their websites, blogs, and press releases claim.  Because most of these early stage companies are privately held, it is hard to get detailed information about them to help you make buying decisions and partnership selections.  Future success, stability, longevity, and financial solvency for these small players and new entrants may be challenging or downright bleak – and their management teams know it. 

Here are four things those management teams may not want you to know about their operations:

4.  I Run My Company with 3 People Out of a Van Down by The River

Small is no indictment of quality or financial stability.  However, it pays to be diligent when making MSP provider or partnership selections.  Does the potential provider or partner have a sustainable business model?  Can they demonstrate financial solvency?  Are they capitalized appropriately to grow as you grow?  Can they support your needs long-term?  Look under the hood and ask questions about how their business is built.  If they refuse to answer your questions or provide vague answers, steer clear.  They aren’t being specific because they know you won’t like the answers.

3.  The Only Metric I Care About is My Revenue Multiple

There is certainly no crime in building a business to one day reap the rewards when you sell or merge that business.  However, when the revenue multiple is more important than product quality, good support, or solid operating methodologies, that can cause problems for clients and partners.  Again, ask some tough questions.  How is the company financed?  Who holds ownership positions – employees and owners or VC’s and private equity people?  The answers will give you some indication of the time horizon that business is operating under.  Beware of short-term thinkers and the churn-and-burn operators.  Your best interests are secondary to theirs.

2.  I’m A Solution Provider Just Like You (aka I Sell to End Users Too)

As a distributor, I get asked about selling to end-users every day by solution providers who are concerned that Ingram Micro will take their end-users direct.  Yet those same solution providers have no qualms about doing business with MSP organizations that openly sell to end-customers.  Those MSP organizations may even use the fact that they have end-user sales experience as a selling point in their messaging to attract solution providers as customers.  If your partners and suppliers sell to end-users, they pose a potential competitive problem for you.  Proceed with caution.

1.  I Offer You Little Long-Term Value as a Partner

Do your homework.  Look for substance beyond the bootcamp, blog, or white paper.  Separate the spin from the reality.  What does the potential partner offer you in terms of competitive advantage, long-term defendable value, or scale?  How do they make your company better?  How do they make you look bigger?  How do they augment your capabilities?  What can they help you achieve that you cannot achieve on your own or with anyone else?  What is unique, lasting, or significant about their value proposition to you?

These are uncharted waters.  Don’t navigate them alone.  Call us to talk shop and help you make the difficult decisions critical to your success.  www.ingrammicro.com/seismic

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MSPs Bullish and Investing in Demand Generation by Jason Beal / Ingram Micro
July 18, 2008, 10:21 am
Filed under: Ingram Micro, Managed Services, People | Tags: , ,

In the last month I’ve met with three solution providers from different regions of the country (Southern California, Arizona, and Minnesota) who are all very bullish about building their managed services business.  All three are very optimistic about their prospects of significantly growing the number of end-customers on managed services contracts.  Coincidently all three solution providers quoted me the same metric that they were shooting for: to triple the number of end-users on managed services.  Two partners wanted to accomplish this goal in twelve months while the other partner was shooting for eighteen months.  These partners current have between 18 and 42 clients on managed services agreements.

 

In order to accomplish this goal the three partners had plans to invest in aggressive demand generation programs.  While solution providers have traditionally been reluctant to spend dollars on marketing and lead-generation programs, a new breed of confident, aggressive, and marketing-savvy managed service providers is emerging.  These MSPs are focused on customer acquisition and are investing dollars via traditional marketing techniques as well as via on-line, viral marketing avenues.

 

Theses partner believe in the MSP model, have properly ‘merchandized’ their managed services offering, have trained a portion of their sales team to effectively position managed service value proposition to customers, and have developed the efficient operations to profitably scale their managed services practice. They are confident that investment in marketing and lead-gen will yield a healthy return and allow them to quickly build their business. 

 

The managed services land grab and gold rush is on.  MSPs are starting to aggressively market their managed services in their local areas; others are acquiring solution providers in order to flip their customers bases to managed services, while others are opening remote offices to grow their customer bases. Now is the time for solution providers to invest in marketing and demand generation programs to grow the business.