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Channel Influencer Spotlight: Datto’s Rob Rae

2018 Channel Influencer

… in the corner of the hotel bar having a one-on-one conversation with an MSP. Rae likes to talk, which is a big part of why he’s such an engaging presence onstage. But he likes to listen more, not only because knowing what Datto’s partners are struggling with helps the company build a better channel program, but because he’s genuinely interested in people over products.

“One of the things vendors aren’t very good at is that when they get an opportunity to talk to an MSP, it’s a ‘speeds and feeds’ dump on the technology. But that’s not what MSPs want or need,” says Rae. “These MSPs understand technologies. They’ve been selling it a lot longer than we’ve been selling our technology.”

Rae doesn’t have to go talk to an MSP about what backup does. They get that. What they need help with is how to position it, how to sell it, how to make money with it and how to market it. Closing that gap is where he shines. He admits he doesn’t know how technology really works. What he does know is how to show MSPs how to make money selling it.

But it’s more than that, as anyone who’s sat down to have a conversation with Rae knows. He’s a genuinely likable fellow, ready to laugh and listen. It’s nigh on impossible to keep your guard too high around Rae, not because he’s such a great salesman, but because he really wants to get to know you.

“People make human decisions. As long as you’ve got technology that works, [who they’re going to buy from is] going to come down to who they like the most,” Rae explains. “You’d better be the nicest guy in the room.”

That’s hard to do in a company like Datto where just about everyone can be classified as nice — but there’s something more to Rae. He knows he learns more from listening than speaking, and if he can get into a conversation with somebody and break down the barrier between “vendor” and “customer,” then he can learn what keeps Datto’s MSPs up at night. He has that conversation, he says, 10,000 times a year with 10,000 different MSPs from all over the globe, finding commonalities among their pain points and asking how he can help. Then he takes those back to his team at Datto and tasks them with finding a new idea, a new spin, a new tool that helps those partners have conversations with their end users.

Rae’s goal is to give MSPs the confidence and messaging to overcome sales objections, not through price-cutting or selling on technology, but by telling business stories that alleviate customers’ hesitations. The managed services market is growing by leaps and bounds, but that opportunity won’t last forever. He wants his partners to take a leap of faith in order to take advantage of that opportunity now.

“I’m actually out there telling MSPs right now to raise their prices. A lot of them are like, ‘You’ve got to be s***tin’ me. People are telling me that I’m too expensive now, and you want me to raise my prices?’” Rae laughs. “Yeah, I am. Now is the time.”

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