By Chris Groot
Those of us in managed services know that backup is of critical importance to businesses around the globe. Each year, natural disasters, security threats such as ransomware and just plain human error result in businesses losing productivity, data and customers. The business case for selling backup to your customers is clear. But many small-to-midsize businesses lack insight into all that’s involved with backup and recovery today and opt to tackle it on their own. Here’s how elite MSPs handle the conversation to win that business:
1. Educate customers on hybrid backup and recovery.
Although a good percentage of businesses still make use of outdated approaches to backup and recovery, organizations are increasingly turning to the cloud to get the job done. In fact, market research firm Parks Associates recently reported that 77 percent of U.S. SMBs now make use of the cloud for storage as well as backup and recovery. Another survey by 451 Research found that IT executives anticipate doubling their spend on cloud storage over the next two years and have indicated that their most important strategic priority is to improve their backup and recovery processes. That’s great news for MSPs.
The challenge is making sure customers actually understand what backup and recovery in the cloud entails. While it’s always a good idea to maintain copies of the data that resides in the cloud, many SMBs don’t appreciate all the steps associated with recovering that data. In reality, without great software in place, it can take days to bring systems back from an outage. This is where a majority of the complexities begin, and it’s where MSPs can provide added value. When disaster hits, the MSP can ensure that there is a clear recovery plan from cloud to site or through virtual recovery in the cloud.
2. Plan: On-premises vs. cloud
It makes sense to store critical data both locally and in the cloud; this is the true hybrid approach. Assuming the local copy outlasts many data-loss scenarios, having it on hand will make it easier to get the applications that do need to reside on premises up and running faster.
Many SMBs eventually decide to replace on-premises applications altogether with cloud services, but the MSP, working with business stakeholders, can gather knowledge of what systems need local copies for quick recovery and which data are not time-sensitive and can wait for a cloud restore. Proactive planning and network monitoring are essential to business continuity, and a conversation about all the variables in play helps customers understand that there’s more to cloud backup and recovery than meets the eye. Each business needs a plan that suits the way it works, and every SMB has different needs. The bottom line is that putting the task in the hands of an experienced MSP will allow clients to sleep better at night, whether their business is in the eye of the storm or miles away.
3. Timing is key.
Being down for even a few days can be a major financial hit for most SMBs. As things return to normal after a major data-loss event, MSPs should engage in conversations with customers about what could have happened — especially while the effects of that event are still fresh in everyone’s minds. Assuming the business is back serving customers, the reality is, it could have been worse.
A structured postmortem process is the best way to prevent the same errors from happening again and overall improving the process. MSPs that serve geographic regions that are more frequently impacted by disasters should make a point to call or email and engage with prospects in a timely manner after a major event — before the need for disaster preparedness moves down the SMB’s agenda once again.
In areas not prone to natural disasters, there is still the constant news of data breaches and ransomware to open the conversation around data protection and recovery.
If a customer has already placed its trust in you for other services, then getting them to add managed backup will be an easier sell. For new prospects, it might take some convincing. Getting your foot in the door requires the right conversation, and the right motivation for the customer to turn over backup and recovery responsibility to you.
Chris Groot is vice president of product strategy at SolarWinds MSP, where his role is focused on supporting the continued growth of the company’s MSP backup and recovery solution for IT solution providers.