Want a quick way to increase your revenue stream?
Master agencies and distributors have lots of advice for MSPs and agents looking to add services and increase their value-add to customers, through cloud services, disaster recovery, the Internet of Things (IoT) and more.
We polled reps from such big names as Intelisys, Ingram Micro, WTG, TBI and more to get suggestions for adding on and cashing in.
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Intelisys provides the following recommendations:
“It is easy for MSPs and agents to add cloud faxing (enterprise messaging), failover circuits, mobile data and conferencing because most of these services are not in competition with the services they sell to their clients today,” he said. “It’s really a very natural conversation to have with customers, and the MSP or agent simply can ask a few simple questions about what the customer is currently doing to address these areas in order to make the connection for the customer as to how they can benefit from these services. Ask the questions. If the customer can benefit from these services, they are going to buy them from someone.”
These types of services are very profitable for MSPs and agents because they mean revenue realized, in addition to any revenue they already are receiving, Hartman said.
Jason Bystrak, executive director of the Americas for Ingram Micro Cloud, suggests adding the following services: hosted email plus migration/implementation services; hosted backup plus disaster-recovery services; and hosted security/endpoint protection plus security-assessment services.
“Note the real key is to bundle professional and managed services around the cloud product,” he said. “Those are our top three solutions where partners are killing it.”
Greg Richey, Ingram Micro’s director of professional services, suggests security assessments, saying “every business is vulnerable, and if you aren’t installing it, someone else is.” He also recommends selling training, saying “every customer needs it and you can make money selling it.”
“Companies are looking to integrate ‘smart devices’ into their operations to become more efficient and cost-effective,” he said. “For example, utility companies have been installing ‘smart meters’ which send the meter readings wirelessly back to them. This opens their network up to intrusion which could put customer information at risk.”
Other recommendations include equipment maintenance, such as Cisco Smartnet replacement, and energy SaaS — building controls (ie- HVAC) in the cloud.
“In the second half of the refresh cycle there is an opportunity to save customers up to 60 percent off of Smartnet as well as extending the life of the equipment by two years,” Bradley said. “There are big commissions available to MSPs and agents alike.”
Curt Allen, Sandler Partners’ president of channel, said while pure cloud computing of any scale is complex and requires specific skills and understanding, “services like hosted email, Office 365, backup as a service (BUaaS) and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) are much more attainable for our MSP base, as well as our traditional carrier services agents.”
“We offer our partners resources internally to help them develop these solutions and make them part of their practice,” he said. “The benefits for the partner go beyond the commissions revenue that comes directly from these sales; we are hearing from our partners that having these conversations has helped them evolve as trusted advisers into new areas of their customers’ businesses and even has opened the door to prospects they could not reach with their traditional offerings.”
Corey Cohen, TBI’s director of marketing, says the easiest money for MSPs is to offer dedicated cloud connections since most customers already have workloads in the major cloud-provider environments and are obligated to ensure a favorable end-user experience with these applications.
“Cloud connections like AT&T’s NetBond and Verizon’s Secure Cloud Interconnect simplify management of connecting to workloads across multiple cloud providers, affix quality of service to each individual application, and provide dynamic bandwidth as application usage expands and contracts,” she said.
The second easiest money for MSPs would be disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), Cohen said. The catch with DRaaS is ensuring the MSP aligns with their customer’s leadership beyond the IT department, as the overwhelming majority of DRaaS opportunities do not close unless budgeting was approved before the quoting process began, she said.
“Endpoint security solutions and cloud-migration services (including O365 migration) can be beneficial but will widely vary based on the size and maturity of the MSP,” Cohen said. “Larger MSPs will consider those solutions a core competency, while smaller MSPs will leverage these vendors to rapidly expand their capabilities to meet customers’ expanding needs.”
“It’s interesting most of our MSPs are selling hosted voice into their existing customers,” she said. “It is not what I would feel is easy money but it is how most of them are starting to sell cloud services. We have had a few sell hosted exchange or Google Apps, but it has not been a big seller. I am not really sure what would be ‘easy money’ except for adding cable or wireless for diversification and a backup. It is easy money but not really big money.”
We thought we’d ask the industry experts at CompTIA as well.
Today, end user organizations of all sizes, from SMBs to enterprises, want MSPs that can deliver advanced services, such as cloud infrastructure management, application management, and even business process outsourcing. This will require technical skills that many of today’s MSPs do not yet have, which means training and/or recruitment of new employees, according to CompTIA.
Judging by the list of services that MSPs currently offer, it seems they have a ways to go before they are active providers of more advanced offerings, the organization said. Security, server management, storage, network management and desktop management are the top five managed services currently in the catalogs of today’s MSPs.
In order to meet the lofty growth expectations, most MSPs will need to expand into more complex types of offerings or specialize in a particular vertical industry or niche market, CompTIA added.
Robert Hayes, eXemplify‘s CEO, says MSPs have the trust of their clients who rely on them to recommend, implement and maintain critical systems and infrastructure. Their clients already are purchasing complementary network and/or cloud services from someone and oftentimes decisions are being made in silos.
“The MSP is well positioned to take a more holistic approach and inquire about a client’s existing network, legacy phone system, security policies and data-center plans, and thereby further strengthening their position as trusted advisor to their clients,” he said. “As an agent, MSPs simply leverage their existing relationships and can add these offerings to their portfolio rather quickly and easily without the high cost of support infrastructure, while also creating a new recurring revenue stream.”