Monthly Archives: August 2014

AppRiver logo largerversionArticle contributed by Jim Tyer - EMEA channel director at AppRiver

Cloud has seen the traditional sales model implode. But that doesn’t mean it’s game over – just time to learn new rules...

The way we consume technology has changed so the way we sell technology needs to change too.

Customers want innovative ways to use technology and revolutionise their businesses - to respond to demands from employees sporting the latest laptop, tablet or smartphone; allowing safe connection to the corporate network; while facilitating collaboration between colleagues, third parties and clients.

Thankfully, cloud technology can rise to these challenges. The problem isn’t what cloud can or can’t do, but the impact it has on traditional business models.

How can you stay relevant in a world where customers have easy access to cloud-based solutions ? You need to make yourself invaluable. The key element to staying relevant is ‘value added’ – ultimately your biggest USP, guaranteeing new business and establishing recurrent revenue streams:

Trusted Advisor - hard to earn yet easy to erode

Building trust is simple, yet far too many get this wrong – not just resellers but vendors too!

If a customer calls, call them back. If you offer support via email, have a real person write back confirming receipt of the enquiry and how it will be handled. Similarly, if you say you’re going to do something then do it - or let the customer know you’re trying to.

In tandem, if a customer seeks advice give it freely and without motive, even if it means dissuading them from spending money. You’ll find they’re far more likely to believe, and trust, you next time when they need to invest.

Similarly, don’t cut corners to keep costs down, or worse try to conceal the full expense. No-one likes unpleasant surprises. You might lose a sale initially but, guaranteed, the customer will appreciate your honesty.

Don’t take it personally if a customer buys one product from you, but adds it to something from somewhere else – for example, let’s say a customer wants to use you for spam filtering but decides to go with another web filtering vendor. Though it might hurt financially in the short term, the relationship is what’s important here. Where you make the difference, and win loyalty, is by managing the complete package.

Partners who take this role seriously and are willing to be honest with customers (even if it means a short term loss to build long term trust) will retain a stronger, happier customer base and stay viable for years to come.

Backoffice support – go over and above

This is an area where the ‘organised’ reseller can make a real difference for many organisations – particularly smaller businesses where IT isn’t a specific job function. Subscriptions and licence renewals are easy for a busy manager to overlook, so providing this as a service not only adds value to your offering, but also ensures you guarantee this key revenue stream.

This doesn’t just have to be for the products you’ve sold, and you may not be financially rewarded. Take website domain renewals – even Disney has problems tracking its renewals, almost losing its ‘Club Penguin’ sites in 2011, oops!

Migrations – hand holding as standard

Having made the sale, far too many resellers walk away and leave the customer and vendor to implement the change unaided. This can lead to frustration and even reputational damage – for all involved. Your role is to work seamlessly with vendors so your customer experiences a painless transition.

Supply vendor(s) with an in-depth plan of any existing infrastructure to incorporate into the new design. Identify incompatibilities before implementation so they’re resolved before becoming problematic.

Support your customer by devising a detailed migration plan – including key targets. Use previous intelligence of similar installations to offer advice and support your customer will need, or overlook, to make the move. Share additional literature in good time that other customers found useful.

Supportsomewhere in the world its normal business hours

In an age where business never sleeps – neither can your customer service. Resellers of the future will invest in excellent 24/7 assistance, or partner providers where top-notch technical support is a way of life. Skimp on this and it could greatly damage your reputation, limit renewal rates and ultimately infringe on customer retention.

Training – education is king

It’s a lucrative revenue stream, yet few resellers offer training. Consider investing in your own training department, offering courses to customers teaching them how-to manage the solutions they’ve got, demonstrating how to get the best out of the investment. Who knows, you may even find there’s an opportunity to upsell a complimentary product from your portfolio that makes another product function, or integrate better.

Of course, if you don’t already offer this service it’s not something that can be introduced overnight so for now consider bundling vendor supplied training into the equation.

Adapt or die trying

As resellers, you’re no longer selling boxes and cables – you’re translating the ideals of your customers into reality. Or at least you should be. The reseller of the future will happily rise to the challenge set by customers, anticipating their needs before even they do.

 

 

StorageCraft banner27Jun14 We always like to let you know what’s happening at Blue Solutions, especially when there’s great news from our vendors.  We recently signed a distribution agreement with StorageCraft Technology Corporation, a leading data backup and disaster recovery vendor. Through the new distribution agreement, Blue Solutions becomes a StorageCraft Master MSP and Master Distributor for the United Kingdom.

Our Director and co-founder Mark Charleton commented: "We only work with vendors that we believe have products and services that add competitive advantage to our customers' business. This is most certainly the case with the StorageCraft product range and the flagship ShadowProtect product line. Using our in-house product experts and team of passionate staff we will actively recruit new resellers, incentivise, train and support them long-term. The StorageCraft partner program is a very attractive one -- no fees to sign up, NFR software, training, marketing incentives, etc. -- and we will provide all the support, training and marketing collateral for resellers to take out to end-user customers”.

You can read the full press release on our website

We’ll bring you more news about StorageCraft products in the coming weeks and if you want to know more about their data backup and disaster recovery solution, watch the video below:

 

Call our product specialists on 0118 9898 222 for help with any questions about StorageCraft and how it can help you build your business.

StorageCraft banner27Jun14

A lack of time and tight budgets isn’t something new to MSPs. When you’ve got to migrate physical systems to new Hyper-V Servers and stay on schedule without blowing the budget, where do you start?

With StorageCraft ShadowProtect IT Edition, you can backup and restore an unlimited number of machines. It’s a standalone tool for IT professionals that enables you to back up and recover any Windows server, desktop, or laptop—even Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 machines. Without installing any software on existing systems, you can take full backup images of the servers and restore those images to Hyper-V clients.

These Hyper-V clients are exact copies of the original physical systems and can be tested and run in parallel until the moment that you decide to cut over from the physical to the virtual systems.

ShadowProtect IT Edition is portable so you don’t have to install any software to use it. You’ll receive the software preloaded onto a USB key so that you can back up or restore a machine.

Subscription model

As it is a unique subscription-based model, ShadowProtect IT Edition lets you back up and recover an unlimited number of servers, desktops, and laptops for the duration of your subscription. Subscribe for two weeks, one month, three months, or a year—it’s up to you. Platinum, gold and silver StorageCraft partners are also entitled to a free IT edition after reaching a specified sales turnover per quarter. Please see the partner program website for more information.

In summary, here’s some of the benefits of ShadowProtect IT Edition:

  • Use ShadowProtect IT Edition for backup and recovery without installing any software.
  • Back-up and restore an unlimited number of machines, one at a time, for the duration of your subscription.
  • Restore a backup image to a different machine, even if the failed machine doesn’t have ShadowProtect software installed.
  • Back up Microsoft SQL, Exchange, and SharePoint servers and other critical application servers, including updates in memory.

Click here for further information of how ShadowProtect IT Edition can help you work better and faster.

More questions?

If you have any queries about ShadowProtect IT Edition call our product specialists on 0118 9898 222. More information is also available on our website at our StorageCraft pages.

 

LabTech MSP_Man BannerArticle contributed by John Timko, Marketing Director, LabTech Software.

Why should you stand by and watch your business move in slow motion? Everyone knows that time is money, so as a business owner you want to speed up emergency fixes, report delivery, everyday tasks etc. The answer is automation and in this Part 2: here are the final steps for growth, efficiency and competitiveness:

3- Training. When it comes to staff, it isn’t about quantity but quality. Establishing automation expertise through staff training will help your team take advantage of new client-facing services and achieve your desired return on investment (ROI).

Training goes beyond your technical staff - you also need to educate your sales force. Your sales team needs to learn and develop new skills, new ways of talking about your IT business and new techniques to sell your services. The time and resources you spend to nurture and train employees will help them reach their full potential and open the door to success!

4- Get Creative. Thanks to automation tools like the LabTech remote monitoring and management (RMM) platform, if you can think it, you can automate it. Every IT solution ideally meets two criteria: 1) issues must be resolved consistently through documented steps; and 2) solutions must be executed without disrupting the end-user’s experience. To start understanding how automation can save you time and drive revenue, start a list of commonly reported issues from your clients to see how many recurring tasks you could proactively solve through automation. Learn how to visualize new business opportunities made possible with the time saved by automating these tasks.

5- You Built It. Market It. You've identified your market. Now it’s time to finalize your services and promote them! Start with the solutions that are easiest to implement and offer the greatest impact to your clients and move to more complex solutions that clients and prospects may not be even aware of. Set clear goals and move forward!

Automation adds value to any IT service provider’s business proposition. It makes clients happy by providing undetectable, proactive solutions that often prevent service interruptions. More importantly, automation grows your business. Using automation will increase profits by managing more devices per technician, uncovering hidden business opportunities, increasing billable time per technician and maximizing the value of your current client base, which ultimately leads to closing more sales.

If you missed Part 1- you can read this Blog post here 

Our product specialists are available to answer any questions on  0118 9898 222. You can also watch the video below for an overview of how automation helps MSPs create profitable businesses.

Trend Micro Worry Free

For many businesses, having employees working from different locations is how they function; emails sent from the airport and using mobile devices to transmit corporate information are a few examples of how vulnerable networks are from malware and virus attacks.

Modern protection is needed in an increasingly complex threat landscape. Trend Micro Complete User Protection delivers the best protection against today's evolving threat landscape.

With the broadest range of anti-malware techniques, it protects your users and their information across every endpoint and application, giving you multiple layers of interconnected threat protection.

Most importantly, you can manage users across multiple threat vectors from a single pane of glass, giving you complete visibility of the security of your environment. It will also fit your IT environment today and tomorrow with flexible on premise, cloud and hybrid deployment models.

Still need to know more about protecting devices in multiple locations with multi-layered security? Watch the Simple, Flexible Security Management video for a quick look at how it works:

Article contributed by John Timko, Marketing Director, LabTech Software.

LabTech MSP_Man BannerThere is nothing as frustrating as watching your IT business move in slow motion. Everyone knows time is money, so as a business owner you try to speed things up -  response time to clients, emergency fixes, report delivery, everyday tasks…the list goes on. Most days it feels like you are catching up, being reactive instead of proactive.

IT service providers know how important it is to provide high levels of customer support for their clients while building a profitable business. Most IT service providers receive a fixed fee for their services, meaning efficiency and speed are key to profitability. The more efficient you are, the more clients you can manage. You need to ensure your operation is moving quickly without sacrificing the accuracy that makes your business profitable and competitive.

The answer is automation.

Automating tasks allows you to speed up the delivery of services and act proactively instead of reactively. As you automate daily repetitive tasks and services, your technicians are free to take on more complex tasks and projects. Automation eliminates the need for constant human intervention in simple daily tasks so that staff can focus on more pressing client needs.

Automation also gives you peace of mind because you know that automated tasks are being completed every time! You are delivering proactive services that result in improved client satisfaction without disrupting end-users.

LabTech Software has developed 5 steps through best practice analysis to take your IT business to a new level of growth, efficiency, and competitiveness:

1- Growth Potential. Take a look at your current client base. How many new clients could you serve with automation solutions? What market share could you claim with more efficient services? Market research and a survey of your current clientele will help you identify the right services and sales goals for your business.

2- The Right Tools. Competitive IT service providers, like the best engineers, have a solid and powerful set of tools to help them accomplish tasks. For IT service providers those tools are:

  • Professional services automation (PSA).
  • Remote monitoring and management (RMM).
  • Quote and proposal automation.

If you’re already using these tools you are ready to automate your business. Automation is a force multiplier that flows into all operative stages, staff, and everyday activities to increase efficiency across the board while driving revenue. If you are missing some of these tools, explore vendor offers to ensure you are getting everything you need to make your business a success.

Want to know more about "How to Save Time and Drive Revenue?" We'll be back soon to tell you more in Part 2..... in the meantime, here's a video about RMM and how it helps MSPs create efficient, profitable businesses: