Six Takeaways for MSPs from IT Nation 2015

I just finished a long, but super week in Orlando, participating in the HTG and IT Nation events. I had the pleasure of participating in one lunch learn, one partner panel, and one vendor panel, while getting to attend and listen to numerous breakouts and mainstage presentations. Moreover, I got to visit with scores of eFolder partners and friends over the course of the week.

It is time for everyone in the IT Nation to compile your notes, find the nuggets and make your plan of attack.

Here my six takeaways for MSPs:

1.    Integration is key

Whether you are a vendor or an MSP, we should all try to emulate ConnectWise. They are innovative and unique in so many ways. On Thursday’s mainstage event, CEO Arnie Bellini accomplished two major goals.

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Six MSP Problems Solved by True Marketing Automation

Many good MSPs today already have invested in a professional services automation (PSA) platform, such as Connectwise or Autotask. These tools are essential for growing MSPs. Labor costs are challenge for any service business and PSA tools help automate and organize key tasks, such as time tracking and ticket handling.

However, in our experience, PSA tools do not hold a candle to best of breed marketing automation platforms when it comes to genuine marketing functionality.

In the world of sales and marketing, partners should leverage a specialized tool that is purpose built. The "marketing modules" and CRM tools in most PSA systems just don't make the grade.

Here is a short list of popular marketing automation packages: Marketo, Act-on, Pardot, Eloqua, Hubspot, Constant Contact, and Infusionsoft. Many of these tools have low priced or freemium on ramps to the full featured product, while several of the tools have won rave reviews from SMB customers due to their ease of use and simplicity. Many MSPs I know use Constant Contact, which is arguably the market leader in SMB marketing automation.

Here are five problems faced by many MSPs, which are solved with a marketing automation solution:

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Five Reasons You Need a Client Council

I just finished up a few days with the HTG Advisory Council. The council is made up key leaders from the HTG community. eFolder is privileged to be the sole vendor sponsor on the council. The group advises the leadership and staff of HTG on the current state of the program and on its future direction. On a personal and professional level, it is also very rewarding to rub elbows with such a smart group of people. The council members have great passion for the mission of HTG and no one in the group is shy about sharing their point of view.

My few days with the HTG Advisory Council reminded me of the importance of eFolder’s own effort in this area, the eFolder Partner Council.

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Never Let a Serious Crisis go to Waste, But Don’t Sit Around Waiting for One to Happen

I just spent a few days learning from the MSP marketing mavens at the Robin Robins' Big Seminar in Nashville.

The highlight of the event was the Better Your Best competition, where seven different MSP business owners shared their marketing and business growth success stories from the past year. Votes from peers and a panel of industry experts decided the winner. The grand prize was a brand new luxury automobile, compliments of Robin Robins.

Stuff Happens
There was common theme that emerged from most of the contestants, namely, that some form of personal or business adversity helped transform their business and commitment to marketing. Many of the finalists shared a story about a serious crisis, which served as a wake up call for the business owner and their staff. One owner’s business partner literally died at the company picnic, collapsing on the grass after scoring a touchdown in a flag football game. God rest this man’s soul, but suffice it to say, this man’s sudden passing turned this company on its ear. It just so happened that nearly all of the key clients of this MSP perceived the late business partner as the brains of the outfit. What would happen with him now gone? In another case, a driven business owner received a surprise call from his doctor with a cancer diagnosis.

In each crisis, the choice was clear: either fundamentally transform the business or fold up the tent and call it quits.

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Three Simple Steps to Getting More Leads From Your Vendors

Leads, they are the currency of business growth. No one ever has too many good leads. Nevertheless, too many business owners simply bemoan the apparent lack of leads, rather than doing much about the problem.

A common habit of MSP and VAR business owners is to complain about the lack of leads from their vendors. It is really time to stop complaining and to do something about it. In many cases, vendors are sitting on lots of leads that are poorly distributed or simply going to waste. Vendors need an elite group of companies that are their go to partners for lead distribution, but this level of cooperation is a two way street.

There are concrete steps every channel partner can take to get more than your fair share of leads from your vendors.

Here are three good ones:

1.    Cultivate a relationship with your Channel Account Manager

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