Jacey Moore, CMO of reseller-only cloud distributor Giacom, explains what Managed Service Providers should look for from a Cloud Service Provider
Cloud services now underpin every aspect of IT investment. From office applications to core business systems and, increasingly, artificial intelligence, a robust cloud service offering is a fundamental component of any MSP offering for SMEs. But how much trust do you have in your Cloud Services Provider (CSP)?
The need for trusted relationships in business is clearly established – and for the MSP/CSP relationship that should mean a ring-fenced customer base. Yet, when the majority of CSPs are selling both to MSPs and directly to end clients, conflict and competition are inevitable.
How can an MSP secure the right solution for a prospect if it doesn’t dare discuss the options with its CSP for fear that they will go behind its back to shut down the deal? Why should an MSP worry that as soon as a customer hits a certain size, the CSP will go to it direct, claiming to offer better resources and services than the MSP?
This is no way to build or sustain strong business relationships. The MSP/CSP relationship should be collaborative, with the CSP supporting its MSPs through every step of the process, from building the market to closing the deal, and not looking for an opportunity for a direct sell.
Building the Market
MSPs openly admit that marketing can be a struggle, and with good reason: vendor marketing material is typically designed for enterprise clients and rarely reflects the needs of SMEs. For the highly skilled technical experts that run most MSPs, finding a way to present the right message to SME CEOs and CIOs can be a challenge. These individuals are rarely interested in technical details; they want to know what an MSP can deliver – the benefits, the costs – and how quickly.
This is where a strong CSP/MSP relationship can be invaluable. But only if the CSP is committed to building the market with its MSPs. From repurposing vendor marketing materials to reflect the needs of the SME business to creating videos, building microsites, writing blog posts, even designing marketing emails, a CSP that can own-brand material for its MSPs and effectively provide a ‘campaign in a box’ will help them to secure new business.
Closing the Deal
Marketing raises awareness, but the right sales experience is vital to closing a deal. An MSP unwilling to discuss openly and honestly the challenges faced in closing a new customer is potentially missing out on hugely valuable support. Any CSP Account Manager should be able to work with an MSP to counter specific objections raised by a prospective customer, to compare products from different vendors or to demonstrate a solution’s value in comparison to their existing set-up.
There are so many ways a CSP can and should help: battle cards that outline product differences will give the MSP confidence when talking to the prospect; a discussion about possible add-on solutions will open up new revenue opportunities and help the MSP to demonstrate added value; direct requests for information from vendors will ensure questions are answered promptly even when the CSP doesn’t have immediate access to the information.
The quality of the CSP relationship is the foundation of success for any MSP, so it is important to ask the right questions: Does the CSP provide easy access to marketing materials? Will the Account Manager spend time discussing how best to build a business case for a new prospect? And is the CSP also selling direct? If an MSP cannot trust their CSP not to poach, is the relationship just one-way?
Giacom is the UK’s fastest-growing reseller-only cloud services provider and the largest Microsoft CSP distributor in Europe. It delivers a range of cloud solutions for SMBs through its dedicated portal, the Giacom Cloud Market, including Hosted Exchange, Office 365, Acronis Backup Cloud, Bitdefender and Vade Secure. It was recently named a National Winner in the 2019 European Business Awards, out of 120,000 entrants. As the highest placed UK business in the Innovation category (for companies with a turnover of €26m – €150m), Giacom will represent the United Kingdom at the awards final in December.
New from Giacom, Cloud Server is an Azure-powered server hosted in the cloud and available for a fixed monthly cost that removes the uncertainty of pay-as-you-go pricing.
The ‘out of the box’ solution is available in a selection of sizes, based on CPU, RAM and storage, with replication as standard and the option to add secure daily backups and VPN capabilities.
Steve Law, CTO of Giacom, says the cloud-hosted replacement for an on-premises server is designed to simplify matters for IT companies supporting SMBs that can be put off by Azure’s complexity and pricing models.
He said: “While Cloud adoption is increasing at an impressive rate, the pricing structures and technical configurations can present significant challenges for IT resellers – but that needn’t be the case. Cloud Server provides simple provisioning, predictable costs, secure data storage and BCDR, so it’s easily scalable to suit customer requirements.”
Giacom says that with a 99.9% uptime SLA and fixed cost data replication, Cloud Server is perfect for IT support companies that want to future-proof their businesses in the cloud and replace outdated on-site servers (e.g. Windows Server 2008/R2, which is due to go end of life in January). Like an onpremises server, it even gives resellers an opportunity to generate healthy, predictable and recurring margins by charging an install and ongoing maintenance fee.