From The Editor | March 1, 2012

Can A Master MSP Help Your Slumping Sales?

Jay McCall casual

By Jay McCall, networking and managed services editor

I recently attended master MSP and HaaS (hardware-as-a-service) vendor CharTec's two-day training session at its headquarters in Bakersfield, CA. There were several takeaways that I think could be particularly helpful if you're one of the 60% of VARs out there that still hasn't made the move to managed services, or, if you're an MSP whose sales have been flat, or worse. One thing that's different about CharTec is that it's not just a vendor, but it was created by the same person who founded ARRC Technology (the MSP part of the business) in 1992 and has been listed four times on the INC 5000 list of fastest growing privately held companies. So, what exactly is a master MSP? It means that if you do business outside a 100-mile radius of Bakersfield, CA, CharTec (the HaaS and MSP training part of ARRC) is willing to share its secrets with you (for a one-time fee of $4,000). Following is a highlight of my experience at CharTec's training academy as well as a teaser of topics from the training sessions I'll be featuring in upcoming issues of the Business Solutions newsletter.

How Engaging Was Your Last Training Session?

One thing I liked about the CharTec Academy that's noticeably different from the majority of training sessions I've attended in my nine years as an editor was that most of the sessions were based on a two-way conversation, not the typical one-way monologue. Sadly, so many training sessions are all about the presenter's agenda and there's very little engagement from the audience. When it comes to selling managed services, there are a lot of different ways to solve the same problem, so it's nice that Academy has been set up to handle your questions as they arise. The downside, as you can imagine, is that it becomes difficult to stay within the scheduled timeframe, which means that you may be 10 to 15 minutes late for your next training session. The first day's training session didn't end until about 7 p.m. – an hour after it was supposed to end. But, no one seemed to mind. And, I saw a lot of interaction between the attendees with the presenters as well as with each other. Also, there are more than 30 training topics covered during the two, full-day sessions and many times there are three trainings happening simultaneously, which allows attendees to customize the experience to their company's needs. Following are highlights from three sessions I attended, just to give you a sense of what it was like to be there:

  1. Intro and keynote from Alex Rogers — Rogers sets the tone at 8 a.m. sharp with his upbeat, charismatic, no-BS style introduction. Besides just laying out an overview of what's going to be covered during upcoming sessions, he engages the audience to find and capture their goals during the sessions, which included everything from improving their company culture to getting a better handle on helpdesk support. One thing that made this session particularly engaging was Rogers sharing some of the mistakes he's made in the past. One example was in 1997 when he became so frustrated with his company's culture that he fired everyone and closed the doors for five days. "Not the best way to create a positive corporate culture," he quips.
  2. Hiring The Best Talent — Jamie Williams, partner support director at CharTec, gave a step-by-step view of CharTec's hiring process during this session, including discussing the company's use of the DISC profile, a multiple-choice test that helps categorize employee candidate's dominance, influence, steadiness, and compliance traits. If someone is applying for a sales position at your company, for example, and they score low on dominance (D), that's a red flag that they're not going to have the proper drive needed to prospect for new business. The session also went into details about behavior-based hiring, which can help an MSP quickly identify candidates making "exaggerated claims" on their resumes and reduce future bad hiring decisions. There was a ton of great information in this session, which I'm going to explore in more detail in future issues of the newsletter.
  3. How To Sell HaaS — I thought this was interesting because I see so many VARs go to extremes when it comes to selling hardware. Some put so much emphasis on hardware that they're stuck in the break/fix world and not able to take advantage of managed services. Others go to the opposite extreme of giving away hardware with the hopes of making their investment back over a long period and eventually turning a profit down the road. This session presented a third perspective, showing attendees how to add the cost of IT hardware into the cost of a managed services program. Alex Rogers presents a few options for MSPs to consider, ranging from financing the hardware themselves to paying no money up front and outsourcing the equipment, warranty, and SPLA (service provider license agreement) to CharTec. He even spends time crunching the numbers to show MSPs at what point it makes sense for them to make the transition from leasing equipment to buying it themselves.

To give you a stronger sense of what's included in training sessions at CharTec Academy, I'm going to feature more in-depth coverage on the following topics, which you'll see in future issues of the newsletter:

  1. Creating A Stronger Company Culture
  2. How To Market Your MSP Practice
  3. Tips For Selling Managed Services In Healthcare
  4. Hiring The Right People (including how to present an offer to the right candidate and the best way to onboard a new employee)
  5. What To Include In Your SLA
  6. The Number One Reason For A Botched Managed Services Sale – The Sales Discovery Process
  7. Getting A Handle On Your Helpdesk Support
  8. Providing Accurate (And Timely) Quotes
  9. How To Pay Your Salespeople In An MSP Environment
  10. Generating Leads From Your Website
  11. Motivating Techs To Capture All Their Billable Hours In Your PSA
  12. Don't Neglect VoIP's Role In Your MSP Business