Magazine Article | March 19, 2012

It's Not Too Late To Start Selling Managed Services

By Jay McCall, networking and managed services editor, Business Solutions magazine.

Sometimes the events I attend and the company I’m around give me a one-sided view of the state of the channel. Here are a few examples: Within the past few months, I’ve attended PSA (professional services automation) vendor ConnectWise’s IT Nation event, which I followed with master MSP (managed services provider) and HaaS (hardware- as-a-service) vendor CharTec’s Academy training event. And more recently, I had the privilege of attending RMM (remote monitoring and management) vendor Level Platforms’ road show. While at these events, I’ve been surrounded by MSPs. What’s more, I regularly interview MSPs that have been selling managed services for years — even before MSP became a household name. These interactions help create the impression that the majority of the IT channel has made the move to selling managed services and break-fix is pretty much a thing of the past.

That fantasy was dashed recently when I was presented with a CompTIA study that revealed only 40% of all channel companies are currently offering any kind of managed services. What?! Is that really true? Why? I’m guessing there are a few reasons as to the “why” behind this, but I’m betting one of the more common reasons is that being a break-fix VAR requires a completely different mindset than being a services provider. First off, break-fix is more hardware-centric and tangible. Some managed services providers rarely, if ever, open up the case on their customers’ equipment. In fact, sometimes they’re able to do such a good job at remotely monitoring and troubleshooting their customers’ networks that the customer barely even knows they’re there. This can create its own problem if the MSP doesn’t remember to periodically present the customer with reports that show all the things that would have gone wrong if the customer wasn’t paying for the MSP’s services.

If you’re a break-fix VAR, I’m guessing there’s one other big obstacle you might have to making the move to managed services — you like to do everything yourself. Let’s face it, to grow as a managed services company, you either have to grow your IT staff, or you have to partner with other companies to help handle the on-site visits that do come with the territory from time to time. Maybe you’ve tried partnering with other IT companies in the past and gotten burned. With these objections (and more) in mind, I reached out to four industry experts to get their advice for those reading this month’s issue who may be flirting with getting into the managed services space, but still haven’t made the move. Check out “Overcome Your Aversion To Selling Managed Services” on page 40. Better yet, read the article, and let me know if it addresses any of the objections you’ve had about selling managed services. For extra credit, tell me why you think managed services is overrated and why your plan is better. If it’s compelling enough, we’ll feature your success story in a future issue of Business Solutions.