Magazine Article | July 18, 2012

The Right Way To Upsell BDR

By Jay McCall, Business Solutions Magazine

A VAR doubles its monthly recurring revenue by taking the time to evaluate its customer’s backup and disaster recovery (BDR) needs.

It’s not easy being a VAR in today’s economy. Competition is fierce and profit margins are much thinner than they were 10 years ago, when you could actually earn a good living selling hardware. That’s why it’s so tempting when you actually do win a deal to not push the customer too hard for any upsells. After all, your customers are feeling the pinch of a tight economy too, right?

When IT solutions provider Edge Solutions got a request from its customer, the city of Woodstock, GA to provide a quote for “how much storage capacity it could get for $12,000,” it could have given the customer what it asked for and nothing more. Recognizing a potential upsell opportunity, Edge turned to master MSP (managed services provider) B2BMSP Technology for advice. “We work with VARs that haven’t yet been successful in selling cloud based services,” says Ed Burke, president of B2BMSP. “We provide presales configuration services, guided selling support, outsourced help desk support, and training — all designed to work in tandem with a traditional VARs’ sales processes.”

Burke explains that some VARs may partner with his company for a short period until they get the hang of selling managed services on their own, and others, preferring to have B2BMSP provide back office support, form long-term partnerships with the master MSP.

In Edge’s situation, it initially contacted Burke’s company for guided selling assistance. “We provided them with a survey questionnaire that they used with the city of Woodstock’s director of IT,” recalls Burke. Some of the questions included:

  • Do you have a DR (disaster recovery) plan?
  • Which of your business applications are mission critical?
  • How long can you be without email before it causes problems?
  • What would the impact be if your server was down for multiple days?

Between the questionnaire and the VAR’s own network assessment, it discovered that more than one-third of the city’s storage capacity was taken up by email. Plus, the city had more than 200 users accessing and using email 24/7, and it was making it very difficult to do backups. “Email turned out to be a real sore spot for this organization,” says Burke. “Not only does this organization have to comply with e-discovery laws, but email was also essential to its business operation. The IT director even admitted in the questionnaire, ‘If our email goes down, we’re hosed.’”

Sell The Advantages Of An OpEx Backup Solution

After consulting with B2BMSP, Edge Solutions recommended a fully managed Axcient BDR solution that included an on-site HP appliance that captures both image and file-based backups any time an update is made to the city’s data. During off hours, after local backups occur, a copy of the new data or data change is made in Axcient’s cloud. The solution also included RMM (remote monitoring and management), custom configuration, ongoing management, and reporting. The solution was also bundled with Reflexion’s RADAR email service, which automatically archives emails older than 90 days to Reflexion’s cloud. “We proposed a quote for a 2 TB solution and one for a 4 TB solution,” recalls Burke. “Based on the customer’s budget, it chose the 2 TB option, which was about $2,000 per month.”

Within 90 days of going live with the BDR solution, B2BMSP’s RMM tool showed that the customer was at 97% capacity. “Shortly after the BDR implementation, the city added a new GIS [geographic information systems] mapping solution to help with building development, roads, and planning, which took up a lot of storage capacity,” says Burke. “We alerted Edge, and they were able to easily upgrade the customer to the 4 TB solution for around $3,500 per month.”

Burke says he’s not surprised that an RFP with a $12,000 budget turned into a solution generating $42,000 per year. “A managed services plan turns a CapEx purchase into an OpEx purchase,” he says. “The finance departments love this because they know exactly what they’re paying per TB of storage. Plus, because it’s fully managed, they don’t need to hire additional IT staff to perform backups, maintain equipment, and be responsible for keeping an off-site copy of the city’s data.”