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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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3 Steps to Selling Cloud-Enabled Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Posted October 23, 2013by Jeff Neumann

img-blog-selling-cloud-enabled-bdr

Fully 91% of the world’s top 501 MSPs offer managed storage services. But often, those services involve only on-premises data management. For MSPs, the next logical step is to expand from just basic storage to a full-blown, cloud-enabled BC/DR offering that keeps SMB customers running, even in the face of disaster.

Business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) are fast-growing opportunities for managed services providers. The technology is proven and solid; the bigger challenge involves developing a BC/DR sales strategy to engage your customers.

How should you get started?
 

Step One

Take a look at the data and systems that are critical to the customer’s business, and what kinds of continuity or recovery mechanisms are already in place. It’s also essential to understand the client’s industry so you can take care of any regulatory or compliance concerns.

A thorough assessment should follow a certain structure:

  • Examine client policies and standards: The client’s specialized needs define how data protection and disaster recovery need to work; revenue-producing systems and regulatory guidelines will affect BC/DR decisions.
  • Critically review existing systems: Scrutinize existing equipment with an eye toward systems that should be upgraded or consolidated. Outdated, unreliable underlying infrastructure that can’t support sufficient BC/DR mechanisms should be replaced or optimized. The same goes for software and management systems.
  • Develop a business impact assessment (BIA): The BIA maps BC/DR priorities including lines of jurisdiction, areas of primary business concern and the order in which systems will be restored. The BIA lays the groundwork for ongoing discussions about BC/DR needs with the customer and for selling long-term BC/DR solutions.
  • Deliver a comprehensive BC/DR plan: The assessment phase ends with a follow-up to the BIA in the form of a more comprehensive BC/DR plan. Add technical specifications as well as data recovery stratification mapping, testing schedules and information about the chain of command for responding to disruptive events.

Step Two

Make a case for the sale of BC/DR services. All of the following elements — together — form a solid sales pitch:

  • The value proposition: Focus on the inherent value in the plans, policies, processes and professional support the solution provider brings to the table, and make your case in a way that will resonate with SMB buyers looking to entrust a partner with critical services such as BC/DR.
  • Product packaging: All of the extra products, technologies and third-party services make up the differentiated, value-added service SMB customers want, and should be branded accordingly as that much-needed solution.
  • Contracts and SLAs: In BC/DR services, performance is more than a promise; it’s a contractual obligation between provider and subscriber. Proper service-level agreements list the terms under which the MSP guarantees the restoration of daily operations and stored data.

Step Three

Plan a go-to-market strategy. The solution provider’s first foray into the SMB BC/DR market represents the most critical time for the success of its services and its continuity and recovery practice. To improve the odds of success, lay out a strategy:

  • Launch a small, manageable number of BC/DR offerings to start. Limiting the menu to one or two key offerings gives you an opportunity to focus on customer segments and build some experience.
  • Scout out early adopters: These first-line BC/DR customers will likely come from your current SMB accounts. Leverage your existing knowledge of the client’s business and IT systems to help hone your sales tactics.
  • Set firm sales objectives: These should be defined in metrics such as number of leads, meetings and sales conversions, as well as in actual sales. 
  • Field test and collect feedback: Though the BC/DR systems were tested early in the development phase, it’s important to test them again under real-world conditions during the launch phase. Here, you can make adjustments and get feedback from early adopters to make sure client perceptions are positive.

A Successful Approach to BC/DR

Like any new product or practice, your development of a new BC/DR offering needs to include more than a bunch of new technology assets and a sales pitch. BC/DR requires thoughtful business planning to deliver thorough assessments and an SMB-optimized service with a strong value proposition that resonates in the market. With this combination, you’ll be offering a BC/DR that meets your clients’ needs and adds to your own profit margin as well.


Improve-MSP-SLAs

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MSP Guide to Managed Services SLAs  [white paper]
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