While Navigate 2014 has passed, we put together a pre-event radio show with clips from some of our Navigate speakers who appeared on MSPradio. These guests spoke on a variety of subjects and presented to packed rooms at Navigate 2014.

Tune in this week to MSPradio to hear segments from these speakers' radio shows and what they spoke about at Navigate 2014. Featured guests include Chris Wiser, Stuart Selbst, Bryan Gilliom, Joy Beland, Anurag Agrawal, and Mike Schmidtmann.

Additionally, stay tuned for more Navigate 2014 conference coverage on MSPradio in the weeks to come!


Tune in this week and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.

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Episode Transcription:

Nate:                       Hey folks, welcome back to another episode of MSP Radio, I am your host Nate Teplow and we have Navigate 2014 right around the corner. So we are very excited about it. Hopefully you all are aware of Navigate 2014 and it’s Continuum first ever user conference and I have been fortunate enough to be joined by a number of our speakers at navigate on MSP Radio.

                                   So in preparation for the conference which is in about a week and a half, I’m going to play for you some clips from some of these speakers just so you know what to expect at the conference and I just think they are very knowledgeable people and you get a lot out of hearing some of their clips back to back.

                                    So before we get into it, I want to remind you all to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes. If you search for MSP Radio, you can subscribe there. We are also available via the Stitcher app for android users and the Pocket Casts app.

                                    Lastly, follow us on twitter using the handle at follow continuum and you can let us know what you think of the show with the hashtag MSP Radio.

                                    So first up is an interview I did with Chris Wiser. He is the CEO of TechSquad IT and he will be speaking at Navigate about closing more qualified leads and that’s exactly what he’s going to tell us about in this next segment here. So here is Chris Wiser from TechSquad IT.

Chris Wiser

Nate:                      To start things off, I thought we could just kind of define what a qualified lead is. Chris, how do you like define a lead that’s qualified?

Chris:                       Well one of the things that I think I have seen is you have a couple of different categories of the managed service provider, the managed service provider. You have the MSP that is pretty new, pretty small owning anywhere from one to even probably 1 to 15 people and their that the whole lot of structure and is a whole lot of specifically sales structure. Are most of the techs that are CEOs of these companies know how to do the technical side so they are pretty good at that. So there is that version of the client or the MSP and then there’s the next level which is the little bit larger MSP that actually has their stuff in gear.

                                    So it is important that you actually know who you are looking for I know who the client is that you’re trying to get and that’s one of the big things that I think is a differentiator between the small client, that’s more MSP and the bigger MSP. The bigger MSP kind of has an idea; gotten good enough at it. They’ve got enough talent internally, they can do for that. Whereas the smaller MSPs which is I think like what 90, 90% probably even higher of the actual MSPs in the world are… Just take America for example, but they are actually going out and they are willing to take just about anybody as a client. And I think one of the biggest things that have been a big differentiator for us is we have people that walk in the door…

                                   In fact, we just had this debate two days ago here in my office because my sales team took on a three person attorneys from that just wants to do break six. And it is something that I continually say, “I understand you want business but there is a fine line between is that the type of client that we want or not?” And the answer is that I’m not going to say “no” to some business I get but really at the end of the day, is that the type of client I want because my goal is 50 to 200 end-users and recurring revenue. These guys want to break six and they are a three-man shop.

Nate:                       Yeah.

Chris:                       It’s looking for the type of client you want and qualifying that lead and making sure that yes, they want you but do you want them?

Nate:                       Yeah, definitely. I mean increased revenue doesn’t always lead to increase profitability so you really got to find the right retainers out there.

Chris:                       It’s the power to say no right? You’ve got to be willing to say no at some time. And even we, by no means are we a rock and sock and perfect shop here. This literally happened yesterday. We have one machine which is like their server machine on. Eventually it will turn into a recurring revenue vehicle but it’s not our ideal client.

                                   And a real thing, I will just add this on there as well, it is not just MSPs that have this. We use the same exact practice. I don’t care who your clients is, we use the same exact practice whether they are a law firm, whether they are MSP as a client, it doesn't matter until you probably agree with me that business is business and sales is sales so you have… Implementing the same techniques and the same purposes, one of the biggest keys is implementation, actually doing them, that execution and making sure it’s done in a systematic process.

End - Chris Wiser

Nate:                       All right, you are back here in the studio with Nate. Hope you enjoyed that segment from Chris Wiser. Again he is the CEO of TechSquad IT.

                                   Next up is Stuart Selbst. He is an MSP coach and he will be speaking at navigate talking about how to transform your business model into a managed services model and this episode is actually our most listened episode to date. Stu is very knowledgeable and he’s a great speaker, really looking forward to seeing him at navigate. So hopefully you enjoy this quick segment from Stu’s MSP Radio episode.

Stuart Selbst

Nate:                       We wanted to touch on where some MSPs are falling short. I know all of our guests here talk to MSPs frequently. I guess Stu could kick it off. As an MSP coach, what do you find to be the most common issues among MSPs in terms of where they are lacking when it comes to growing their business?

Stuart:                    I don’t want to be mean but where do I begin? There is so many of them!

                                    Specifically, the reason people want to engage is because they want to sell more I? They want to sell more of their services. But before they canceled the services they need to have process behind it. And so many MSPs don’t realize that the model, the business model is a process. Now I think process to the nth degree. When I ran my MSP, everything was process based. We did $4 million a year recurring revenue with eight people or nine people based on process.

                                   Even today, me and my staff are all Six Sigma certified. We take that whole process development into every one of the clients we work with. So whether the common issue is they can’t effectively take on more business until they have a process in support the business they have. So I hear all the time, time management is a big issue, finding the right type of clients is a big issue, selling their services… And a lot of people would just go and like I mentioned earlier, sell managed services as a line item.

                                   I even had a partner earlier this year, who is no longer with us, selling managed service as an RMM tool. He wasn’t as Continuum partner thankfully but he was selling his RMM tool as a line item and billing it as such. So taking the cost of this RMM tool, marking it up and selling it to his client! Well, that’s not the way he needs to do business effectively. That’s not a profitable way to do business.

                                   And people will argue that pointlessly all day long because they think, “We are making 20 points on this!” Well, it’s not a Dell laptop folks! It’s a business model! And so when you are selling your services as a product, you are not going to be profitable, you just stop being profitable.

Nate:                       Yeah, you definitely.

Stuart:                    When you sell your service as a business model, well then you are making a ton of money and I see it all day long with partners that I work with. And it’s getting their mind wrapped around business model demand services. It’s the business of IT, not the IT business.

                                   I spoke at a conference not too long ago and I gave a presentation called selling IT services: how not to suck at it. And part of it is I could talk to any MSP anywhere in the world and I could guarantee that they are not selling 100% of their services to each and every one of their clients. So they are missing 30, 40, 50% more in revenue anywhere you go. Because they are not servicing the client, they are not giving the client what they need. They are letting the client run the business for them so to speak. The client is telling them what they want and they are not being consulted. They are not running it as a business model.

End Stuart Selbst


Nate:                       So you just heard from Stuart Selbst. Again he is an MSP coach who will be talking at navigate about transforming your MSP business model. Next up we have an interview with Bryan Gilliom. He is a former MSP business owner and now an MSP business coach who is going to tell us a little bit about how to improve operations as an MSP and how to grow your business.

                                   So here is Bryan Gilliom.

Bryan Gilliom

Nate:                       So you spend a lot of time with MSPs, you are obviously now an MSP coach. You’ve got a ton of experience. What do you think is the biggest mistake that MSPs are making these days?

Bryan:                     I think the biggest mistake is that people still believe they are in the technology business. And the reality is as MSPs, we are in the risk business. Technology is a tool that we use to manage risk but what our clients really hiring us to do is to take away a nasty scary risk that they have right now in their business and take responsibility for it.

Nate:                       Yeah.

Bryan:                     So anything we are doing that is not basically serving that concept and serving that conversation with the client is taking away from our ability to be successful and profitable.

Nate:                       Yeah, definitely, definitely. And what sorts of risks are these that business owners are looking to eliminate? I mean there is security, there is leveraging the right technologies and losing data, things like that?

Bryan:                     Yeah. There is compliance risk obviously which is one of the ones a lot of people focus on. There is data loss which is a risk. There is downtime productivity loss. There is the possibility they are going to miss an important technology shift – that they are not going to know when the time is they should go to the cloud.

                                    You talk back to the quarterly and annual business review, even that is somewhat of a risk meaning if it’s done right because what your business owner is worrying about is, “Should I be in the cloud? Should I be doing these things? Is my business going to be behind if I don’t?”

Nate:                       Yeah, definitely.

Bryan:                     So that’s kind of the stretching the example a little bit but even there, what you are really doing is helping the business owner mitigate the strategic risk of making the wrong decisions around IT.

Nate:                       Yeah, definitely, definitely.

                                    So we were talking before the show a little bit about differentiating yourself as an MSP and you said that a lot of people are all saying that they are an advisor to their clients. And if everyone is saying it, you are not really differentiating yourself. So what are some of the things we can actually differentiate yourself in order to really sell your services and get ahead of your competition?

Bryan:                     So, to differentiate yourself, you really have to start from a couple of things. One is you have to be very, very clear on who your ideal client is. You have to really know that ideal client, what keeps them up at night? Why would they choose you over any other ISP or MSP or technology service provider? What is the compelling value you are going to bring?

Nate:                       So Bryan we were talking about the show and you mentioned that a lot of MSPs, they say their competitive differentiation is that they are good advisor to their clients. And if everyone is saying that, it’s not really a differentiation. So what are some ways an MSP can really differentiate themselves from their competition and use that to grow their business?

Bryan:                     So one way is to look inwards at yourself and what the DNA of your organization is. What are you uniquely good at? Maybe it’s that you have done 10 projects in a particular industry and so you have a depth of industry knowledge that nobody else has. Maybe it’s that you have some team members that have some really strong expertise. As strange as it might sound, one of the examples we talk about in my program is.

                                   Let’s say you have somebody on staff who is a great web designer. Include a free website in all of your services. That way you force your competitors to reproduce that in a more expensive way and you are basically fighting on ground that is conducive to you and not conducive to your competitors. So one way is to look for your own… In your own unique DNA.

                                  Another way is to get really, really clear about what your value is to your clients. Really know who your ideal client is. So are you… You can’t be everything to everybody. So are you going to be really, really good at a particular industry, the particular size client, other particular family owned or multi-location and get really, really good at that and craft your marketing message, craft your services, craft all those things to appeal to what keeps those people up at night?              

End- Bryan Gilliom


Nate:                       All right, hope you enjoyed the segment from Bryan Gilliom. We’re going to take a quick commercial break here. Coming up next we will continue to play some more segments from Navigate speakers who have joined me here on MSP Radio.

                                    This includes a segment from Joy Beland, Anurag Agrawal, and Mike Schmidtmannn so look forward to hearing from them and we will see you all in a few minutes.


Paul:                        We know it can be tough to stay ahead in the managed IT services industry which is why we are launching Navigate 2014. It’s a user conference dedicated to helping MSPs find their path to success in managed services. We pulled together an information packed agenda with speakers from all over the country including keynote speakers Paul Chisholm, former CEO of mind shift technologies and Peter Isler, two time winner of America’s Cup.

                                   This is the event to attend if you are an MSP. We ask you to join us this fall in Boston from September 21 to the 23rd for navigate 2014.

                                   Find out more and sign up, simply visit the website Continuumnavigate.com

                                   And now back to our program with Nate!             

Nate:                       Hey folks, welcome back from our commercial break. You are here on MSP Radio and we have navigate 2014 right around the corner. It’s Continuum’s first ever user conference at in preparation for the conference we are playing some segments from some of the conference speakers who have joined me here on MSP Radio. So next up we have Joy Beland, she’s also known as the LA IT girl and she will be speaking at Navigate about performing business reviews with your clients and you’re going to hear from her right now, a little bit about the importance of performing these reviews with your clients.

                                    So here is Joy Beland also known as the LA IT girl.

Joy Beland

Nate:                       So I wanted to dive a little bit deeper into your topic I navigate. You mentioned you would be speaking about performing these business reviews. So if I am kind of new to this, can you give me a quick synopsis of what a business review is and how it will help me as an MSP?

Joy:                           Well, certainly. A business review is a recap on a periodic basis of three essential items. Number one, how are we performing as your MSP? Sitting down and having an honest conversation with your clients, getting the feedback, going over what your performance has been. The second is; what’s going on their business that we should be aware of? Because without sitting in front of the client, really having that rapport where you are the trusted advisor, you don’t know about the future growth and things you could be more involved in to help them and it’s a great opportunity to have that conversation.

                                   The third thing is presenting them with a 12 month rolling budget and to me, that’s a huge thing. If my clients know a whole year in advance with the big expenses are coming down the pipe for upgrades and server replacements and moving things to the cloud, it just becomes part of their normal planning rather than just a surprised check that they have to write. And it’s a much more comfortable conversation and a much more professional relationship.

Nate:                       Yeah, definitely. It’s good as a business owner to have a heads up as to what expenses you can expect rather than dumping it on them when it comes time.

Joy:                           Yeah, we really become a partner with you in planning for the growth.

Nate:                       Yeah, absolutely. So who is in charge of doing this? Is this something you do as MSP owner? Is it something that your technicians should be doing or should the clients get involved in performing these?

Joy:                           Well definitely the client. I like to have the owner of the business and if there is a IT director, available at that client then I would want them present as well. But for my shop, I am a fairly small shop. I just have a few technicians working with me and as the owner, I want to be the one meeting with the client myself.

                                   I think in a larger MSPs mostly they have the account manager doing this type of a periodic review but for me, it’s really hands-on. I am a small enough shop that my relationship with the client is the primary contact that they have, an important driving conversation.

Nate:                       Mhm, you definitely. How do you think this has helped you as an MSP? How has it helped you with your clients doing these business reviews?

Joy:                           Oh my gosh! I would say that it has integrated me in their staff as a member of their staff.

                                    One of the examples I can give is if we are having a hard time developing a solution for a certain staff member at a client’s office and I include them in the conversation to the periodic business review to have them have an open conversation about what their challenges are in front of the business owner and with me validating what the circumstances are. But that type of relationship and conversation isn’t common believe it or not in the IT industry with our clients. And I become an advocate for the staff members and the staff to become advocates for me.

                                    So it’s super important to be integrated into the family of the client in that way if you will.

End-Joy Beland

Nate:                       All right, back here in the studio with Nate. You just heard from Joy Beland, again LA IT girl. She just told you a little bit about the importance of performing regular business reviews with her clients.

                                    Up next we have Anurag Agrawal. He is the CEO of Techaisle and Techaisle is a market research firm. They specialize in SMB market research technology research and do a great job at understanding SMB IT priorities.

                                    So he is going to tell us a little bit about the state of small business and where some of these IT opportunities lie for MSPs with the SMB clients. So here is Anurag Agrawal of Techaisle.

Anurag Agrawal

Nate:                       Just to begin Anurag, do you mind telling us a little bit about your company Techaisle and what some of the focus of your research is?

Anurag:                  Yeah. Techaisle and as you said, Techaisle is an SMB and channel partner IT market research and analyst organization and we are founded on the premise that go to market strategies really require some insightful research, fixable data and a deeper analysis.

                                    And our insights are actually built on very strong data-driven foundations.. To achieve is our hub, the objectives, we actually conduct surveys with SMB’s and channels across the 15 different countries to really understand market trends, opportunities, buying behavior [inaudible 19:50] and then business issues.

                                    And basically what we are able to do is because we’ve gotten so much rich information with us, we are able to connect the dots between various types of SMB’s. They are the channel partners, what type of technologies that they are adopting and why.

                                    Our research studies cover cloud computing, managed services, mobility, collaboration, virtualization, business intelligence, analytics, upcoming big data, networking and data centers.

Nate:                       That’s great. It sounds like you guys do a lot there!

Anurag:                  Yeah! We do.

Nate:                       And it really sounds like it’s data that’s really something that an MSP would be looking at. It seems very tailored to the IT industry and MSP industry.

Anurag:                  You said it, absolutely.

Nate:                       That’s great. So you guys are doing all this data. What are some of the recent findings you’ve seen just about the SMB market?

Anurag:                  So we are always swimming in rich data that shows the technology interconnections and the factors that are driving their adoption within the SMB’s.

                                    So let us look at five key points that we are seeing as evolving trend.

                                    The first point is for the first time in five years, cost is not the number one business issue for SMB’s. Business growth is the top issue which manifests itself in many different ways; why they are adopting cloud, why they are going for managed services, why they are looking at analytics and so on and so forth.

                                   Second point, the SMB buying community has expanded. The BMU is bigger than it used to be and involves more different kinds of people than it used to. So it’s not know longer a factor where I have to just approach the IT person within the small business. I need to approach the business executive and I need to have a top-down and bottom-up approach as well.

                                   Third, SMB cloud is real and immediate. But what we’re seeing is it’s a migration not a complete switch which also lends itself to the fact that hybrid cloud is the way to go.

                                    Fourth, the path to channel success in the cloud is not exactly well paved but it’s not unmarked either which means that your MSP customers or the MSP innovators, channel partners can really take advantage of this shift in the technology adoption and they are being given signs all along the way how to be a really successful.

                                    And first and the most important which we talked earlier was that SMB’s are living in a multi-device world. Multiple devices mean less attention on each device which probably means that longer PC refresh cycles are here to stay and the NR of building a channel business around just hardware attached and specially PC attached sales is over but service attached is just about to begin.

End-Anurag Agrawal

Nate:                       So hope you all enjoyed that segment from Anurag. Again he is the CEO of Techaisle. They are a fantastic market research firm that has some great data and hope you enjoyed just kind of a sneak peek of what they would be talking about at navigate 2014.

                                    Up we’re going to hear from Mike Schmidtmann. This is actually the last segment we will pay for you here today on this special MSP Radio episode. But Mike is going to be at Navigate talking about the importance of strong salespeople to any organization and specifically to manage services providers. So we are going to hear from Mike a little bit about his experience as a sales professional and the importance of strong salespeople to an organization. So here is Mike Schmidtmann.

Mike Schmidtmann

Nate:                       So Mike, can you give us a little background of just your experience, how you got started in sales and in sales coaching?

Mike:                       Great, well thank you Nate. I actually… When I got out of college, my brother and I bought a bar up in Maine and so we were business owners and so I noticed like to worry about payroll enough to pay the bills and growing the business. I had some people come in one time and they were just highrollers with… Peeling of hundred dollar bills and I said, “Well, what kind of business are you in?” And they said, “Well, we are in sales.” So I was hooked.

                                   I moved over to sales over 25 years ago and then fortunately I got hooked up with a great training organization Kaplan your Business Products. So I started selling office automation back in the 1980s. And my first product I sold was an 80 pound word processor, how would you like to bring that around for a demonstration?

Nate:                       Yeah, sounds like fun.

Mike:                       And it ran I think $6000 and it had 32 k of RAM. So I have been in this business for a long, long time and scene. But what Linear did so well was train people how to identify, find attract, retain customers and then build the business. And so I made it a practice for 25 years that I have been in the solution provider business one way shape or form. So computers, telephone systems, MSPs, I work with a lot of companies and the core issues remain the same – how do we attract people? How do we how do we build a business? How do we serve our customers? How do we make a profitable business?

                                    And I was lucky. When I was in Washington DC I had an opportunity to start my own business there as a part of another organization. I started with one salesperson and in eight years we grew to be the largest [of IRE 25:32] seller on the East Coast so I had 18 salespeople, two managers. We were a $30 million business and in the eight years we were there, we made $11 million in profits. So all these things are important Nate so I’m going to resonate with your listeners; great salespeople help you build a business, great salespeople help bring you gross profit and profit to the business. And if you have a great sales team, a lot of good things can happen.

                                    Conversely, if you do not have a good sales team, it’s almost impossible to grow your business. Now you can serve customers and people can love you. If you don’t have a great sales team, you will never go to the potential that you could and you will never have an economic asset that people will want to buy. So when the endgame comes for you whether you want to sell it or maybe take cash out of the business or go public or any of those fun things, that only happens if you have a sustainable sales team so that’s what I have companies do.

End - Mike Schmidtmann


Nate:                       So you just heard from Mike Schmidtmann again talking about the importance of strong salespeople to an organization and how they help fuel that organization’s growth.

                                    Unfortunately we have to wrap it up for today. But hope you all enjoyed the special episode of MSP Radio as we get ready for navigate 2014 which again is next week.

                                    If you will be there, we look forward to seeing you in Boston but if you cannot attend, we will be doing tons of sharing from the conference including live blogging. If you go to blog.Continuum.net you can stay up-to-date there. Life tweeting again using the handle at follow continuum. We’ve got some special videos coming out from the conference. So definitely look for us online. Stay in touch with us online and so you can stay up-to-date on all the exciting things happening at Navigate 2014.

                  So thank you all for tuning into this week’s special edition of MSP Radio. We hope to see you in Boston next week at navigate 2014 and looking forward to seeing you all again sometime soon on MSP Radio!