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UK conference helps VARs and MSPs build a bigger, better and stronger business

VARs and MSPs flocked to the recent VARTrends event in Milton Keynes to find the best way to grow their business successfully in the future. The brand new event in the UK was well received by the attendees, as it was high on educational content and low on sales pitches. The conference primarily focused on the business operations, sales and marketing.

“VARs and MSPs need the right tools and services to execute the right strategy to transition their business into the next generation channel. It’s exactly why we built a powerful resource called VAR OfficeSuite where they can find everything that they need to streamline, manage and market their businesses. It’s going to make their lives easier, save lots of time and help them to grow successfully” said Julian Lee, President of TechnoPlanet (Organizers of the event).

A power panel discussion kicked off the conference featuring Alex Tatham of WestCoast, Carl West from GFK, Alan Norman from IT Europa and Paul Fileman from Transmentum. Julian Lee from TechnoPlanet and Adam Harris from Transmentum hosted the interactive panel. The topic was “What do VARs and MSPs need to do to remain relevant in the future channel?”

It was clear that the IT industry continues to grow in most areas. More hardware is going out of the door than ever before. Managed service contracts are growing exponentially. One of the biggest challenges for VARs and MSPs to do recurring revenues is billing better and faster. As the market shifts from big-ticket sales to many smaller monthly amounts, this task will become more mission critical. VARs and MSPs who do this well will dominate their competition.

Each stakeholder from a key sector in the market weighed in on the topic. Distribution, represented by Alex Tatham of WestCoast, said the hardware side of the business is growing but SaaS solutions are growing at a faster rate. He also sees that streamlining operations and billing clients effectively will be paramount to the channel’s success.

Carl West represented the research side and showed how the overall market is expanding and that Cloud and managed services are definitely on the fast growth track. He also talked about the effect in the channel as the IT, POS and Telecommunications sectors collide. The definition of IT channel may be changing in the process.

From a channel news media perspective, Alan Norman from ITEuropa explained how some of today’s fastest growing vendors were unknown from just a few years ago. These new cloud-based companies are fuelling the way IT is consumed and delivered. It opens up the opportunities to a wider group of channel partners as the ease of use continues to improve. End-users are gravitating to these newer solutions primarily because of cost-efficiencies while gaining a competitive advantage.

Business coaches who are on the front lines helping the VARs and MSPs to build their business were represented by Paul Fileman and Adam Harris from Transmentum (Main partner of VARTrends event). They provided some solid insights of what they are actually seeing on the ground. Some of the key challenges include the right business vision and leadership; Hiring the right people; Improving the sales skills to pitch operational expenditures instead of capital costs; And streamlining their business on all levels.

Julian Lee’s presentation on twenty-one ways for VARs and MSPs to improve their business got the attention of the audience. It outlined several things that other successful VARs and MSPs are already doing. Lee added “VARs and MSPs like this because it clearly points to what they can do to improve their game immediately. It motivates them to do another and so on. This advice comes directly from what we learned from other successful VARs and MSPs”.

Adam Harris’s presentation on the “Road To Recurring Revenues” allowed the attendees to work in groups to do some interesting self-assessments. The revelations were amazing. Each was able to benchmark where they are on the road to building recurring revenues. This was followed by the top 10 secrets of the most successful VARs and MSPs to give the audience a good sense of what the best of the best are doing.

The afternoon featured 6 sessions on a variety of business topics including digital and social marketing strategy, business vision, latest sales tactics, hiring and keeping the right staff, implementing project management processes etc. Every topic is a mission critical requirement for the next generation channel.

The “Taster” session was a fun social way to wrap up an intense day of educational content. Everyone was put into groups of about 10 people to discuss their issues, challenges and share ideas. Everyone was allowed to share their perspective and give their take on the topics discussed. We also did an exclusive Taster session for vendors who had questions on the European channel and how it was best for them to grow their partner base.

The evening was a fantastic social networking experience as we all gathered in the local pub overlooking the famous MK Stadium. During dinner we also got a taste of Nigel Risner. He had some fun exchanges with the audiences as he answered at least twenty questions. His humorous and sometimes serious comments, resonated very well with the audience.

The event continued at 8 am the next day as we prepared for a 3-hour motivational high-energy session with Nigel Risner on the topic of leadership. You simply had to be there to experience and understand the full impact of this session. We all got to understand what it means to be in the room if you are in the room and why you should probably leave the room if you are not fully in the room. We got to understand what sort of the four animal types that we belong to. It was quite interesting to learn how different personality types communicate with others. The delegates were asked to think of a company that they were impressed by and why, then challenged to do something similar to improve their company the next day. Everyone needs to understand this, as it will help your team and clients attain levels you never thought possible.

After being enlightened and motivated by Nigel, delegates were ready to roll up their sleeves and get down into more serious training workshops throughout the afternoon. StorageCraft delivered a three-hour boot-camp training workshop in marketing, selling and implementing BDR solutions. Other VARs and MSPs were in the Transmentum coaching breakout sessions to tackle a variety of business topics. The great thing about the Transmentum coaches is that they stay with the VARs and MSPs long after the conference is over! That level of handholding and support is what it takes to really succeed.

Everyone went home pumped up with some powerful knowledge and advice to start building a bigger, better and stronger business the next day.

It seems impossible to pack more educational content into a 2-day conference, but we will try in the upcoming four VARTrends events planned for 2016 in the UK. Book your seat early, but start now to leverage the VAR Office Suite resource immediately. See www.varofficesuite.com, www.varcoach.com, www.vartrends.com and www.varmastermind.com for more information. Watch some videos from attending vendors at www.ecntv.tv (click the VARTrends UK tab).

Julian Lee