Every channel research firm and news media organization talks about the dramatic changes that are happening in the channel. You would have to be living under a rock to not be aware of the current state of the channel. We also know that VARs around the World are also feeling the same pressures. So what?
Remember the story about the frog in a pot of water that is slowly heated up? Sooner or later it reaches a boiling point and we all know what happens to the frog. Simply ignoring the changes will not make them go away.
That said, I have yet to meet one reseller who is not interested in doing something to evolve their business model. It may seem to many that the VARs are just waiting around for something to happen, but it is not true. The vast majority VARs will not just simply implode. Actually, we are seeing more startups coming to market as smart entrepreneurs see the opportunity to fast-track their new MSP business.
VARs are cautiously optimistic and so they should be. There is a perfect storm of several game changing technologies happening and they have to do it right. Mistakes can be costly. Some of these new opportunities will require major adjustments in the way they run their business. For example, converting to a Managed Services business model is not an easy task.
Cloud, Managed Services and BYOD/Mobility are huge business opportunities for VARs, MSPs and ITSPs. Here are 10 parts of what seems to be making up the DNA of the new business model.
1. Move as much revenue as possible to a recurring revenue model. Once you start and get your feet wet, it will be come clearer as to how to do this better as you deal with the individual challenges of each client. Once you figure out your pricing for your managed services, leverage some of the Service Automation and Remote Monitoring and Management tools. This will help you to deliver the services as efficiently as possible as this is how you will save costs, increase your margins and take out your competition.
2. Get into YOUR Cloud by Bringing Your Own Cloud (BYOD). Leverage the multitude of Cloud vendors and private label where possible. If the solution gets the job done and you can protect the identity and ownership of your clients, then it should work. No need to develop your actual cloud infrastructure as many have done it already and are looking to partner (including fellow VARs). Find a way to piggy-back off of their work and investment.
3. Ring the alarm for your clients so they understand the risks of BYOD in their business. Convince them to implement a comprehensive BYOD strategy for compliance and data protection. Everyone at the office will understand and accept. You may also help your clients avoid a big disaster. All part of being a truly Trusted Advisor.
4. Get the best presence possible online. It is an absolute reflection of who you are and what you do. There is no room to mess around with your online image as this is what your clients and new prospects will judge you by. If your online image is poor, then it is very probably that you have already lost a lot of business from clients who saw and ran away. Sometimes it is the things that you do not see that can kill you. Ask yourself, would you really do business with your company if you saw your online presence? Then ask some others that you know to give you their honest opinion.
5. Stop selling stuff and start selling solutions to solve your clients’ business needs. You already know this, so just do it. Is easier said than done? Well, there is a new SaaS tool that can help your sales team to be transformed into powerful IT Sales Consultants – instantly! YES, now it is actually easy to accomplish this task! Every VAR, MSP and ITSP should immediately adopt this tool!
6. Remove the inefficiencies from your business. It is wasting your valuable time and costing you more money than you need to spend. The more efficient you are, the more time you will have to work on more clients and the more profits you will make. Period. Did you know that there are about 16 steps in buying IT products? You can reduce this to just a few clicks and save 80% of your time with an end-to-end online e-procurement tool.
7. If you have enough customers and you do not want more, then you probably should not be in this business. Standing still is a sure way to be overtaken or blind-sighted. You need a solid marketing strategy and to align it with that of some of your key vendor partners. Leverage their marketing strength and funding. Leverage the digital world to the max! Social media, Search Engine Marketing, e-Newsletters/Blogs and more.
8. Ensure your Accounting or ERP solution is up to date and can get you the business intelligence that you need to make smarter business decisions. Accounting is not just to record transactions and pay taxes. It tells the story about your business and if you understand it well, it will help guide you to greater success and a happy ending or exit strategy.
9. Your core job is managing the relationships of your customers because in the end, people buy from people. A proper CRM tool is critical to manage your customers’ relationships. Watch out to not get one that is overly complex that your sales people do not adopt. Ensure that you pick the right one and that everyone will use. A mediocre CRM tool that everyone uses is better than the perfect CRM tool that no one uses! You also need to “marry” your sales process with your CRM so you will need professional help. Do not try to do this yourself unless you are a professional sales coach.
10. Your team represents your company every day. If they are weak, then your success is weakened. Ensuring that you have a well-trained and motivated team is mission critical to success. Hiring the right people for the job will save you on every level. You need professionals who know what they are doing to help you to hire and empower your team with the right skills and attitude to get the job done.
Of course, there are other components to the DNA of a successful VAR such as better management of the lifecycle of their clients’ IT assets; Or doing more comprehensive IT assessments; Or managing deal registrations; Or working better with vendor partner programs; Or enhancing your web presence; Or showing more rich product content on your web site, Or getting group benefits. It is an on-going process and you can continue to build a more successful business over time. You do not need to do all at once!