Ask Intronis: Should my MSP switch customers to an advanced firewall?

Posted by Lauren Beliveau on Jan 30, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Q: When we bring new customers on board at my MSP, we give them an all-inclusive service, which includes a free basic firewall that we integrate into our offering. Some of my techs have been pushing for us to move to a next-generation firewall instead to help minimize risks. We would probably have to increase the cost of the packages for our current customers if we did this though. Is it really a change we need to make? What are the benefits of switching, and how can I explain the transition to our current customers? 

We’ve talked to quite a few MSPs that have taken a similar approach. They’re offering a basic level of security to their customers, but they’re realizing they need to start offering a more robust solution. While a basic firewall can offer some protection, the reality is advanced threats can still sneak through. We know that conversations with your customers about increasing the price might not be easy, but in the long run a more robust solution could save them from having to pay hefty ransoms down the road or deal with costly downtime that could be caused by a breach.

To help you decide if this is the best option for your MSP, we talked to one of our Systems Engineers, Kyle Marsan. Kyle shared his advice on why MSPs should consider moving their customers to a next-generation firewall and what you should focus on when you’re trying to convince current customers to move to a more advanced solution. 

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Ask Intronis: How can I use severe weather to sell more services?

Posted by Lauren Beliveau on Jan 23, 2017 7:39:00 AM

Q: My MSP is based near Seattle, and we got hit by a major ice storm recently. It got me thinking that the bad weather might be a good sales tool. How can I use the weather forecast, before or after a storm hits, as an opportunity to warm customers up to new services?

Getting customers interested in new services can be difficult, but severe weather gives you an additional reason to take important conversations off the backburner. If you don’t have one in place already, set a standard protocol to reach out to your customers and go over their disaster recovery plans and their recent backup sets before the storm hits. This will also give you the opportunity to look over their current agreement and assess whether or not any additional services need to be put into place. Are they backing up onsite and in the cloud? Will they have access to email in the case of a power outage? Use this as an opportunity to have an engaged conversation with your customer.

To help your conversation go smoothly, we spoke to Scott Bennett and a few of your peers. Scott is the director of North America partner management at Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda, and he focuses on helping MSP partners become more successful by helping them build and sell a portfolio of services. He shared his advice on how you can successfully sell more services to your clients when you’re checking in before or after severe weather hits.  

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Ask Intronis: How to create an effective 12-month marketing plan

Posted by Lauren Beliveau on Jan 9, 2017 7:15:00 AM

Q: Even though we have a small marketing department at my MSP, for the past several years we’ve created a 12-month marketing plan. But, every year we’re too ambitious and end up shelving it a few months in. How can we create an effective marketing plan that we can use consistently throughout the year?

Creating a marketing plan is easy, but following it can be difficult. This is a common struggle that most businesses face for numerous reasons. Maybe the plan is too difficult to execute or too lengthy to look back on, the goals aren’t clearly defined, accountability isn’t assigned, or there’s a lack of resources and unforeseen market changes. While you may not have had luck in the past, creating an effective marketing plan is achievable and can be a great tool to successfully guide your team.

To help you create an effective marketing plan to carry with you through the year, we consulted Raj Khera, the CEO of MailerMailer. Raj works with numerous MSPs to help them excel in their marketing efforts, whether it’s helping them create a newsletter to send to their clients each month or a well-crafted email, Raj helps MSPs generate marketing success. To start your New Year off on the right foot, here are Raj’s tips for creating an effective 12-month marketing plan.

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Ask Intronis: What should I keep in mind when choosing a CRM tool?

Posted by Lauren Beliveau on Jan 2, 2017 8:21:00 AM

Q: As my team continues to grow, we’re looking into CRM tools to help organize our sales efforts. What are some things I should consider when choosing a CRM tool?

You’re certainly on the right track. A good CRM tool can keep your team organized as you start to grow. As you accumulate more clients and foster more relationships, a CRM tool can help you pull all sorts of information together, such as phone numbers, addresses, contacts, and even notes, allowing your entire staff to be on the same page.

When you start searching for a CRM tool, there are a number of factors you need to consider. Most importantly, you want to find a solution that can grow with your business. To give you pointers on how to find a solution that is the best fit for your MSP, we spoke to Ellen Krupp. Ellen is the in-house CRM expert at Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda, and she works tirelessly with the sales and marketing teams to integrate new functionalities and ensure that everything continues to run smoothly. Here are her tips on what your MSP should consider when looking for a CRM tool.

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Ask Intronis: How can I price my managed services appropriately?

Posted by Lauren Beliveau on Dec 26, 2016 7:50:00 AM

Q: At the moment, we’re using pricing tiers at my MSP to standardize our services and make it easier to price out new clients. While this seems to help sales go more smoothly, we’re second guessing ourselves when it comes to service. Some of our clients are high maintenance and require a lot of support, so it seems like we might be losing money. Going into the New Year, how can I price appropriately to fit the needs of my clients without wrecking my margins? 

Pricing appropriately can be a challenge for MSPs, especially when you have standardized pricing for all of your customers. Some customers may be larger than others and some simply might need more support, so finding the right balance can tricky. While you may not be looking forward to evaluating and adjusting your pricing structure, now is the time to make sure you’re positioned to be profitable in the coming year.

To get advice on how to price appropriately as an MSP, we spoke to Chris Johnson, the director of business development and strategy at Wheelhouse IT. With more than 15 years of experience in the IT channel, he’s seen numerous approaches to MSP pricing. Here are his tips on how to price appropriately in the upcoming year: 

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Ask Intronis: How should I handle a disgruntled employee?

Posted by Lauren Beliveau on Dec 19, 2016 7:14:00 AM

Q: My MSP has a few large accounts, so our technicians are responsible for protecting a lot of sensitive data. My worst nightmare is having a disgruntled employee do something to deliberately compromise these relationships or undermine our security measures. We do our due diligence to protect the data, but there’s always that human aspect that worries me. How should I handle an unhappy employee if the problem does come up?

Dealing with disgruntled employees isn’t easy, and if it’s handled incorrectly it can be detrimental to your MSP business. So we can certainly see why that’s your worst nightmare. Thankfully, there are symptoms you can watch for so you can catch a problem early on and diffuse it before there are serious consequences.

Dealing with disgruntled employees can affect multiple parts of an organization, so we sought advice from Quiana Roy, our human resources coordinator, and Mark Conway, our IT system administrator. While an IT department tends to have a reactive role in this type of situation, an HR department usually takes a more proactive approach. But, both departments need to collaborate to effectively handle the situation and protect the business.

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Ask Intronis: What trends should my MSP take advantage of in 2017?

Posted by Lauren Beliveau on Dec 12, 2016 7:11:00 AM

Q: This year was a big year for my MSP, and I’m really hoping to continue to move my MSP forward in the coming year. What IT trends do you think my MSP should be ready to take advantage of in 2017?

Congratulations on your growth! 2016 was a huge year for many service providers, and we hope 2017 will bring you additional success. With so many ups and downs in the past 12 months—a 300-percent increase in ransomware attacks, TeslaCrypt handing over the keys, NASA moving to the cloud, and even Delta’s outage—this was certainly an eventful year for the IT channel.

To give you a jump start on what trends you should capitalize in the upcoming year, we spoke to Neal Bradbury, the senior director of business development at Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda, about his 2017 predictions. He shared advice on not only up-and-coming security trends, but also marketing and sales trends that are starting to emerge in the channel.

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Ask Intronis: What are some pros and cons of virtual environments?

Posted by Lauren Beliveau on Dec 5, 2016 7:37:00 AM

 Q: My MSP is growing fast, and we’re constantly adding new clients to our managed services. We have a lot invested in maintaining customers’ infrastructures, but we’re looking for additional ways to support our customers so we can continue to expand our practice. One thing we want to do is focus more on virtual environments. What are some pros and cons of virtualization?

Virtual environments can help growing SMBs by providing flexibility. Instead of having to replace backup appliances as they grow, a virtual environment can give them quick and easy scalability. Before you deploy them for customers, though, there are a few things to keep in mind.

To help you weigh out all of the pros and cons of having virtualized environments for your customers, we spoke to our Product Management team. They outlined the benefits and challenges associated with virtual environments and what steps you need to take in the planning process.

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Ask Intronis: How can I become a stronger leader?

Posted by Lauren Beliveau on Nov 28, 2016 7:38:00 AM

Q: I’m working for a break-fix IT provider right now, but I see a tremendous need for MSPs in our area. To capitalize on this segment of the market, I’m thinking about opening my own business. As a woman in the IT sector, I feel like I’m constantly trying to overcome gender stereotypes within the channel, and I’m wondering how that would affect my business. How can I overcome this and become a strong leader?

Owning your own business can be very rewarding, and you shouldn’t let anyone or anything stop you from pursuing this goal. Unfortunately, gender stereotypes are still a real issue in IT, and women seem to be questioning careers in technology more and more. In 1984, 37 percent of all computer science graduates were women, compared to 18 percent today. The gender gap in technology continues to increase, and by 2020 there will be over 1.4 million jobs in computing-related fields, but women are projected to fill only 3 percent of these roles. More than ever, women need to feel empowered to take on leadership roles in the IT community—and opening your own MSP business can not only empower you, but those around you as well.

To share hands-on experience and advice with you, we talked to Betty Bruce, the director at SYGNVS Integrated Solutions and the past president of a local professional women’s group. Betty has been in the computing industry for almost 30 years. She started out in software consulting and saw the MSP space as an opportunity to grow. Betty has been an inspiration both inside her business and in the local community, helping women feel confident pursuing their careers. Betty shared some words of encouragement, as well as her take on the qualities an effective leader needs to have.

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Ask Intronis: How can my MSP achieve more growth?

Posted by Lauren Beliveau on Nov 21, 2016 7:29:00 AM

Q: A couple years ago we only provided break-fix options for customers, but now we offer full managed technology services. Growth was rapid at first, but it seems to have hit a plateau. While I’m thankful for how far we’ve come, I believe there’s still room for us to grow and better serve our customers. As the year comes to a close, how can I evolve our strategy to achieve more growth in the coming year?

Congratulations on transitioning your business into a managed service provider. Making this crucial step can be difficult, but it will enable you to grow your MSP business tremendously. However, your business expansion aspirations do not need to stop there.  You should always look for ways to add more value to your existing customers and invest in ways to recruit new clients.  These two areas are something that, Brian Babineau, our General Manager, constantly talks about with our own team and encourages constant improvement on. 

By the sound of your questions, you’re thankful for the progress you’ve made but want to do more.  We posed the same scenario to Brian as part of this edition of Ask Intronis. -

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