This week, I had the pleasure of attending my first CMIT Solutions Annual Convention and meeting service providers, most of whom use the Intronis ECHOplatform to deliver cloud backup and data protection to their small and medium-sized business customers. As I make my way back from beautiful Park City, Utah, I can't help but reflect on what a cool experience it was.
Lessons from the experts
In addition to having conversations with more than 60 CMIT Solutions franchise owners, I sat in on many interesting sessions. This included a panel where six industry thought leaders shared their perspectives on current trends and challenges facing service providers and customers, as well as talks from sales and marketing experts on how solution providers can successfully manage common challenges.
Intronis was chosen to present one of the several "Storytime" sessions offered at the convention. In these sessions, CMIT Solutions partners like Intronis teamed up with franchisees to shine light on their successes. Intronis Co-founder and VP of Channel Development Neal Bradbury took the stage with Dan Reilly, president of CMIT Solutions of Northern Colorado Springs. Dan discussed how he leverages Intronis’ fixed pricing model to bundle backup and data protection services into every managed service contract he signs, and how it has streamlined the sales process and generated new revenue for his business.
Another highlight of the event was the awards banquet, where I sat with Partners who compared strategies and lessons learned. We also had the opportunity to present two awards to Partners who achieved astounding growth in the past year with their use of Intronis solutions.
There were four common themes that I heard again and again throughout the conference that I think offer important lessons for service providers.
1. It's not all about the solutions; it's about delivering value to your customers.
A big piece of delivering value is keeping it simple. Whether it’s the number of options you present on your proposals or how you price out your invoices—keep it simple. As Dan Reilly put it, “Confused customers don’t buy.” They might not need to know all of the details about how things work on the back end. They might just want to know that if their building goes up in flames, it won’t put an end to their business.
2. Get trained in sales and marketing.
You can have all the best tools, but if you don't know how to build the business case for them or overcome sales objections, you are facing an uphill battle. Take advantage of resources that enable you to communicate your value proposition more easily to prospects and stay top of mind with regular communications such as newsletters.
3. Strong hiring practices are critical.
One Partner who I had lunch with made a statement that struck a note with me. When discussing hiring support employees, he put it simply: "I can teach someone about the technology, but I can't train someone into a new personality." This is something that can be easily overlooked in the short term.
Maybe someone has the perfect technical skill set, and you’re tempted to quickly bring them onboard, assuming they’ll learn faster than some other candidates. But it’s important to understand if they’re a good fit for your business. Will they interact well with your customers and prospects? Are they going to drive your NPS scores up or down? Ultimately, keep these questions in mind when you’re hiring your next employee.
4. Community is important.
There is a huge wealth of experience you can draw on from your peers (service providers and non-service providers alike). Network at every opportunity, ask lots of questions, and share your successes. Attend events, join LinkedIn groups, and participate in peer accountability groups, which are proven to help improve success rates. If you can't find one, start one!
That’s a wrap
The CMIT annual convention was the perfect opportunity for the Intronis team to meet with many of our Partners. I look forward to re-connecting with the business owners I met in Park City throughout the year. If you attended the event and want to share your thoughts, be sure to add a comment to this post!