In 2019, when Kaseya acquired ID Agent, a cyber security company I built, it’s because they saw something different–something that separated my company from everybody else. And when I see a start-up I want to invest in, it’s not because they’re like all the other similar companies; it’s because they’re doing something differently, and they know how to share their value. Likewise, when I was coaching hockey, I put each player where I thought they’d excel–where they had shown me they can perform at their best. They stand out as a center, winger or a defensemen, and so I trust their talents and take a chance.
One of my main goals as a channel advisor is to be a mentor. I love building partnerships and meaningful relationships with my clients. I want them to know I’m on their side and have their back. Once that happens, and I know their company and their mission from back to front, I’ll be able to tell them (or help them identify) what makes them different from everybody else.
Because let’s face it: the channel space is a crowded one. There are vendors and MSPs galore. There’s a lot of noise. And not all of it is good.
So how do you stand out from the crowd? How do you attract the right MSPs, secure investment or sell your product or service, and ultimately grow your business?
Let’s start with what not to do.
My years of being on both sides of the relationship–as a vendor and an MSP; a business owner and an investor–has given me tons of insight into what works and what does not. And you know what doesn’t work?
Thinking that everyone else has it figured out, and so you have to follow suit.
The tech space is about innovation. It’s what we’re known for. And yet, in the highly competitive vendor space, everyone looks and sounds the same and MSPs have a seriously hard time cutting through the noise.
There are simply TOO many vendors doing and selling the same thing, in the same way… and there are only so many people lining up for a piece of the pie.
MSPs are looking for value, and they are looking for vendors to help solve their challenges. Give it to them. Figure out exactly what problems your dream MSP is looking to solve, and solve it.
Be practical. Create sales tools, downloads, and creative how-to’s that help MSPs learn something new. Show them “How to Sell X vs Y” or “A Visual Guide on Why Our Product is Better than Z.” Make it simple. Make it engaging. Make it easy for them to know why they need you.
And now for the top three things you need to do.
Now that you know the basics, let’s take a deeper dive. Here are my top three tips for standing out in the MSP vendor crowd:
- It’s not about your product. *gasp!* Seriously. I’ve seen one too many companies get bogged down in all the bells and whistles of their product while completely ignoring how their product helps solve one of the Six Critical Business Needs of the MSP you’re selling to. (It’s no surprise that ignoring these needs and how you can meet them = many lost opportunities to grow.) So your product–a new online wallet to store cryptocurrency, for example–has enhanced security and supports more types of coins than other versions. Great. Those are the bells and whistles. But how does it serve the MSP’s business goals, target audience, and bottom line?
Trust me when I say that most MSPs are trying to figure out how to do at least one of the following:
·Increase EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization)/Valuation
(We’ll go into these six highly important needs in more depth in a future post.)
- Invest in Sales and Marketing. So you’ve figured out how to meet a need. Now you have to let people know it! Many MSPs struggle with promotional stuff, so vendors have to invest in them by teaching them how to market and sell the product. In my experience, most vendors only invest in technical training, and while this is obviously important, if an MSP can’t sell the goods, knowing how to implement the tech doesn’t matter.
- Differentiate, differentiate, differentiate. Most vendors sound (and often even look) the same. Cyber security companies, for example (my old stomping grounds!) always default to the “hacker in the hoodie.” We’ve seen it before… hundreds of times…! Walk me through how you’re different.
One of my absolute favorite things to do is to get on my boat out on the South River, cruise on out to Chesapeake Bay and spend the afternoons meandering lazily along the water. There are tons of both new and old houses dotting the coastline along the way. When I have guests with me, I always find it interesting to see which ones they comment on. It’s always different. Some will notice the few mega houses with manicured lawns; others will notice the ones with a bunch of water toys and jetskis hitched to a dock; for others it’s quaint little weekend cottages up on the bluffs overlooking the water.
Each home stands out for a different reason, and each passerby values something different. They aren’t all looking for the same house, with the same features. They notice something that satisfies their unique needs and desires.
As an MSP channel-focused vendor, you offer something important. It won’t be for everyone. But it will be perfect for some (or hopefully many). Get crystal clear on what you offer, and what makes you different, and then learn how to communicate it. What will make an MSP stop and take a second look? What will make you stand out from all the other houses on the river? From the other vendors at the trade show? That’s where your value is.
Building a channel program or stepping back and reassessing your value in the MSP channel space are big steps. As a strategic advisor, I can help. Let’s figure it out together.