The Top 5 Challenges for MSPs in 2017

Nop Srinara, Director, Datto Asia

As a channel-only company, working with our MSP partners in Asia and across the globe is a cornerstone at Datto. Ensuring our partners are set up for success is part of every decision we make. This means that to better serve our partners, it’s important we understand as much about them as possible.

In addition to regular conversations, we decided to ask 1,200 MSPs from across Asia and the world, about the challenges and pain points they face daily, as we make our way through 2017.

To help MSPs everywhere, we put together a list of the top concerns, also providing tips on what MSPs can do now to resolve these issues.

Marketing and Sales: The majority of MSPs struggle with a strong lead generation strategy in their marketing plan.

Tip: Generating leads can be a daunting task, however there are a few things that you can do now to raise your visibility in the marketplace and make sure that the leads that come through are being converted into sales. Firstly, it’s always good to assess whether your current customers are happy, and why they’re happy. Would they recommend you and is there an incentivised scheme you can introduce that rewards them for recommending you to a new customer?

Making sure that you have a good online presence is key – that includes having a website that is useful for your customers, with good online forms that capture the details of visitors in return for useful content that they may like to read. Raising your visibility by sharing thought pieces via social media can also go a long way in raising your credibility, along with hosting free webinars on topics of use to your customers.

Getting out to events, whether presenting or networking will always be a cornerstone for new lead generation, however, throughout this process, it’s important to continue to evaluate your activity, to assess where your leads are coming from, and what’s working and what’s not.

Selling Back-up and Disaster Recovery (BDR): The state of the economy and declining budgets are constant hurdles to overcome during the MSP sales process.

Tip: The bottom line will always be a serious concern for your customers, however they need to know that the implications of experiencing a disaster without having a BDR strategy in place could be far costlier than investing in this service in the first place. From ransomware to natural disasters or clerical errors, having a BDR strategy with up-to-date backups, could be a lifesaver for your customer, allowing them to restore their data to a point in time before disaster, to save important data and avoid critical downtime that could seriously impact their business.

Staffing and training: Recruiting technical talent is the biggest staffing challenge for MSPs of any size. Training and retention are also common struggles for this group.

Tip: Finding the right people begins by crafting a very detailed job description. Make sure to provide potential employees with as much information about the role as possible, especially around required skills and experience. This will help you reach the right candidates and avoid wasting time. Secondly, find out as much as you can about a candidate. The more knowledgeable you are, the better your chances will be of making a good hire. Referrals from trusted sources are the best candidates to recruit.

Referred employees are more likely to be a good fit with your company culture and become loyal employees, so introducing an incentive referral hire programme is a smart move.

When it comes to training and retention of staff, creating a culture for growth and development is critical. Invest in training that will benefit the individual as well as the team and encourage employees to share their knowledge. Allowing employees to request specific trainings, will also instil loyalty and make employees feel valued, which can aid retention.

Growing pains: As MSPs grow, the lack of time and resources prove to be their biggest challenge. Many find it difficult to delegate duties to manage sudden growth and, as a result, operational efficiency tends to suffer.

Tip: Delegation is key here. Invest in partners who are experienced in their field who can relieve you of having to run the show singlehandedly. This could include anything from outsourcing all your accountancy or marketing needs, to employing an HR manager to help you hire the right staff and meet the needs of the existing team. Doing this will not only free up time for you to concentrate on business priorities, but will also provide you with the mind space necessary to take your business to the next level.

Ransomware and cybersecurity: The headline hogger of 2016 isn’t going anywhere. MSPs struggle to keep clients informed and aware of how to avoid the nasty malware threat.

Tip: As always, taking the proper precautions is the best way to protect yourself from any form of malware, including ransomware. In the event you’re attacked, the best way to avoid paying a ransom is to have a proper backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution with up-to-date backups. This will allow you to restore your data to a point in time before the infection and retain your data.

Sharing information with your customers via an email newsletter or by hosting content on your website and directing your customers there, will not only drive traffic to your site, but also ensure that your customers are up-to-date and aware of what they can do to stay protected.  

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