I have been comparing what I thought would happen in 2015 to what actually has happened this year, and have found that many of my predictions have come to fruition. In the area of managed services, I have watched as more and more VARs have learned that becoming a managed services provider (MSP) is the way to go, or they risk forever being in the “friend zone.”
The biggest step VAR business took in 2015 was formally accepting that they must offer some type of managed services (MS). It isn’t as important that they provide the actual MS (this is where a great DVP can come in), but more so that they have a true MS offering.
A big light bulb that went off for VARs is that “if I am not talking to my customers about MS, then someone else is.” Some VARs don’t want to hear this but, in this case, no news is terrifying news. The bottom line is: if your customer has asked about MS, and you don’t have a solution, you are now in the “friend zone.” Your customer will think you are a great bunch of people who come in and install blinky boxes, but will not call you to discuss strategy and business solutions.
As an MSP, you need to have a daily or weekly cadence with the end-customer in order to ensure everything working operationally and technically. That ongoing cadence makes the VAR more of a team member, advisor, and consultant rather than just the VAR who only shows up to sell something. A strong MSP creates a strong partnership with a customer, who will value you for your opinion and, eventually, value your access to IT. Most customers eventually will turn to their trusted MSP for everything, including the routers, servers and other technology, because the MSP has the necessary insight into its business to make knowledgeable and strategic recommendations.
In 2015, VARs realized that it is really dangerous to not become an MSP and, by extension, a trusted partner, valued consultant and important team strategist for customers.