Despite inflation, the IaaS market is ripe for rapid growth, with an expected compound average growth rate of 28.2% between 2022 and 2026. For managed service providers and value-added resellers, this represents new opportunities to make the most of customer demand.
Nevertheless—and I can speak from experience—many MSPs and VARs still fail to exploit the growth potential. Especially when it comes to customers in the small and medium-size business markets, MSPs are often leaving money on the table. As today’s MSPs are increasingly preoccupied with the human and technological complexity of realizing and growing sales, they are losing the time and resources they could spend on product innovation.
The good news is there are ways for MSPs/VARs focused on the SMB segment to help enhance the customer experience and concentrate on product innovation simultaneously. Let’s look at three strategies.
1. Identify and play to your strengths
In the cloud market, identifying your strengths is essential because that’s the first source of potential growth. Which product features are particularly well received? The best insights into which features are powerful come from your digital data. If you sell multiple products, you often offer different additional features or product extensions. If you record your data carefully month by month, over time you can see which components are in high demand or which were selected by customers at the beginning and then later either not used or even unsubscribed.
Alternatively, you can conduct a customer survey. To save time, you can use digital tools to ask customers about individual items and their perceived return on investment. However, it’s also helpful to have a face-to-face conversation with the customer who, for example, has complained or isn’t using certain products in your offering. That way, you can better understand the underlying problem, whether it’s poor functionality, inappropriate use cases, or even a comprehension issue. This insight will simplify the decision of when to allocate more resources, when to get new features to market faster, and when to let some features go.
2. Evolve to be solutions-centric
Growth is all about answering the question of how to build a business in the services industry in the most sustainable way. This should first lead you to another pressing question: Why should the customer stay with you? Many would say because of your unique value proposition or differential factor, but it’s more than just your product differentiation. As your end goal is increasing customer contract value and improving customer retention in the SMB market, the customer experience, solutions offering, and marketing play a crucial role. Here are some tips:
Broaden your portfolio. More and more customers are looking for “all-inclusive contracts” as they dramatically reduce the effort of searching, buying, and installing. You can also focus on offering bundled solutions to increase contract value and improve service quality. Ready-to-consume packages and self-service capabilities help make quicker selections and are often critical to the purchase decisions of SMB customers, who are known for moving through the sales funnel at lightning speed.
Enhance your customer effort score. How effortless is your service? You measure that with the customer effort score, designed to gauge a service’s ease of use, including finding the information they need or ordering a service. In the SMB cloud market, where customers are still reluctant to design their migration and create a digital infrastructure, it is crucial to offer lean, digitized assistance at all stages of the customer journey.
Double down on channel marketing. Consider your sales and marketing strategy: How can customers find you and your solution? How many leads or sales do you generate? Which channels can you use to expand your reach? Improve visibility in the market by working with partners and further developing channel potential.
Be adaptable. Finally, as an IaaS company, you provide a solution to a problem, but as the problems change, so must the solutions.
3. Invest in cybersecurity components of contracts
Globally, as SMBs move to the cloud or accelerate cloud adoption, they have discovered gaps in cloud defenses. For example, according to a survey commissioned by Sophos of SMBs using IaaS, 67% reported that their organizations were hit by ransomware over the last year, and cybersecurity has become the primary concern across the entire industry.
Customers today demand data-driven and automated solutions to prevent, detect, and respond to threats, crippling security breaches, and business disruptions. Security solutions must also enable your customer’s employees to access business-critical resources, applications, and data quickly and securely—for example, through single sign-on and adaptive protection via multifactor authentication. Having a dedicated team of cybersecurity specialists or relying on an outside consulting firm to help build these secure environments and communicate them effectively to your customers is key.
Of course, getting a handle on these areas can take time. The good news is that relying on the channel offers a significant benefit. Many IaaS experts are working daily on innovations, features, and training that will make it easier for MSPs and vendors to deliver and offer the latest products to their customers.
Ultimately, the XaaS/IaaS business is about building more meaningful relationships with partners that lead to a deeper understanding of your customers, the industry, and your business. This, in turn, helps you play to your strengths and overcome weaknesses to expand long-term revenue opportunities in the cloud market.
LAUREL VISOCKY, director of IaaS solutions for Ingram Micro Cloud, is a top-performing sales and business development leader with success selling and delivering enterprise solutions. She is recognized for building solid and profitable strategic relationships with enterprise customers and partners. Laurel enjoys the privilege of working with an exceptional team of cloud professionals at Ingram Micro Cloud and the opportunity to support the vast channel partner base to modernize and optimize cloud solutions for end customers.