We caught up with Mark Sokol, vice president of product marketing and branding for ConnectWise, at the company’s annual IT Nation event in Orlando last month. Asked for the latest developments in the popular IT business management software, he mentioned several new marketing functions and integrations.
“We visit partners all throughout the country and find out what other tools they use in their business,” says Sokol. “A common one is email marketing and tracking. Email tools typically cost them money, accumulate data, and then don’t feed into anything else—certainly not into ConnectWise’s sales tracking.
“So we reintroduced our own CampaignDirector module, which incorporates the same functionality, but in a way that leverages our business suite as a whole. CampaignDirector gives partners the ability to quickly create really nice-looking emails, pick a list, segment that list, and target it with upsells or additional services, or maybe even just stay in touch with a newsletter.”
After eliminating partners’ need for a separate, siloed email application, the next challenge, Sokol says, is making it easy for email recipients to reply, and to know which email effort prompted which response. “So CampaignDirector, again, makes it easy to quickly build a landing page that captures the query/lead and associate it with that particular email.”
Guidance Through Landing Page Creation
“Our partner customers can immediately plug that landing page right into their websites, with that lead information automatically going into ConnectWise, so they can follow up.”
Sokol gave credit to CharTec, a sales and marketing academy for MSPs and a ConnectWise champion, for helping Connectwise help its partner customers navigate the migration from project- based sales to recurring revenue. First among many questions they help answer: “How do we even compensate salespeople?”
Sokol sees sales and marketing as partners’ two biggest challenges. “We, as a software vendor, can help with the marketing challenge. But we can’t do sales for our partners. What we can do is provide access to an organization like CharTec. (Based in Bakersfield, Calif., CharTec is an educational spinoff of IT reseller/MSP ARCC Technology.) They’ll help you find, hire and even manage salespeople for you.”
A third challenge Sokol mentions is retaining talent: “Culturally, how can you keep your technicians when for an extra $5,000.00 or $10,000.00 they can go across the street?” ConnectWise sees part of its mission as helping its users foster good company culture, through partner kits that advise on good IT retention practices.
Core Value and New Features
Sokol adds that since adopting agile development processes, ConnectWise has been able to put out new releases and enhancements on a rapid, continual basis. “By running automated test scripts basically every day, we’ve been able to not only introduce new features, but drive down reported defects within 90 days,” he says.
Ninety-day release schedules, however, come with their own challenges, he admits. First is making sure the market doesn’t lose sight of everything the product has been doing for years, in the push to announce new features.
Sokol: “Even we at ConnectWise tend to get a little complacent. As we add new features we get excited about those, but we have to constantly go back to basics and remind people that we still do these core things that solve basic business problems.
“We need to communicate that through our partners, not through ourselves. Demonstrating benefit through personal VAR and MSP stories is important, and that’s what we’re going to be doing next year.”