IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

The New Normal MSP: Page 3 of 4

Learn what separates channel pros who were ready for the challenges of the pandemic and are now thriving in the new normal. By Colleen Frye
Reader ROI: 
MSPs accomplished a V-shaped recovery in 2020, with both revenue and profit on the rise in Q3 and Q4 after a disastrous Q2.
OPERATIONALLY MATURE MSPs cut costs, leaned into sales and marketing, and selectively eased financial terms for customers.
MANAGED SERVICES and an MRR model sustained MSPs through a quarter of dried up projects and lower hardware/software sales.
REMOTE WORK, CLOUD, and increased need for cybersecurity will be permanent fixtures of the “new normal.”

Some Temporary Changes May Be Permanent

Channel pros also had to implement changes to communicate with existing customers as well as continue generating new business.

Videoconferencing systems like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, of course, have been the go-to for most. Oren says he likes the more personal aspect of video sales calls and customer meetings with both parties at home. In addition, he finds there are fewer gatekeepers. “If a company needed help, let's say remote desktop or to button up their security, that came straight from the top. And so the virtual meeting was usually [with] a decision maker [and] if they were happy with what they heard …  it was almost a done deal after the first call.”

Walsh believes video sales calls and some amount of customer meetings are here to stay as everyone has gotten comfortable with the format and both decision makers and salespeople have found it saves time.

Don Baham

Baham sees that for the future of on-site work too. “We've gotten very creative with what we can do remotely,” he says, which includes security assessments that previously would’ve required an on-site technician. “It keeps the technician in the office to do work on other things, and saves the client money as well,” he says.

He does worry that lack of face-to-face contact over the long term will make relationships less sticky. “I think we've got to balance that when things start turning around,” he says. “We may choose to continue to do some things remotely, but go back to doing in-person for some things or at some frequency.”

The service desk is also impacted by not being physically together to help each other out, Baham says. “We've had some challenges with some client support issues and productivity and working through tickets and time to resolution.”

Walsh says some MSPs are addressing this with open Zoom or Teams meetings, something Baham has been considering. “With everybody logged in …  it's kind of a reminder that we're still working together,” Walsh says. “And then you can unmute yourself and say, ‘Hey, I'm stuck on this. Anybody got an answer for this?’ So you still get that casual exchange of information.”

Working remotely also brought security even more to the fore for many MSPs, notes Oren, as they now faced the same concerns as their customers. “We spent a good portion of probably Q2 and Q3 of 2020 kind of rebuilding our defenses and in building up new ones,” he says.

As a result, Oren’s focus has permanently changed. “Our culture almost shifted from ‘we're an MSP and we do security’ to now ‘we're a cybersecurity company and we happen to do IT services.’”

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