Just a few years ago, our company did less than $1 million in gross sales. We had a couple of vertical market clients in healthcare and transportation, but we were trying to convert to a managed services model from break-fix and we were resource challenged. When someone left the company, we had to take time out for hiring and training, which further stressed our resources.
At the time we had our own NOC, but we weren’t offering 24/7 service because we didn’t have the manpower for around-the-clock coverage. And when we got busy, the help desk supervisor had to leave his post because he was needed elsewhere. But you still have to respond to the tickets.
A lot of resellers will tell you when they get to the office they have maybe 50 or 60 tickets waiting. They’ll read through them and leave some of them—not every ticket gets a response. Why? Because time is money. You have to have your people on the bigger issues.
We looked at our bottom line and asked ourselves, “How can we make more money with what we have?” Then one day I shared my frustrations with our rep from Ingram Micro. After I explained our challenges, he said, “Listen, why don’t you use an outsourced NOC? We use a company called NetEnrich.” That opened a dialogue about services the distributor offers, like the NOC and a help desk.
But I was hesitant to start. I asked a lot of questions. I thought my clients weren’t going to like it. After doing our due diligence, though, we made the move. And from that day forward, we never looked back. Through Ingram’s services, our clients’ systems are managed and monitored, and problems are resolved. The points are very healthy for us so our team can be doing other things while the more routine tasks are taken care of.
Winning Larger Deals
Now we’re partnering with Ingram on cloud services, and we’re winning bigger contracts. For example, we won an e-tailer because we could offer that customer NetEnrich. And through our partnership with Amazon Web Services, we got an expert on the phone from Amazon to talk to one of our customers who went with us because the service was exactly what he wanted.
There was another potential client we approached with managed services who had been with a different IT provider for 14 years. This was time for a final decision about whether the owner would sign with us or not. He called us in and said point-blank, “I like you. But one thing I really need to know is do you have a resident Cisco expert for phones?” The company had a Cisco unified communications system that was aging and sometimes unreliable, and he didn’t want to switch providers unless we could service that system.
I asked him, “If I can get a phone expert we partner with to have a conversation with you and explain how we work together, would that make a difference?” After he said yes, I reached out to my community within Ingram and partnered with a Cisco dealer in New York who then spoke with our potential customer. About two weeks later the owner decided in our favor, and we’ve been managing the company ever since. The phone system did eventually die, however, so we quoted a new system through our New York partner who went to the customer site with our team of engineers and did a successful installation.
Through our partnerships, we now do more than $2 million in sales—without adding head count. It’s not that we’ll never add another employee, but we don’t have to add exponentially for every X dollars in sales. We sell about nine different cloud solutions, including hosted Exchange and backup, but we still don’t need someone in-house to manage and monitor those solutions.
Many times we go to our distributors because we need a product or solution. But they can offer so much more. When is the last time you leveraged or partnered with your distributor—made them a part of your team? They can be your board of advisers. Call them.
Partner, Datasmith Network Solutions
LOCATION Walpole, Mass.
FOUNDED My father started the company in 1986. I took ownership in 2000 and my partner, Steve Sylvia, joined me in 2008.
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 5 engineers, 1 salesperson, 1 admin, plus my partner Steve and me
COMPANY WEBSITE datasmithnetworks.com
COMPANY FOCUS We are a managed services and cloud provider that advises businesspeople about making their businesses more productive and effective.
FAVORITE PART OF MY JOB Experiencing the “a-ha” moments with my clients
LEAST FAVORITE PART I absolutely hate mundane operational tasks.
WHAT PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW ABOUT ME I teach 11 spin classes a week. Cycling is my passion.