The 2020 IT Sales & Marketing Boot Camp, produced by sales and marketing organization Technology Marketing Toolkit (TMT), wraps up today, sending “home” over 4,500 virtual attendees with information aimed at helping managed service providers and IT business owners move their businesses forward despite the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Like so many other industry events this year, the 13th annual Boot Camp, which includes both members and nonmembers of TMT, transformed from a planned live event in Nashville to four days of online educational content, technology sessions, networking opportunities, and vendor expo hall. This year’s theme of “Fight Club,” chosen long before COVID-19 dominated the news, was apropos of the current climate facing MSPs.
“When we picked the fight club theme we had no idea what we’d be facing,” said CEO Robin Robins, speaking on a live stream to more than 1,000 attendees on Tuesday, the opening night of the event. Nonetheless, she added, “We will come out of this stronger.”
Robins reported results from a recent survey of TMT members on the current state of the channel. The good news is, so far, 83.4% of those surveyed have not layed off or furloughed full-time staff, and more than 77% are very optimistic or somewhat optimistic the economy will recover soon or by year-end/early next year.
Top concerns around keeping their business running, according to respondents, are MRR, cash flow, sales/marketing/lead gen, and getting paid. In addition, 40% anticipate losing up to 20% of revenue as a result of COVID-19, and 19% expect sales to be down 21-40% this year. However, nearly 34% expect sales to stay flat or grow.
Going forward, Robins said, IT business owners must be ready to capitalize on new opportunties—and there are some, according to respondents. These include cloud and remote workforce solutions (43%), cybersecurity (19%), obtaining new clients from failing MSPs (11%), and “regular” IT services aimed at a niche (11%). Robins said she expects co-managed IT engagements to offer opportunity as well.
In this new economy, Robins stressed, three key things will change: buyers will become more discriminating and cost conscious, customer acquisition costs will go up, and what buyers are lookng to buy will be different.
However, she told the audience, “The fundamentals of business success, of sales and marketing, have not changed. … How successful you are is up to you.”
On day 2 of the event, five MSPs, all members of TMT's elite Producers Club, competed to win a car and be named TMT spokesperson of the year in the annual Better Your Best Contest. The contestants were Charles Swihart, founder of Preactive IT Solutions; Peter Verlezza, managing partner of SMB Networks; Tom Glover, president of Pineland Cogentes; Pedro Nunez, president and CEO of IT Management Solutions; and Will Nobles, founder and CEO of Vector Choice Technology Solutions. Attendees voted for the winner after the presentations.
Swihart (pictured), who also competed last year, was named the winner Thursday night.
Prior to the Better Your Best announcement, Robins had a Q&A with Marcus Lemonis, businessman and star of the TV show The Profit. Other guests throughout the week included Mike Michalowicz, who shared tips from his new book Fix This Next; Greg Crabtree, author of Simple Numbers; Donald Miller, author and CEO of StoryBrand; and Jocko Willink, retired Navy SEAL, author, and podcaster.
Finally, Boot Camp members donated over $115,000 in a charity auction during the event for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for Children in Memphis, the first $30,000 of which was matched by Robins. Over the last four years the TMT community has raised more than $700,000 for the hospital, with a goal of $1 million.
Robins left attendees with some parting advice: “I hope this conference has inspired you to raise your game and get more focused on your business.”
Images courtesy of TMT