IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

ASCII Success Summit: Execs Offer Tips on the Cloud, Marketing, and Sales

At the ASCII Success Summit, ASCII execs provided valuable sales tips and advice for IT resellers and managed service providers, particularly around the cloud. By Elaine J. Hom

ASCII executives advise on delivering from the cloud and boosting sales and marketing teams.

At the ASCII Success Summit in Boston yesterday, the crowd of ASCII members, made up of VARs and MSPs, gathered to train, educate, and above all else, network.

"When they come to our event, they walk away with information plus a ton of great connections," says Jerry Koutavas, president of ASCII, a community of IT resellers. "We provide that time to connect. Other events don't provide that time." In addition to face-to-face networking time, ASCII is also helping members with social networking on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In. "We generate a lot of good conversations between the client and the members, and it's a great way to get their company names and brands out," adds Koutavas.

The event included keynotes and sessions from Autotask, Microsoft, ConnectWise, Google, Lenovo, plus many other sponsors. It was clear that the intent of the Success Summit was to help these SMB IT service providers overcome IT service obstacles and succeed at sales. While each keynote doled out advice and tips to the partners, advice was also being given out by the ASCII execs as well.

"Invest in marketing," says Koutavas. "Invest in sales people who know how to sell." Koutavas points out that most VARs have done all sales and marketing on their own, especially those VARs who are SMBs themselves. With the cloud becoming an integral part of a successful sales strategy, the margins that resellers rely on become volume-based. Some ASCII members estimate that it will take four times as many clients to make the same margin with cloud services as with traditional IT services. This volume play requires resellers to refocus their energies.

"When you talk volume, you talk about a focused message that's easy to understand and close business, and I think marketing and sales are one of the biggest factors to that," says Koutavas. "If VARs can't get their message down, they're going to have some challenges."

Jean Alexander, vice president of business development at ASCII, also gave advice revolving around the cloud.

"Build your business further into the cloud," says Alexander. "When it comes to managed services, make sure you always know where your customer's technology is. If you're also working with the cloud, those two pieces go together so well. Then the partner actually has control of the customer, and becomes a trusted advisor, not just a reseller."

ASCII also offers "Best of Show Awards," which were presented in a ceremony at the end of the day. Voted on by the ASCII members attending the show, the awards went to:

  • Best Software Solution – Microsoft
  • Best Channel Incentives – Level Platforms
  • Best Hardware Solution – HP
  • Best Channel Programs – Level Platforms
  • Best New Product – Datto
  • Best Distribution Sales Support – Tech Data
  • Best Revenue Generator – Intronis
  • Best of Show – Reflexion
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