Q&A with Sherweb: Top tips on how MSPs should pivot their business

Josh Budd
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Mathieu Leblanc, Sherweb
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Mathieu Leblanc, Sherweb

Winner of best MSP partner programme at this year’s MSP Awards, Sherweb's head of partner success Mathieu Leblanc weighs in on what partners should do to protect themselves and their customers during COVID-19

What will be the biggest challenges for the channel over the next 12 months?

This pandemic is something that none of us have ever lived through before. It has completely turned our lives upside down. But before I get into the challenges we're facing, I want to emphasize that if we work together as a community, we have a much better chance of getting through this.

That being said, based on what we've seen and heard recently from both Sherweb and channel partners, shifting to a work-from-home setup will continue to be a major priority in the next year. We see this happening for end-customers and businesses within the channel alike.

Some partners find deploying remote work solutions more challenging than others. For example, partners that have remote access, PSA tools and RMM solutions already in place can accomplish this significantly faster and easier than those that do not. Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams are also choice products for enabling WFH.

Another big challenge for the next 12 months will be rebuilding revenue in specific verticals or industries that were hardest hit by COVID-19. The hospitality sector is one example which has had a direct revenue impact on some channel partners.

Net new sales are also down, and project services have been postponed or officially delayed. This will have an additional impact on the channel as we move forward, and partners will have to strategize and plan carefully to get new revenue generation back to where it was prior to the pandemic.

How should MSPs pivot their business amid the COVID-19 crisis?

The number one priority right now should still be getting the hardware, remote access, tools and technology deployed for working from home, both for partner organizations and their end-customers.

Many MSPs and Sherweb have already completed that particular step. Next, channel partners should focus their energy on what the next few months and beyond look like. There are a few important points here to think about.

The first one is all about staying in constant communication with your customers. Regular touchpoints should be a priority going forward. To make sure it gets done, MSPs can try assigning objectives for reaching out to a certain number of customers per week to individual sales reps, tracking results for accountability.

Communicate by phone as much as possible—you want a live conversation. MSPs should also prioritize their communications, focusing on their largest, most profitable customers first.

Secondly, MSPs should keep a close eye on their cash flow and accounts receivable. Partners with automated or electronic payment systems in place have got through this process much easier than others without them, having fewer concerns about cash flow.

A big tip here would be to do an audit of your customer base. Try to identify the customers hardest hit by COVID-19 and focus on them first with regards to your accounts receivable and communications strategies.

Also try to reduce your expenses as much as possible. This is not a time for ‘nice-to-have' expenses, it's "must-have" expenses only. Your team can be a great source of inspiration for this. Getting together and asking them for their input on where your business can cut expenses is a good way to go about that.

A few more tips: bill all projects up-front as much as possible. Try to flip break-fix clients to managed services. And don't discount unless you have to. If you are discounting, only do so on the services aspect of things and use a pay-back agreement where you can.

MSPs would also do well to explore and leverage any government programs that are available in Canada, the US and beyond. Make sure you're familiar with them, that you apply as soon as possible and that you leverage as many resources as you can.

What lasting changes do you expect customers to make to IT after the COVID-19 crisis has passed?

For many end-customers, I think remote work solutions will continue to be in high demand. End-clients will also be reviewing their expenses the same way MSP businesses are, so channel partners might want to emphasize the added-value elements of their offerings.

Online events are also becoming more popular. Offering solutions that facilitate virtual gatherings are therefore another opportunity for MSPs to take advantage of more frequently in the future.

How is Sherweb supporting its MSP partners right now?

Sherweb's main focus to support partners during this challenging time has been on our COVID-19 Resource Hub. It's a central area where all of our communications for support, offers, promotions and resources are made available to our partners and the public.

The Sherweb COVID-19 Resource Hub has content partners can use in their own marketing campaigns, documents to help MSPs transition to remote work and also combines all of Sherweb's current promotions and trials into one place. We've also included resources from external consultants and business leaders with advice and strategies that MSPs can implement in their own practices.

We're also gathering ongoing feedback from Sherweb partners through a regular calls and advisory council meetings to track their needs as they evolve and change throughout this crisis. We then make sure feedback and recommendations are shared with the rest of the channel.

Educational resources are another way we're supporting our partners right now. We have virtual events available to help our partners train staff in competencies or areas they lacked before, or maybe couldn't get around to doing before."

At the end of the day, we're taking our own advice. We're in communication with our partners as much as possible in order to support their needs in any way that we can during these difficult times.

What's your personal highlight for your business over the last 12 months?

Last December we unveiled our revamped partner program, an accomplishment I'm very proud of. We introduced new and improved benefits for Sherweb partners, including an expert partner P2P network, growth accelerator program, marketing development funds and sales performance incentive funds.

On top of our existing services like migration, onboarding, training, pre-sales and other functions, the updated partner program represents our mission at Sherweb to help our partners succeed. Feedback has been great so far, which tells me that we've taken a strong step forward in providing meaningful value for MSPs.

While that was a major highlight for me, I also want to share that I was very impressed with how quickly we came together at Sherweb to support not only our partners, but our internal employees at the start of the COVID-19 crisis. It was, and still is, all hands on deck. Even though we're physically apart, the teamwork we've seen has been phenomenal.

I'm also proud to say that the feedback we've received from partners about Sherweb's response during the pandemic has been extremely positive. We're all in this together, and it's good to know that partners feel supported despite facing so much uncertainty.

What does it mean to you to win this award?

It's another sign that Sherweb is moving in the right direction and delivers services that our partners appreciate and benefit from. It's always an honour for the hard work our team does to be recognized by our partners, peers and the greater community. Thank you!

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