In the United States, like many countries around the world, inflation has spiked over the last year, and we’ve seen the Federal Reserve react by raising interest rates.
While this eases inflation and encourages recovery, it also has a forward impact on business investment. Borrowing becomes more expensive, and companies can’t know when rates will drop again — all of this impacts their ability to build new infrastructure and spend on new services, at least for some time.
But amid all this anxiety is actually some good news for MSPs. In times like these, companies need technology more than ever to drive efficiency. An increase in product and labor costs tends to encourage businesses to rely more on services, not less. And economic uncertainty means your clients will want more cost flexibility — something that subscription services generally provide.
In short, MSPs are uniquely positioned to solve the new challenges their SMB clients are facing — and there’s actually tremendous potential for growth in this time of uncertainty. Here are just a few ways that you can alleviate your own stressors while acquiring and retaining more clients:
1. Reduce support demand by adopting automation and AI
Perhaps the best way to control costs is by streamlining your internal processes. Adopting new technologies can allow you to do more with limited headcount, and to focus your team’s efforts on more engaging, growth-oriented projects.
By turning over routine tasks to automated systems, you can increase staff efficiency while reducing the risk of human error and potentially catastrophic misconfiguration. A modern, integrated cyber protection solution, for instance, might include vulnerability assessment tools that alert you to unpatched software — and can automatically retrieve and install the latest updates.
Artificial intelligence, meanwhile, can help MSPs keep up with the latest cyberthreats. Did you know that the average lifespan of a malware sample is now a mere 2.3 days? With threats evolving so fast, it should be clear that legacy, signature-based approaches to detection are insufficient on their own. Modern cybersecurity tools rely on AI to detect malware based on the malicious behaviors they exhibit — preventing significantly more attacks and saving you time on support and remediation.
2. Boost client retention by demonstrating your value
One thing MSPs often struggle with is communicating the value they’re delivering — like how many attempted cyberattacks they’ve successfully prevented. This problem is amplified when you use disparate products that don’t neatly integrate: pulling together the reporting alone can take hours or even days.
Your clients may be disinclined to drop IT and security services altogether: these are no longer an option, after all, but a business imperative. Still, it’s important for client retention and satisfaction — especially in a time of economic uncertainty — that you make your value fully understood.
You may already be doing this to an extent, perhaps in the form of in-person quarterly reviews, which also offer an opportunity to make data-driven recommendations about changes to the clients’ service plan. The right tools make all of this significantly easier. Some service delivery platforms, like Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud, can even automatically generate “Executive Summary” reports based on your previously configured settings for the individual client — taking advantage of their holistic viewpoint into backup and cybersecurity settings and activity across protected workloads.
3. Protect yourself and your clients by emphasizing cybersecurity
The volume and sophistication of today’s cyberattacks is unlike anything seen before — and cybersecurity can no longer be seen as optional. Emphasize to clients that they must subscribe to at least a baseline level of security services if they hope to remain your client.
It might sound harsh, but it’s the responsible thing to do. Clients without these services actually pose a costly risk to your business:
- They’re expensive to support, being more likely to suffer harm from cyberattacks
- They drain resources away from clients who are actually paying for security services
- They could be infected with ransomware or other cyberthreats that then spread to your own business or to your other clients
Include cybersecurity services in every service tier. Be prepared to explain (as an IT services expert) their necessity to the client — and to respectfully walk away from those who won’t value your opinion or do their part to invest in protection.
And as long as you’re adjusting service packages, don’t be afraid to raise your rates. Inflation has hit MSPs too. If you’ve been holding off through the pandemic to make things easier on clients, now is the time to help yourself — and your clients — by reclaiming those profits and reinvesting them into your organization.
4. Simplify management by consolidating the chaos of solution sprawl
One of the biggest challenges that growing MSPs face is tool sprawl. Adding entirely new solutions to your stack comes with time-consuming training, documentation and workflow challenges — and because different vendors’ software so rarely integrates well together, it can even open up dangerous protection gaps that are tough to identify before disaster strikes.
With these concerns in mind, MSPs are already trending towards tool consolidation and a unified delivery platform. According to original research by Vanson Bourne, a whopping 92% of MSPs state that they’re already consolidated vendors to some extent; 70% plan to consolidate even further.
This approach simplifies endpoint management by allowing you to configure a single protection plan that covers all current and new endpoints with backup, anti-malware protection and automatic patching — all through one central portal. The benefits speak for themselves: lower licensing fees, fewer resources spent on training and management, and countless hours saved when recovering from incidents. And by enabling you to add new tools to your service offering without installing additional software, integration make it easier than ever to upsell clients.
These topics and more were covered in a recent Acronis-led panel session, where we heard from an A-team of experienced channel professionals as they shared the real-world knowledge that has helped countless businesses navigate the ups and downs of a shifting economy. For more information, view the on-demand recording.