Ask an MSP ExpertQ: Many SMB customers say they want to be increase their cybersecurity posture, but they decide to forego backup and disaster recovery services. How can I convince them that this is still an essential component to protecting their business?

We’ve all heard the horror stories of organizations who dismissed the need for backup and disaster recovery only to regret it later. And, we’ve heard of many ‘rescue’ stories where an organization’s investment in data protection saved the day. Still, some customers are hesitant to invest in these critical services offered by their IT service provider.

To better understand how to overcome their concerns, we sat down with Kyle Marsan, systems engineer at Barracuda MSP. He shared the best approaches to convince customers to invest in the backup and disaster recovery services, as well as some some common obstacles MSPs encounter during these conversations and how to work through them.

Importance of backup and disaster recovery

Backup is sort of like insurance; almost everyone has it, you hope you never have to use it, but if you do need it, you’re sure glad you have it.

It’s important to find a flexible backup solution that is easy to use. This flexibility will allow your MSP business to meet each customer’s requirements within one standard offering.

If your customer just needs to restore a simple file or folder, they may be able survive without it for a short time. However, when an entire machine or virtual environment goes down, backup and disaster recovery solutions can be essential to keeping the business alive.

Backup is particularly important for any company where downtime or lost data would cripple the business. This includes smaller customers with single servers or whose business relies on transactions. Backup is also crucial for anyone that needs to meet compliance regulations. These companies are legally required to keep data for a fixed period of time. Often, this data needs to be secured offsite or fines will be assessed.

The risks of operating a business without backup and disaster recovery capabilities are pretty high. If a server goes down and there is no backup to recover from, it often proves to be fatal to the organization. In these scenarios, most companies go out of business within a year.

While discussing the importance of backup and disaster recovery, it would also make sense for you to mention the need for data protection. Data protection is a critical part of any organization’s security posture and goes a long way in ensuring that the organization can defeat any potential threat of data loss.

Obstacles for MSPs to overcome

Kyle explained several of the challenges he has seen MSPs struggle with:

  1. Customers assuming their current tools include reliable backup and disaster recovery functionality. “Most people understand the importance of backing up what’s on site, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the objection, ‘Why do we need to back up Office 365? Microsoft will take care of it for me,’” shares Kyle. He states that this is not the case and can be a dangerous assumption. With a product as broad and powerful as Office 365, it’s not surprising that the individual user’s data, at some point, takes a backseat to making sure their system stays up and running. Kyle notes that Microsoft’s closest offering to backup for Office 365 is a short term email retention policy, unless someone cleans the ‘deleted items’ folder.
  2. Price. When dealing with the SMB market, price is always top of mind. Even though most companies know they need a backup and disaster recovery solution, they often go with the cheaper solution. This can lead to issues in a true disaster scenario.
  3. Customers picking their services vs. MSP experts prescribing services. One big mistake I see MSPs make, is letting the customer dictate the service they are going to get. The most successful MSPs we work with build their backup and disaster recovery services into the core offering for every customer.
  4. Trying to offer too many solutions. Expanding on the last point, I’ve also seen that some MSPs prefer to let the customer choose the specific solutions the MSP will be using, in an effort to be flexible and accomodating. This often backfires because they end up managing as many as 10 different solutions. While it is great that they are attempting to support the solutions customers prefer, it is unrealistic that their team can master that many solutions well enough to manage them all correctly and efficiently. The most successful MSPs offer one or two solutions that they have hand-picked and vetted personally.

When working with a customer, it’s important for the MSP to both be and be seen as the expert. MSPs should come prepared with suggestions and a plan that will work well for the customer, but that the MSP can feel confident delivering on. This will help the customer more likely to trust, invest, and see value in an MSP.

Approaches for MSPs to take

Often the best approach, is to share real-life stories of when backup and disaster recovery was needed. A “don’t take it from me,” approach. By sharing detailed stories about different data loss scenarios you’ve witnessed in the past and how each panned out, you’ll help illustrate the need for this type of service and highlight the real-life risk customers would be taking without implementing a proper backup solution.

There is also a question of what type of stories the MSP should tell its customers: ‘doom and gloom’ about what happened to customers who did not invest in backup and disaster recovery, or the stories where backup and disaster recovery ‘came to the rescue’ of a customer who did invest in it? Both are viable. After all, one customer’s ‘doom and gloom’ could have been prevented if they were more proactive like the customer that was ‘saved’ by backup.

Another simple way to convince customers is by using statistics related to data loss and backup. These stats can be about the cost of attempting to recover data without backup, such as the average cost of downtime being $5,600 per minute. Or the stat can be something like how 96 percent of businesses with a disaster recovery solution in place are able to fully recover operations. Much like the real-life stories that you share, these statistics can also discuss the dangers of operating without backup in place or the ways backup and disaster recovery saves organizations when disaster strikes.

By using Kyle’s tips and tailoring them in a way that will best resonate with your MSP’s clients, convincing clients to invest in backup and disaster recovery will become a much less daunting task.

Photo: Raw Pixel / Shutterstock

Bill Petherbridge

Posted by Bill Petherbridge

Bill is a Content Marketing Associate at Barracuda MSP. In this position, Bill is a key contributor to the management of the SmarterMSP.com and Barracuda MSP blogs. He also serves as copyeditor for Barracuda MSP content, in addition to maintaining Barracuda MSP's social media presence.

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