Q: My MSP is based near Seattle, and we got hit by a major ice storm recently. It got me thinking that the bad weather might be a good sales tool. How can I use the weather forecast, before or after a storm hits, as an opportunity to warm customers up to new services?
Getting customers interested in new services can be difficult, but severe weather gives you an additional reason to take important conversations off the backburner. If you don’t have one in place already, set a standard protocol to reach out to your customers and go over their disaster recovery plans and their recent backup sets before the storm hits. This will also give you the opportunity to look over their current agreement and assess whether or not any additional services need to be put into place. Are they backing up onsite and in the cloud? Will they have access to email in the case of a power outage? Use this as an opportunity to have an engaged conversation with your customer.
To help your conversation go smoothly, we spoke to Scott Bennett and a few of your peers. Scott is the director of North America partner management at Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda, and he focuses on helping MSP partners become more successful by helping them build and sell a portfolio of services. He shared his advice on how you can successfully sell more services to your clients when you’re checking in before or after severe weather hits.
Approaching customers before a storm
Every customer and situation is different, but every customer needs to understand why backups are important. Whether you live in California or New England, data loss is something any customer can experience. Our California partners remind us that even though there isn’t much inclement weather in the state there’s still a chance for power outages due to infrastructure upgrades.
Even if the storm is approaching quickly, it’s never too late to talk about data protection. Call your customers to discuss their current services and what solutions they need to fill gaps in their disaster recovery plan. Do they have all the services they need to withstand a severe storm? Will they be able to recover their data if something happens to their onsite copy?
Matthew Ritchie from Computer Network Services recalls that prior to Hurricane Matthew they discovered that one of their client’s backups was not storing correctly. By catching the problem early, they were able to deploy file-and-folder backups to ensure all the client’s important data was stored offsite.
Having a conversation about the approaching storm can also make customers a little afraid and uncertain about how this might affect their business, says Scott. Sometimes that’s just what you need to persuade a customer to take action because the reality is these things can happen. Businesses flood or lose power, power surges can fry servers, and data can be lost. It’s much better to be proactive when it comes to severe weather than it is to be reactive.
Use real-life scenarios and statistics to highlight the value of these services. Case studies can come from what you’ve seen with your own customers or someone else’s, but look for a story that speaks to the type of disaster you’re trying to help them prepare for. These things are real, they happen, and here is someone it’s happened to. What was the outcome for that company? What was the monetary impact that proves that this is a case to be reckoned with?
Approaching customers after the storm
In the unfortunate case that something does happen to one of your customers during a storm, help them however you can, but don’t hesitate to revisit the topic of what they can do to prevent this problem in the future. One of the best times to have this conversation is when your customer is feeling pain or they’ve witnessed a situation first hand. It’s like going to the doctor when you aren’t feeling well; you’re almost willing to pay anything to get rid of that ailment. The concept is similar. After being affected by a storm, your customers can see the value of backup and disaster recover, and they’re more apt to take preventative measures to avoid going through it again.
Having a conversation with your customer about adding additional data protection does not guarantee that they’ll decide to implement it. However, if you follow Scott’s advice, you can try to proactively bring customers on board before the next big storm hits!
Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.