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Ask an MSP ExpertQ: I run a telecom services business that I believe needs a new go-to-market strategy. Right now, we provide a wide array of telecommunication services to SMB customers, including telephone, video conferencing, broadband, and WAN solutions. But I’ve seen growing competition in my market, and want to head off losing business to other providers. How can I differentiate my business? If we sell backup as a new service offering, what new revenue opportunities could this create for us?

It can be tough out there for a telecom service provider. Many in the industry are struggling to win new business. While the market for these services is getting pretty crowded, you have opportunities to help you stand out from the competition, and you’re right: selling cloud backup is one of these opportunities.

cloud backupFirst off, let’s look at why you’re feeling the pressure. Global business consultant EY published a report that found that the top risks in telecommunications for 2014 were “a failure to realize new roles in industry ecosystems, ignoring new imperatives in privacy and security, and failure to understand what customers value.” There is also good news in the report. It also states that the industry has been innovating strongly in recent years, as telecom providers introduce wider service offerings and new pricing plans.

So, how can you appropriately respond to these risks? Based on EY’s findings, you can address these concerns by expanding your offering and changing your pricing plan. We think that the simple solution to reach both of these goals is to sell cloud backup and other IT services. Here’s why telecom providers should expand their approach to become managed service providers:

Respond to customers’ demands

As the report highlights, small businesses are looking to consolidate their IT services with a comprehensive solution that meets both their IT and telecom service needs.

This presents a huge opportunity for telecom providers to add other IT services to their offering, enabling them to sell complete IT services packages. Cloud backup is an important part of this. Demand for cloud services in general is strong and growing, and offering cloud backup will help you fulfill your customers’ and prospects’ needs, as well as provide other benefits to your business.

Bring in recurring revenue

A key advantage to offering managed services is that you’re able to build a system of recurring revenue. Having a steady flow of cash in the form of monthly recurring revenue (MRR) makes budgeting easier. You will be able to generate more predictable revenue over time. This leaves time to focus on winning new business.

One Intronis MSP Solutions partner who started out as a telecom provider, HTS Voice & Data Systems, achieved healthy growth in part by adding cloud backup to their offering.  Back in 2007, HTS added cloud backup believing it was a way to strengthen their offering because their customers needed to protect their data. The strategy worked. As Lydia McCloskey, Senior Account Executive at HTS, tells it: “The more {customers} we add, the greater the improvements we will see in our profit margins. It’s a great way to help us grow our business.”

Simplify management 

IT service providers manage numerous customers’ IT environments at once, whether through backup services or cloud-enabled voice or video communications. We know you’re busy, and it’s hard to imagine managing yet another service. But by introducing automation into your management process, you can actually free up time to focus on growing your business. You’ll first need to evaluate the tasks that are taking up most of your employees’ time and look for tools that automate those tasks. As you do so, we recommend automating billing, remote monitoring and management, cloud backup, and reporting processes.

Putting an efficient billing process in place is just as important for telecom providers as it is for managed service providers. In an Industry Handbook on the Telecommunications Industry, Investopedia lists investing in efficient billing systems as a key success factor for telecom service providers.

So when you’re looking to add services like cloud backup to your offering, be sure to choose a solution provider that integrates with your RMM and PSA tools. These integrations are important in your backup service because they streamline management and offer flexible billing options.

Protect Internet-connected devices

Cloud backup also helps telecom providers take advantage of the rise in the Internet of Things (IoT). In a 2015 Telecommunications Industry Outlook, Craig Wigginton, Vice Chairman of Deloitte, says there are “plenty of new and emerging opportunities” for those in the telecom sector. Tweet: A 2015 Telecom Industry Outlook says there are many new and emerging opportunities for those in the telecom sector.  He adds that with the rise of IoT, there’s greater need for cybersecurity solutions, and this offers new revenue opportunities for providers of these services.

Telecom providers need to respond to nascent demand for security measures to protect their IoT devices. A secure file sync and share solution allows your customers to easily collaborate, share, and access files remotely from these devices. You can also offer secure cloud backup solutions to your small business customers to protect the information they’re sharing online.

When you’re reselling cloud backup to your customers, be sure to make use of encryption practices, anti-virus software, and educate their users on prevention. Doing all of these things, along with ongoing maintenance and oversight, will help you to fully protect your customers’ environments, including their mobile devices.

As you begin to redefine your go-to-market strategy, we suggest you start off with cloud backup. Once you get comfortable reselling backup, you can add other services that your customers, and your margins, will benefit from having as part of your service portfolio. Not only will you better protect your customers’ telecom and IT environments, but you’ll also differentiate your business from your competitors.

Photo Credit: Dave Catchpole on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.

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.

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Courtney Steinkrauss

Posted by Courtney Steinkrauss

Courtney is an Editorial Associate at Intronis. In her role, she assists in creating and publishing content that helps IT service providers grow their businesses.

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