Virtualization Technology News and Information
Customer Behavior Is Changing, and MSPs Must Evolve
Written by David Mason, Inside Channel Development Manager at SiteLock 

Cyber criminals are becoming more lethal and sophisticated, and business owners are feeling the pressure. As a result, they're increasingly leaning on their managed service providers (MSPs) to address important security concerns. 

With that in mind, the MSP industry is at a crossroads. Successful MSPs build their business on meeting customer needs, but this new ask means they risk losing business in the upcoming year - unless they find a way to quickly ramp up their cybersecurity knowledge and offerings.

So what does this new and significant expectation mean for MSPs? Specifically, how does hyper-awareness of cybersecurity threats change the strategy for creating deeper, long-term relationships with customers?

Stepping up to fill the skills gap

In the face of a labor crunch that is predicted to leave 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs unfilled by 2021 (up from 1 million in 2014), CIOs, CISOs and IT security teams at organizations of all types and sizes are increasingly looking to MSPs for help in identifying and thwarting hackers and cybercriminals.

Many MSPs have already felt the weight of this new role. They know they have to do something, but don't know where to begin. After all, serving as a security advisor isn't traditionally a core part of the job description for MSPs. While they've addressed certain aspects of security, customers now expect complete solutions. To respond to security concerns, MSPs need to cultivate deep expertise in security issues and help close customers' knowledge gap by consulting on a wider range of security-related topics.

On the upside, customers are willing to direct significant spend toward solving the lack of security knowledge in their organizations. According to Gartner, MSP spending by customers is forecasted to reach $985 million this year, up 5.5 percent from 2017. This represents a promising business opportunity for MSPs, but only if they're prepared to capitalize on it.

Achieving holistic security expertise

In the quest to acquire expertise in the security realm, MSPs can't settle for operating as a "me too" provider - a service provider that recommends obvious measures without going deeper into customers' unique business needs.

Going forward, the most successful MSPs will offer a holistic approach that provides added value in a few keys ways:

  • Delivering end-to-end security knowledge. Currently, most MSPs don't train sellers to help customers address security concerns. But when a major attack happens, customers will have questions, and MSPs must be able to proactively address those concerns before customers ask for solutions. The ability to provide proactive service builds trust and helps the customer view their MSP as an expert. To achieve this standard, salespeople must understand customers' goals for their organizations and make a plan for their security solutions based on where they hope to go. The result: Customers see that the MSP cares about their success and knows how to secure for it.
  • Selling the solution, not the pieces. MSPs historically provided prescriptive recommendations, and the customer would be satisfied. They could tell a customer which firewall to use, implement a backup strategy, set up control access and leave it at that. Now, MSPs need to take a big-picture approach and provide a holistic strategy, showing customers how the pieces all work together. In doing so, MSPs should provide multiple options of holistic solutions and take the time to help the customer understand how each option works and aligns with the unique elements of the business.

Business owners understand that the security landscape is becoming more challenging. When they turn to their MSP, they expect to find a partner, not a vendor. And that means MSPs need to make sure they're ready, willing and able to serve as the kind of consultative security partners their customers need.


About the Author

David Mason is the Inside Channel Manager at SiteLock where he oversees a team of Inside Channel Executives focused on growing the SiteLock Partner Channel. He has over 11 years of experience growing partner channels in the domain, hosting, backup and security space. He has worked with some of the largest partners in the Hosting and MSP industry, developing successful go-to-market strategies that provide measurable value to end users. 

Published Wednesday, October 03, 2018 10:37 AM by David Marshall
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