In the midst of the digital transformation of businesses from “brick and mortar” to online just-about-anything-as-a-service, even the smallest of customers are quickly coming to the realization that they can’t afford downtime, and therefore require backups. Enter the managed service provider (MSP)—the trusted advisor who can help companies choose the stuff that needs backing up, back it up on-premises and/or to the cloud, and recover it when needed.
Selling Backup Isn’t That Easy in the First Place
Sure, you see the value of the offering, but the customer may not. The pricing, selection of systems protected, recovery options, etc. can all cause a customer to become confused on what they’re getting for their precious budget, eroding their confidence in your ability to properly protect their environment. What you need is a foolproof way of selling backup that gives the customer confidence their data is protected and can be recovered—all for a reasonable cost.
So, What’s the Easiest Way to Sell Backup? Here Are Some Tips
I’m going to cover three simple steps for you to follow—some are easy and some require a bit of work. But in the end, you’ll have a better game plan on exactly how you’re going to get your customers to purchase backup from you.
Step 1: Understand You’re Not Selling Backup
Wait… What? No customer cares about having duplicate copies of their data somewhere else. They don’t even care how fast the data transfer rate from a cloud-based backup is during a recovery event. What they do care about is their business staying operational. When you think about what it is you’re really selling, it should become clear it’s continuity, availability, uptime, and undisrupted revenue. That’s what you’re selling.
Step 2: Define the Service, Scope, SLA, and Pricing
This is a MUCH longer topic than this blog allows for—pricing alone could span a series of blogs, so I need to be succinct and try to provide some high-level direction. Here’s the rub: if you get any of these three parts to your offering wrong, causing the customer to become either confused or uncomfortable, they’re out and you lose.
It’s important to carefully define a simple offering that spells out what will be protected (data, systems, applications), how often, how quickly it will be recovered, and what it will cost. Pricing needs to be equally simple, demonstrating value. Some MSPs focus on per-GB-type pricing that is irrespective of the number of endpoints being protected. Others construct value-based offerings that align with system and applications tiers of criticality and price them accordingly. For example, a server backup offering might include one frequency of backup, recovery SLA, and quarterly recovery testing; whereas a workstation backup may have a far less frequent backup schedule and a recovery time well beyond that of the servers.
When you define the service, scope, SLA, and pricing, you’re doing much more than just building out a service, you’re creating something that should communicate to the customer “I understand what’s needed to keep your business operational.” This will also establish your credibility.
Step 3: Don’t Sell it at All
Backup can easily be seen as an element customers may or may not truly need. As you begin to think about how you want to present this to your customers, it’s definitely not a “want to back up your workstations?” conversation. Instead, it’s a “what kind of impact would four hours of downtime cost your business?” conversation. Let them do most of the talking about what’s important to them about their business being available, and then tell them how you can meet the need.
Put backups into business terms, focusing the discussion around your customers’ ability to keep their business running, no matter what disaster comes their way. In many ways, the details of how and when you back up may be very much irrelevant to your customer. Provide as much technical detail as they ask to know, but definitely don’t sell this as a backup service; instead, sell the end result of your customer being fully operational.
As Easy as 1, 2, 3
While there’s a bit more work than what can be considered “easy,” adding a service—any service—can be as simple as the three steps outlined in this blog. Focus not on the service you’re providing, but the value it brings to the customer. Concentrate your efforts on keeping your offering simple and easy to comprehend for a nontechnical audience. And, finally, use a discussion around the business impact the absence of the service may have and work backwards to your offering.
Nick Cavalancia has over 20 years of enterprise IT experience and is an accomplished executive, consultant, trainer, speaker, and columnist. He has authored, co-authored, and contributed to over a dozen books on Windows®, Active Directory®, Exchange™, and other Microsoft® technologies. Nick has also held executive positions at ScriptLogic®, SpectorSoft®, and Netwrix® and now focuses on the evangelism of technology solutions.
Follow Nick on Twitter® at @nickcavalancia