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Not all partners are created equally

IT PartnersPartners are your lifeline when it comes to running a highly successful managed services business and the wrong partner can spell out disaster. This is why when I work with my MSP coaching clients, I stress the importance of finding the right strategic partners who are committed to working with you towards success, but only if you are willing to work with them.

That is right, working with partners is a two way street, an equal balance of give and take. Like every great relationship we must make some sacrifices and sometimes our strategic partners need to make one.

However, not all MSPs share this sentiment. They are almost like the teenager of today, they have a sense of entitlement when it comes to their vendor relationships. Coming home with their hands out for money or to borrow the car for the night, and when they are told no, they sulk in the corner like a spoiled baby.

When I was running business development with IT Matters, our partners were just as important as our clients, they got the same amount of attention and they were also an extension to our team, like our key employees. Our vendor reps should have been on payroll because they were that important.

Strategic Partners are vital. Robert Betzel at Infinity Network Solutions in Macon, GA summed it up beautifully during our recent annual planning meeting. “We all sell lots of stuff but only a few of our vendors are strategic.”

What makes a strategic partner? Contrary to popular belief, I wouldn’t call your PSA solutions (ConnectWise or Autotask) a strategic partner. Nor would I call your RMM service a strategic partner, they are simply tools to do your work. Would your client call Dell a strategic partner or just a tool they use in their day-to-day work? The same can be said about many of the tools MSPs invest in to simply deliver their services.

So what makes a strategic partner? A strategic partner is someone who has a vested interest in the success of your business. Like your accountant or lawyer but focused on providing the services and products you need to grow your business. A strategic partner is someone who will take your call, help you close an important deal or even hop on a plane to see you to help understand your business more.

Back in my day, Dell, Microsoft, TechData and SonicWALL were the top strategic partners for our MSP business. We also had some local strategic partners providing web development, telephone systems and cabling. Are you seeing the difference between a strategic partner versus a tool you use?

Why am I writing this today? Over the past few weeks, I have consulted with a number of MSPs about setting up partner pages for their websites and wanting to put the ConnectWise logo or ASCII logo and I asked the important question. Why?

End clients or prospects have no idea who they are. Do you see the manufacturing company down the street listing salesforce.com on their website as a strategic partner? Of course not, they list solutions or products their clients will know and know well. MSPs need to have this mindset as well.

By the way, when it comes to organizations that get listed in your marketing materials, only list the ones that matter to your clients. Include the Local Chamber of Commerce, industry associations that your clients would belong to, etc.

Strategic partner relationships are essential to your business. Take the time to invest in yours today, I promise you it will make a big difference in the success of your MSP business.

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