By Luke Walling, VP of Sales and Operations, AVG Technologies
Resellers are constantly trying to find the right balance of driving higher quality delivery of services and increasing sales. It's a slippery slope and it’s hard to justify investing more time in the selling effort perhaps at the expense of customer service. It’s not that Solution Providers don’t value the role of sales in the overall business process, it’s just not the average resellers sweet spot. Rather, resellers are more typically aligned with the product and technology function and see it being way more constructive to invest their time in development and integration – plus, its just more fun. So, in effect, key partners are looking to reduce the amount to time spent selling and need more time in the day for service delivery.
In the area of Security Services, the challenge facing solution providers is knowing which type of security services to provide and the level of expertise required for them, according to an assessment written by the 2112 Group for AVG. They added, on the high end, security services entail security information management, firewall monitoring and management, incident response, intrusion detection and prevention, vulnerability scanning and remediation, and malware protection. Each has a high level of investment to develop the service delivery capabilities, inclusive of software, training, certifications and staffing.
The cost of building a perfect security practice is often prohibitive and, in many cases, overkill for SMB solution providers. When it comes to small businesses (10 to 100 seats) security is an onerous proposition. These businesses don’t require high-end, enterprise-grade security applications – most don’t have firewalls or IDS/IPS, and they have little need beyond elementary antivirus, anti-spam and content-filtering applications. To deliver these basic security protections as a service requires investing in expensive block licensing from traditional security software vendors, or being locked into a referral program to expand a vendor’s services footprint. While several security vendors have implemented “pay-as-you-go” licensing to make their antivirus and security software more accessible to solution providers delivering managed services, the cost in time and money to setup and deliver software is considerable for small solution providers serving small businesses. The availability of easy-to-adopt, easy-to-price and easy-to-deliver security services is needed in the SMB channel and marketplace.
As our friends at Channelnomics point out, the best way solution providers can improve their selling effort is by introducing security as an attached sale to other products and services that they’re already selling. Fortunately, most organizations have some kind of backup solution and disaster recovery strategy in place. A security service that incorporates anti-virus, content filtering and malware scanning could be an attractive add-on – and incremental upsell opportunity — that would easily fall under the umbrella of a more comprehensive data protection strategy.
Solution providers can then tout a medley of security services that not only secure data, but bolster other solutions, with critical offerings such as trouble-shooting, break-fix, threat scanning, reporting and Web filtering. That, in turn, creates greater value for the customer and higher ROI overall. The ability of balancing this challenge is often the difference between business success and failure.
As we’ve noted before, many managed service providers also struggle with of talent retention, scalable infrastructure and cash flow. Success requires an understanding of these and the mechanics of the managed services business model.
Background: At AVG, our core Partner product, CloudCare, was designed to be an ongoing work in progress – continually improving as a best of breed and easy-to-use cloud based administration platform that allows remote deployment and management of IT and security services for SMB’s at an affordable price. There have been a series of product releases since October 2012, when the AVG CloudCare IT administrative platform with the award-winning AVG AntiVirus technology and AVG Content Filtering services was introduced commercially. In early 2013, AVG introduced the commercial edition of AVG Remote IT, an essential - and free – capability that allows SMBs and reseller partners to remotely access and deploy services, and trouble-shoot a wide range of issues on client devices. In March 2013, AVG added to the versatility of the service with the launch of AVG Email Security Services to expand protection to establish safer, more efficient, and spam-free business emails. The AVG CloudCare platform with AVG Remote IT, AVG AntiVirus and AVG Content Filtering is available immediately via AVG reseller and managed service partners in the US, UK and IR. AVG Remote IT is offered for free. For all AVG CloudCare services, customers pay only for the services they use with a convenient monthly billing option. To find out more and become an AVG CloudCare partner, go to www.avg.com/cloudcare.