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Doing Better with Less: Managing the Paradox for MSPs, VARs, and SIs

In the relentless pursuit of growth during a shaky economic environment, Managed Service Providers (MSPs), Systems Integrators (SIs) and other members of the channel find themselves at the fateful intersection of innovation and efficiency.

How to do better work with less is a question that rings in the corridors of every tech-savvy enterprise currently.  Especially as firms begin to recognize the cost saving and efficiencies impact of Generative AI. So, today I thought I would help our partner readers uncover some of the masterful ways companies are embracing this paradox.

Fewer Salespeople, Higher Performance

Who says you need an army when you can have a special forces unit? There’s a growing trend of focusing on quality over quantity in sales teams.  When you consider the fact that currently B2B tech buyers only spend 17% of their buyer’s journey with sales you can see where you can’t possibly need the same capacity you needed a few short years ago when 50%+ of the buyer journey was spent with sellers. 

On top of that with generative AI offering new automation and time savings for sales it’s also inconceivable that you need the same resources you may have needed just a few short years ago. It’s time to brush off those old KPIs and reconsider how you maximize your sales efforts without the heavy SG&A costs. 

Here’s an example I like to call the Ninja Approach:

  • One leading partner adopted what they affectionately termed the “Ninja Approach,” where they trimmed their sales team by 30% but trained the remaining ones with targeted skills and used automation tools featuring AI to reduce repeat and routine tasks (think updating the pesky sales funnel by AI crawling your schedule, emails and notes vs having to input in your favorite CRM directly). 

  • They focused the new skill sets on social selling (remember those who practice social selling achieve 3x the results of their non-trained peers), digital lead management, and negotiation skills.

  • Like stealthy sales warriors, these sales professionals performed 50% above historical benchmarks kicking their firms into high growth mode without extra sales resources. 

  • They used the great work of their marketing team on digital leads to ensure their sellers had sufficient funnel and the retraining of the sales team to ensure they maximized closes on that funnel. 

  • And they used their automated marketing and sales process management via AI to lessen the clerical and ops burden on their teams. 

  • This is clearly a smart tactic for more and more partners as they consider where their customer revenues are built and managed. 

More ROI with Streamlined Marketing Campaigns

In the world of marketing, more isn’t always merrier. Sometimes, it’s about getting the right bang for the buck.  The old days of simply pushing more and more marketing campaigns into the market are ending. Now, today’s smart marketers are using much more targeted, and data driven campaigns to get to their ideal customers and get those customers to engage. And they are using AI to help them isolate the best customers to pursue using their own historical close and retention data.

Here’s an example of Precision Bombing, Not Carpet Bombing:

  • A visionary MSP we work with shifted from a broad, scattergun approach for marketing to a targeted, data-driven campaign strategy.

  • They used generative AI to hone down their prospect lists; searching for ideal prospects who match their most productive clients today. 

  • Then, by focusing their efforts on specific customer segments and personalized content using ABM (Account Based Marketing), they managed to reduce marketing spend by 40% while increasing lead generation by 60%.

  • That’s a winning formula more partners would be smart to adopt.

From Physical to Digital: The Future of Marketing

Why pound the pavement when you can surf the digital wave?  We have seen since the advent of remote work and ever decreasing efficiency of costly in-person sales activities. Sure, that industry event you always attend may be a great networking event, but as a constant diet it won’t get you all the leads you need and it’s a resource and budget drain for your entire organization. 

Here’s an example that uses the best of events without the costs and hassles: 

  • Virtual Trade Shows. With physical trade shows going the way of the fax machine, a prominent SI decided to invest in virtual trade shows.

  • Not only did they save on the logistical nightmare, but they also managed to reach a global audience, increasing their lead conversion rate by 70%.

  • They focused their events vertically, providing content that mattered to the industry their participants worked within vs generic content. 

  • Their lead funnel grew, their sales grew, and their travel budget didn’t – that’s a win win!

The Art of Lean Operations

Lean doesn’t mean gaunt; it means muscular, focused, and efficient.  Generative AI clearly gives partners the fire power to reduce resources while improving operations.  Some of the innovations we are seeing partners use to improve their operations effectiveness and lower costs using AI are impressive.  (See our latest report Generative AI Analysis for more information on channel use cases – it can be downloaded here 

Here’s an example: Automating for Agility

  • An innovative MSP implemented automation across various stages of customer service and operational management. This included help desk, usage, billing, and renewals. 

  • This allowed them to achieve a 35% reduction in operational costs, all while enhancing customer satisfaction.

  • Talk about a digital six-pack!

Conclusion: The Sweet Symphony of Less

Doing better with less isn’t about cutting corners or compromising quality. It’s about redefining efficiency, creativity, and innovation in a manner that would make even a Swiss watchmaker nod in approval. For MSPs, VARs, and SIs, this is a journey of transformation, where less isn’t a reduction but a concentration, a distillation of efforts into something pure and potent. 

So, dear reader, the next time you look at your organization’s structure and wonder how to do more with less, remember the wise words of a certain technology and communications channel expert (wink, wink I mean me!)  “It’s not about having fewer pieces on the chessboard; it’s about making every piece a queen.”

Now, that’s a game we’d all love to play. #savethechannel



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