My Big Takeaways

In this episode of the IT Provider Network, I want to share with you some of the top takeaways from the massive ConnectWise IT Nation conference in Orlando last week.

3500 IT Peeps and plenty of cocktails

Over 3500 attendees attended the two-day conference put on by ConnectWise, makers of ConnectWise Manage, Automate, Connect and Sell and the newly announced ConnectWise Unite.  As always it was an outstanding conference for anyone in IT.

My Crew

I took Brian and Alan my Chief Revenue Officer and Service Manager to the conference this year.  We started the conference with the IT Nation Gives event where about 30 of us spent the morning at the Primrose Center, a home for disabled adults.  We divided and worked on several projects to improve their lives.  Painting, Yard Work, Baking Cookies with the Residents and of course delivering some technology to help the residents!   It is such a great event and Heather Ptak from ConnectWise does a great job putting together the IT Nation Gives event.  Thank you, Heather, for being one of the good ones!

IT Nation Gives

David Bellini, Terry Rossi, Brian Atchison and Heather Ptak -IT Nation Gives 2017

For me, this year was my TENTH IT Nation and boy has it changed since the first one I attended in 2007.   Back in 2007 the conference and the hotel were paid for by ConnectWise.  I remember attending the first one and thinking that it was one of the best conferences I had ever attended.    Just for the record, I attend a lot of conferences, and not just in IT,  I attend Social Media, Digital Marketing, ERP, Podcasting, and other conferences if the topic interests me – I am a constant learner.

 

The IT Nation Meetup of Podcast Listeners

I caught up with a bunch of IT Provider listeners at the Off the Grid party.  It was really great to be able to put a face to a name and to hear the podcast is making a difference for real people struggling to build, grow and scale their business.  Thanks so much for taking the time to seek me out.

I also want to thank everyone for the emails and questions.  I am going to do a Q&A show next so make sure you call or write and I will do my best to help you solve your challenges.

So back to IT Nation, IT Nation is still one of the best shows you could possibly attend.  Go next year regardless of the PSA or RMM you use, it totally doesn’t matter.

About the Company

For those of you that are not ConnectWise partners,  let me tell you a little about the company ConnectWise.     Started by Arnie and David Bellini, two brothers, who had and still have a small MSP in the Tampa area.  ConnectWise has become a powerhouse in the IT and Managed Services Arena because of its domination with their PSA software.

I remember back in 2007, I was looking for a PSA system, although I had no idea that was what it was called back then, and I stumbled across ConnectWise and the whole managed service industry.

It has everything I was looking for in the software and it opened my eyes to another industry that I could launch into that would replace the MRR or monthly recurring revenue that was fading from our ISP, our Internet Service Provider Business.

The Product(s)

Anyway back to ConnectWise,  they have been killing it for years and the software, at least the in-house developed software, key to the success of our business.  Their product suite includes:

  • ConnectWise Manage – A PSA or Professional Services Automation suite
  • ConnectWise Automate – A RMM or Remote Management and Monitoring tool
  • ConnectWise Sell – A quoting tool that integrates with the tools I mentioned.
  • ConnectWise Control – Screen Sharing and Remote Control

 

At during the keynote, they announced ConnectWise Unite which I’ll tell you about in a minute or two.

The conference kicked off with Arnie Bellini giving the Keynote to the audience of over 3000 people.  The main stage presentations are always impressive.  The stage and A/V setup is first class.   This year’s keynote was centered around two themes.   Owning what you deliver to differentiate yourself and embedding yourself into your customers.

Own Your Square

Keynote – Technology Squares

  • Different Customer Types need different types of technology
  • Own your Square
  • Where is the overlap and opportunity?
  • What resources do you have to dominate a square?
  • What are you passionate about?

 

Arnie talked about some stages of engagement with our customers and this is what resonated most with me.

Embed Yourself

He outlined the phases or stages of engagement as:

  • Land
  • Install
  • Embed
  • Manage
  • Renew
  • Expand

Most MSP’s never deliver the “embed” phase and therefore cannot own their square.  Office 365 example.  Do you just put your customers in the cloud or are you really enabling them to get the true value from Office365?   They are your customers need, the services we offer and the solutions available in the marketplace.   We can’t really control anything but what we choose to sell and deliver so we should make the most of it and make it our own.  Are you really helping your clients or are you just installing and managing it?

IT Nation Strategy

Reframe Your Clients

This reminds me of another analogy I heard in a Reframe Your Clients pre-conference workshop on Technical Account Management. If you are not familiar with Reframe your Clients I suggest you check them out at www.reframeyourclients.com.

I stumbled across Reframe Your Clients, well not really, because Denes Pernhauser, the founder of RYC, is a killer marketer, a few years ago.  His approach to the MSP business and what we were offering at that time was so refreshing.  Denes and his team created a methodology and now some incredible tools to help us deliver what we are selling.     Back to the analogy.

Myles Olson, Denes’ right-hand man, and another really smart guy, talked about the definition of a car.  Every card has   4 tires, seats, a steering wheel, an engine etc. but there is a huge difference between a Ford Fusion and a Porsche.  Does your customer really know what they are buying?  For that matter does your service team know what you or your sales guy sold.   We are in the expectation business and sometimes the hype doesn’t match the expectation.

ConnectWise Product Roadmap

Some cool feature updates on the products – I have to be careful here because I am under NDA for some of this stuff.

  • Automate on the Web/Browser – 2018 the manage computer screen will be available in Manage as a tab
  • Facetime like support feature in Manage so that a customer can use their camera to show you stuff and/or scan a barcode…not sure how useful this feature will be without a barcode.
  • Network Diagram based on the Automate Probe. Looks like the demo screen of Auvik
  • ConnectWise Unite – Manage Monitor and Bill Cisco and Amazon AWS. Meraki, Spark, Umbrella, and Stealthwatch from a single pane of glass. Check it out at  connectwise.com/tryunite

 

For me, the CISCO part of the keynote seemed a little much.  I, for one, have no interest in selling any more cisco than I am now. I sell Meraki and I deliver Umbrella as part of my service or as an al-a-carte item if a large client wants it.   You can have the rest of the product line.  It isn’t  fit for my small business client base.   I sat in the audience and wondered how much of the cisco “partnership” had to do with the recent Autotask and Datto merger.

You can watch Arnie’s keynote complete at https://youtu.be/QFMzNAL69Y4

Before I Forget

Some other tidbits I gathered from other sessions at IT Nation.

#1 reason b2b buyers buy from who they buy from – consensus among the decision makers team – you are no longer selling to one person.  In fact, you should think of your POC as your inside salesperson.  You need to arm them with everything they need to sell your product or service to their company and to their team.

Different Team Members have different buying objectives, priorities and criteria reasons and you need to cater to their fears and buying.

Check out Mark S.A. Smith’s new book From MSP to BSP for more information on this topic

So that’s it for episode 23 of the IT Provider Network.   This weekend I am going to do a Q&A episode so please send in your questions to terry@itprovidernetwork.com or call 1-609-451-8104.   I would love some voicemail question because …duh this is a podcast.  If you’re comfortable leaving a message make sure you include your name and company name so I can give you a shout out on the show.

Please spread the word about the podcast.  We just crossed over 10,000 downloads and I can’t thank you enough for listening and sending in your feedback.   I am truly grateful for all of you and I hope that you find value in this show.   If you can figure it out please give me a review on iTunes.  I will put a link in the show notes for that and … of one other thing

Thanks to Roy Taylor and Alan Lawson for signing up for Coinbase this week.  Bitcoin had quite a rollercoaster of a week but it is trading at about 7300 bucks right now.   If you are even remotely interested in the crypto-currency revolution then open an account with Coinbase.  You can start with just $100 bucks.  If you do it, they will give you an extra $10 bucks in bitcoin and give me the same $10 bucks.  Not going to make either of us rich but it lets me know your listening and I appreciate the effort.   The signup link is at the show notes at itprovidernetwork.com/itnation2017 or startbuyingcoins.com

Get Some Coins Man!

 

One other thing.  If you are looking for professional liability insurance, better buying power, free marketing assistance and much much more, check out this special deal for new ASCII members.

 

Sign up for ASCII before January 15th and get two months free.  If you do sign up make sure you let me know and list the IT Provider Network Podcast as the referral company.  I will get $200 bucks for Xmas presents.

Contact trevor@asciigroup.com for membership information.

 

For more information about ASCII check out episode 15\ of the IT Provider Network  http://www.itprovidernetwork.com/how-to-get-free-marketing-assistance/

 

I have been a member for over 6 years and love the close-knit group at ASCII.

 

So I broke the cardinal rule.  I have multiple calls to action

 

  1. Send in your questions to terry@itprovidernetwork.com
  2. Give the podcast a review
  3. Think about investing a couple bucks in cryptocurrency. Sign up for Coinbase
  4. Take advantage of the ASCII end of the year offer
  5. Check out Reframe Your Clients at reframeyourclients.com
  6. Oh and remember. We Are IT!  Go out there and Own Your Square!

Ask your questions or share your feedback
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•Email feedback@itprovidernetwork.com (audio files welcome)


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