Episode 113: How to achieve total MSP market domination

Episode 113: How to achieve total MSP market domination

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Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 113: How to achieve total MSP market domination
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In this week’s episode

  • Are you ready for total market domination in 2022? Now THAT’S something big to aim for this year 😃 In this week’s podcast Paul talks about how to totally dominate your area through systematic, persistent marketing. It’s easier than it sounds because most of the MSPs you’re up against will be doing very little marketing
  • Also on the show this week, the best things to talk about when doing a job interview. There are a few key questions that can make the whole recruitment process 1,000% more effective
  • Plus listen for a great new way of dealing with vendors. This week’s featured guests are attempting to revolutionise the channel and remove a lot of the ‘friction’ between MSPs and vendors

 

Featured guests

Thank you to this week’s featured guests, Matt Solomon and Kevin Lancaster from Channel Program, a platform designed to bring together the most innovative technologies in front of Channel Partners and give them a voice in how companies present, enter and succeed in the channel.

Matt Solomon is a featured guest on Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Matt Solomon has worked in sales & business development for 16+ years. Matt has spoken at more than 150 industry events in six countries and received 40 awards in recognition. Matt started a consulting company, Channel Halo, working with vendors and MSPs on their go-to-market strategies. After having many of the same conversations, Matt and his former CEO Kevin Lancaster decided to team up again and launched Channel Program.

Connect with Matt on LinkedIn.

Kevin Lancaster is a featured guest on Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Kevin Lancaster started ID Agent in 2015. The company took off quickly and was acquired by Kaseya in 2019. He would later go on to start a consulting company, The Venture Mentor, working with high-growth companies looking to scale and raise funding. At this point, after hearing many of the same conversations, Kevin decided to team back up with his former VP of Business Development, Matt Solomon and launch Channel Program.

Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

Show notes

Episode transcription

Voiceover:
Fresh every Tuesday for MSPs around the world. This is Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.

Paul Green:
Hey there, welcome back to the show. Here’s what we got coming up for you this week.

Kevin Lancaster:
And what’s the next big problem we could solve? And we kind of started looking at the friction between channel vendors and channel partners.

Paul Green:
That’s Matt Solomon and Kevin Lancaster. They are two of the smartest people that I’ve met in our world. And in fact, they’ve just launched a whole new business based at solving a series of problems that they’ve noticed between vendors and MSPs. There’s some very, very smart thinking going on. And I’m looking forward to interviewing them later on in the show. We’re also going to be asking about recruitment. January is a classic time to be doing recruitment because there are so many good people around, but are you asking the right recruitment questions? Let’s find out later in the show.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.

Paul Green:
There is a beautiful and unique opportunity in your marketplace right now for you to do something truly special this year. And do you know what? It’s not just your marketplace. It’s not just your geographical area, or vertical, or niche, or niche, or whatever it is that you call it. This opportunity exists virtually everywhere.

Paul Green:
I’ve been world for six years now. That’s how long I’ve been working with MSPs. And it still surprises me today how few MSPs really grasp this opportunity and just go for it and decide that they’re going to be the one to take advantage of it. Because don’t get me wrong, only one MSP per marketplace can take advantage of this.

Paul Green:
So what am I talking about? I’m talking about something called total market domination. It’s the point at which you are so dominant in your marketplace from a marketing point of view, that any prospect who comes into the marketplace looking to buy, manage services, looking for a new IT support company, they cannot help, but come across you and be recommended to you. Because they are seeing you in videos, they’re hearing you on podcasts, they’re seeing you in webinars, they’re reading your emails. They’re connected to you on social media. They’ve got some of your printed stuff sat on their desk.

Paul Green:
The chances of you turning these people into clients goes up and up and up and up. The more you dominate your market, the more chance there is that they will come across you at some point. Total market domination.

Paul Green:
Now here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter if your MSP is in real terms, actually quite a small business. It could be just you or just you and a bit of help. You could actually have quite a big business. The size of the business is irrelevant to the market domination. It’s not about size. It’s not about resources. It’s about attitude. It’s about action. Those two As together, attitude and action are the things that make a difference for total market domination. Because dominating a market is not really about having 25 vans on the road, or having lots of sales people out there.

Paul Green:
It’s not about really, truly dominating it. It’s having a perception of domination, so that anyone who goes looking for the thing that you are trying to sell cannot help but stumble across you. Now, this is something that I’ve been working on for some time with my own marketing. And I mean, last year alone, I must have done, I don’t know, 20 to 30 different webinars. And that was just for vendors, nevermind doing the podcast every week, and sending out emails every week and stuff on social media every day.

Paul Green:
And we spent thousands and thousands on paid traffic as well. It was all part of our total market domination strategy so that anyone that’s in the market for MSP marketing cannot help, but come across us. It’s a very deliberate and systemised thing. And that’s what you’ve got to do within your MSP.

Paul Green:
Because I said, it’s about attitude and action. Well, the attitude is the thing that drives it and the attitude should be this, “I want to be the MSP that people come across when they are ready to buy.” Because you all have had me say on this podcast before, many times in fact, that people only buy when they’re ready to buy. And the trick is to get in front of them at exactly that moment. But it’s a very hard trick to pull off because we don’t know when they’re going to be ready. And it’s a very, very long time between when they pick their last MSP and when they’re ready to pick their next one, which we hope is going to be you. There’s a lot of inertia loyalty that keeps people with their MSPs.

Paul Green:
So at the point that their brain is open, the reticular activating system, that part of the brain that looks for things that are relevant to that person, at the point at which they’re looking for a new IT services supplier, we’ve got to make sure that you are in front of them.

Paul Green:
This isn’t about being lucky. This isn’t just a chance that you were there in front of them. This is approaching something with a highly systemised consistent way of operating. And that’s where the attitude comes in. If you’ve got that attitude that you want to dominate your marketplace and you’re going to do whatever it takes to dominate that marketplace, that is half of the battle won. Because I can tell you something as someone who is actively working day in day out to dominate a marketplace, it is hard work. It really is hard work. And I’m lucky in that I have good resource. I have great people that I work with. And even we have setbacks and find that progress is never quite as fast as we would want it to be. And this is what I do. This is literally my world.

Paul Green:
So you need that attitude of, “Hey, we’re going to win at this. The rewards are worth it. I want to be that MSP that virtually every single prospect in a marketplace comes across because we have achieved total market domination.”

Paul Green:
So practically, how do you do that? Well, you need to put in place marketing systems. Marketing is a process. It’s not an event. It’s not a one off series of things. I mean, don’t get me wrong. There are some things that need to be done, which are one off jobs like fixing your website, like fixing your LinkedIn. But there’s a whole series of systems that need to be put in place to help you achieve that domination. For example, you need to send out an email every single week. You need to build up your prospect database and send out an email every week. You need to post social media on a daily basis. Ideally you need to send out printed stuff to your best prospects, to your top prospects, your dream 100 as we call them.

Paul Green:
You need to be paying for traffic, if that’s a big thing for you, if the opportunity is right in your marketplace. You need to be reaching out to people who have audiences that you could appeal to. If someone else has got a webinar or a podcast, or just anywhere where people who could be your prospects and are in your marketplace, if they hang out, you’ve got to systematically find a way to connect with those people and build a relationship with them so that they will feature you in their podcast or their webinar or whatever it is. All of this is a system and it needs to be done consistently.

Paul Green:
And this is that other part, it’s the action. You need the attitude to drive you forward and keep you going year, after year, after year. But ultimately the success comes down to action. And the most successful MSPs I know, and that’s not just from a marketing point of view, it’s from a general business point of view, they’re the ones that take consistent systematic action.

Paul Green:
So a suggestion for you. I’m not going to go over all the practical steps now because we’ve dealt with a lot of them here on the podcast. You can go back through previous episodes or you can just have a look on my website, paulgreensmspmarketing.com, have a look at the blog for a series of in-depth guides that we’re starting to pull together, and we’re going to do more on those this year. Or you can go onto the resources. All of this is just in the navigation.

Paul Green:
There’s on-demand webinar that you can have a look at there, there’s some webinar recordings, there’s some guides. There’s a ton of advice there. And you can also join my Facebook group, just go into Facebook and look for the MSP Marketing Group. And that’s where you can actually engage with me one on one in that group.

Paul Green:
So there’s plenty of advice and practical support out there for you, but it does start with you making that decision, “Hey, in 2022, I want total market domination. By the end of this year, or by the time we start next year, I want virtually every single prospect who’s looking for an MSP, to come across us and to feel as though they want to engage with us.”

Paul Green:
This isn’t easy. It’s a whole big marketing system that you’ve got to put together and there is a lot of work involved in it. Well, you don’t have to do it all yourself. You can delegate out much of it, but here’s the thing, it really is worth it. This is how you fix the marketing in your MSP. You get it done once and you achieve total market domination. Oh, and by the way, one big happy side effect of this, is once you have that market domination, it’s very, very hard for another MSP to achieve that. Once you are the number one in people’s minds, in a marketplace, anyone else that tries to do the same thing can only be number two. That keeps you in the number one spot as long as you keep your consistent marketing system going.

Voiceover:
Here’s this week’s clever idea.

Paul Green:
If you’ve been looking for some new technicians for a while, you’re probably glad it is January, because January is the number one month for people switching jobs. And it kind of makes sense if you think about the psychology of employees and when they’re ready to move on. They’ve had a bit of a break over Christmas. They’ve had a few days off and perhaps even a couple of weeks off and their emotional feelings when they think about going back to work is what determines whether or not they’re going to go job hunting.

Paul Green:
It’s like the Sunday night thing. If you’ve ever worked for someone else and you’ve experienced that Sunday night, “Oh, I don’t want to go to work tomorrow.” That can be a very powerful thing to drive someone to go and find a new job, because it just shows them if they’re unhappy on a Sunday night, then it’s time for them to move on and do something else.

Paul Green:
Well Christmas and having a break is an enhanced version of that. And the one thing that we all do or most of us do at Christmas time, is we have a bit of a break. And that’s what makes January a great big fest for people moving jobs. It’s exactly the same with home hunting by the way. Here in the UK, there’s a website called Rightmove, which is the sort of the number one place to go and look for houses for sales. Their busiest day of the year for traffic is Boxing Day, the day after Christmas day. And that’s typically because people are… they’ve got a bit of time off, everyone’s off, and they’re ready to go and do some change, do something different. It’s no different with jobs. Jobs and houses, very, very similar things in January.

Paul Green:
So if you are recruiting right now, you’re probably glad that it’s January, but how do you then find the very, very best people, because I did don’t know about you, but certainly in the back end of last year, recruitment was a little bit difficult. There weren’t a huge number of people around, people were shopping for kind of wage rises more than anything. So they would go through the interview process to get an offer on a better paid job and then go back to their existing boss and say, “Hey, I’m sitting on this job offer, any chance of a pay rise please?” Which isn’t great.

Paul Green:
And that was one set of people. The other set of people that were applying for jobs last year just were not the right kind of people. And there was kind of a lack of a lot of the right kind of people last year, which is why it’s good that it’s now January.

Paul Green:
So how do you test these people? How do you know that you are asking them the right questions? Well, I’ve got a series questions here, which I use in my own job interviews. Now I’m not a recruitment expert, so they’re not going to be perfect, but there’s certainly some questions that I would want to hear the answers to. And they’re all open questions. Now, you know the difference between open and closed questions.

Paul Green:
A closed question kind of traps someone into a corner. The answer is either yes or no. There’s a very limited range of options that they can answer with. Whereas open questions are designed to get them to talk. So things like, “Tell me about our business. What do you know about us and what we do?” Is a great question to ask. “Tell me out your current job,” is another question that you might ask, and that’s an obvious one, but here’s a, non-obvious one that is a follow-up from that, “What could your current company do to be more successful?” Or you could even say, “What does your current company do well and what does it not do well?” Because that’s about trying to test their ability to think strategically about the business that they’re currently in. And of course it’s not bad for you to get a bit of an insight as well into someone that could possibly be a competitor of yours.

Paul Green:
Then you’ve got your kind of your classic recruitment questions about, “Tell me a time.” “Tell me a time when you had a disagreement with your boss.” “Tell me a time when you had a disagreement with your colleague.” And of course the follow-up question to that, “How did you handle that situation?” You must ask of course, why they’re leaving their current job and assume that what they’re telling you is a lie, but you could probe with that.

Paul Green:
I mean, in fact, one of my favourite tricks when I’m asking a job in an interview is to ask a question, to get the reply and then say nothing. Just kind of look at them with a poker face, not in any kind of scary, starery kind of way, but just don’t come back in with another question. And what that creates, is that creates a little void between me and that person. And they will fill that void with more talking.

Paul Green:
I learned this when I was a journalist, this is some of my basic journalism training, which is you ask a question, you let the person reply, and then you kind of don’t reply to their reply. You don’t reply to what they’ve said, and creates that little void. And then they will go on and say more stuff. And often they’ll give better answers in their follow-up talking than they did in the first thing. So that can be a very, very powerful thing to do.

Paul Green:
Now, there are some specific technical questions that you can ask. One, which I read a number of years ago, I think. I can’t remember exact where I read this, but it was to ask them something along the lines of, “Which ticket is more important, is it someone ringing up saying that the internet is slow for everyone in the business, or is it the boss of the business calling up to say that he’s got a problem with the printer, which of those is more important?” Because that’s a great way of just testing their thinking. I don’t think there’s a correct way of answering that, in fact you’ve probably got more of an opinion about that than I have. But you are looking for their understanding of the problem, that the fact that, “Oh, there’s some big factors at play here.”

Paul Green:
We’ve got everyone in the business being affected by problem A, or we’ve got the decision maker who ultimately signs off the bills, having a problem with something that is of a minor impact compared to problem A. And you want to hear almost their working out on that. You want to probe them and say, “How did you come to that answer? Tell me your thinking. What are the issues that surround this?” And then obviously what would they do in that situation, how would they resolve that?

Paul Green:
I’ll tell you one more that’s worth asking as well, is you set them up with a scenario, perhaps a real life scenario, something that’s actually happened within your business. And then you ask them, what would they do? Perhaps, it’s something that’s slightly outside of their skillset, “What would you do? What would you do?” And what you’re looking for is them to come up with ideas of how they would fix it until they get to a point where they would go and ask for help. And that’s the point you take the help away. So they might say, “Well, I’d try this and then I’d try that. And then I’d go and talk to my line manager.” And you say, “Well, your line manager is actually away. What would you do?”

Paul Green:
And they would say, “Okay, I’ll ask a colleague.” And you say, “None of your colleagues can help with this. What would you do?” And you’re kind of pushing and pushing and pushing them. And the purpose here is not for them to get it right or get it wrong. There is no right or wrong on this, you’re testing their thinking abilities. What are their skills when they’re coming up against barrier, after barrier, after barrier? Do they think past that or do they get stuck at a barrier and they can’t go any further? That is a great indicator of the quality of the person who is sat before you.

Paul Green:
Now, listen, you’ve been recruiting for a while, what are your favorite questions to ask people in job interviews? I would love to know what those are. Why don’t you drop me an email. My email address is hello@paulgreensmspmarketing.com. And I’ll take the best of those job interview questions and put them in our MSP marketing Facebook group, so that MSPs all over the world can benefit from your clever ideas.

Voiceover:
Paul’s blatant plug.

Paul Green:
More than three and a half thousand MSPs around the world now have a copy of my book. It’s a physical paperback book and it is completely free for you. If you want to get a copy, you can just get one from my website. We don’t ask for a credit card for shipping or anything stupid like that. I pay to print the book. Well, we’ve actually printed thousands of them. They’re sat in warehouses in the UK and in the US, but I also pay for the shipping. Why do I do that? Because I want to start a relationship with you, and I mean a business relationship. Yeah.

Paul Green:
So if I would just have a flick through the book here. Let’s have a look at chapter nine, A Consistent Experience, Whether You are There or Not. In fact, let me read from it, “This is why you need great staff to deliver a consistent experience to your clients. The keyword here is consistency. It’s no good being brilliant today and terrible tomorrow. It’s actually more powerful to be consistently average in the way you do something than have dramatic fluctuations from day-to-day. Lack of consistency kills clients.”

Paul Green:
To get your free copy, just go to paulgreensmspmarketing.com. It’s up there in the navigation. It’s on the homepage as well. If you’re in the UK or the US, we will ship a copy to you for free, an actual paperback copy, everywhere else in the world, we’ll send you a PDF instantly by email. paulgreensmspmarketing.com.

Voiceover:
The big interview.

Kevin Lancaster:
Kevin Lancaster, CEO of Channel Program.

Matt Solomon:
And I’m Matt Solomon, co-founder of Channel Program.

Paul Green:
And we’ve got the two of you together again. This is amazing. I know you two probably spend all sorts of time talking about things and doing things, but to get both of you back onto the podcast is just awesome. So thank you so much for joining me. And I want to talk about your new program, which is literally called, Channel Program. I know you did this big launch at the end of last year and it’s just generated so much buzz and people are talking about it and people are asking questions as well. So I thought this would be a good chance for you to explain exactly what it is and all these different, clever initiatives and ideas that you’ve come up with.

Paul Green:
Before we do, and we’re going to start with you first, Kevin, we just need to know who you are. So let’s assume that someone listening to this, Kevin, has no idea who you are, what you’ve done with your life, what you’ve done with, I don’t mean with your life, what you’ve done in the channel, what your achievements are. Tell us about you. What’s your career history and what makes you someone that we should really listen to?

Kevin Lancaster:
Oh, I’d almost lay down on the couch and that’s about to get real deep into who am I and what have I done.

Paul Green:
How do you feel about that?

Kevin Lancaster:
So my background is, I spent the last almost 25 years as a serial entrepreneur. Started consulting firms here in the Mid-Atlantic area, Washington D.C. Yes, worked with 3,000, 4,000 companies as they tried to enter the public sector. So a lot of channel or organisations, a lot of bleeding edge, leading edge technologies, whether it be a Palantir or solutions that were ultimately acquired by Oracle Semantic, BMC. And spent the first, probably half to two thirds of my career in that advisory capacity, helping these companies.

Kevin Lancaster:
And then the last couple of years I’ve launched a high growth channel focus platform called ID Agent. One of our flagship products was called Dark Web ID, and learned a lot. That company was acquired after a couple years by a large industry player named Kaseya, and spent two years there running, go to market and working on acquisitions, corp development. And then had the idea along with Mr. Solomon here to take what we’ve learned over the last 20, 25 years and help smooth out the edges, eliminate a lot of the friction in the channel marketplace. And so that’s how Channel Program was born.

Paul Green:
Okay. We’ll come on to Channel Program in a second then. So Matt, how do you fit into all of this? What’s your background?

Matt Solomon:
Yeah, so believe it or not, this is the third company now that I’ve worked with Kevin. I was at his consulting company for about a year when he came to me with the idea about ID Agent. And didn’t know anything about dark web or anything at the moment or at that time. And just took a leap of faith. It sounded really interesting. And really was the first employee at ID Agent, obviously helped it grow over that two year period to about 55 employees.

Matt Solomon:
And I was really ultimately the product evangelist. I was the guy on the road pre-COVID, 50 events per year in person around the world. So I had an opportunity to speak really to the entire community that was out at events, MSPs vendors, and really get to know the space. And then in the acquisition, took on a larger role as vice president of business development at Kaseya. So not just pushing ID Agent, but talking about all the other product offerings they had. And right as I left, stayed about six months after Kevin. I ended up launching Channel Halo, a consulting company, working with vendors. And that kind of parlayed into this because of the conversations we were having that were really the same conversations over and over again with emerging vendors and MSPs.

Paul Green:
Would it be fair to say Matt, that you do all the work and Kevin takes the glory?

Matt Solomon:
I would say that’s very fair, Paul. No, this is honestly what makes Kevin and I such a good team. I mean, he’s such a good CEO and operations guy, and he allows me to do what I do best, which is preach the gospel and get out there and network and talk to everybody. And he does actually give me the limelight quite a bit. So it actually works out really well.

Paul Green:
Yeah. And Kevin was suspiciously quite when I asked that question, so-

Kevin Lancaster:
Oh, there’s so much I could have said right there, but-

Paul Green:
I bet. Let’s not do that. So Channel Program, so you’ve obviously, you guys have been around a long time and you’ve been on both sides of the channel, you’ve been everywhere. And certainly when I got into, I don’t know if you know this Matt, but when I got into this world, which was only back in 2016, you were very, very kind to me early on. And I can’t remember if… I think it was still just ID Agent then before Kaseya acquired it. And I can’t remember the exact circumstances, but you know what it’s like when you’re trying to break into something new. And you were so very kind to me with your time and with some guidance and you probably don’t even remember, it was maybe a LinkedIn conversation we had.

Matt Solomon:
I remember.

Paul Green:
And you invited onto… Oh, you do. Okay.

Matt Solomon:
Yeah.

Paul Green:
That’s cool. And you invited me onto a webinar and then eventually we got you onto this. So you’ve been a wonderful contact and someone to know over the years. And we’ve never physically met, I’m sure we’ll get a chance to, if not this year, then, maybe next year. But tell us about Channel Program. First of all, what are the problems that you’ve seen that you are setting out to solve with this?

Kevin Lancaster:
When we launched ID Agent, Dark Web ID, that product was essentially a magic trick. We’d go to an event, a trade show, or we speak to somebody, webinar or what have you. And we tell them, “Your email’s being compromised and you need to do something about it.” They didn’t really grasp it until we showed them their password. Right?

Kevin Lancaster:
So we would say, “Look, we found the email address. We found your password. And maybe we’ll find your email address, 10 different ways and 10 different passwords, or every time that password was the same password.” When we do that, it really helped the MSP, helped our channel partner kind of break down this whole crazy concept of cybersecurity. Cybersecurity’s complex, it’s massive, it’s like, where do you begin? But we were able to boil it down into the most common denominator.

Kevin Lancaster:
“Here is your email address. Here’s your password. And here is how easy it is for someone to exploit you as individual or as a business, what have you.” And then that’s really why, and one of the reasons why we excelled in the marketplace and were acquired, because we took the conversation, something that was so complex and nebulous, and made it very simple.

Kevin Lancaster:
As we looked at all the experience we’ve gained over the number of years, right? So running a high growth technology platform, running an IT services company, running consulting firm, trying to figure out, what’s the next big problem we could solve. And we kind of started looking at this industry, looking at the friction between channel vendors and channel partners. So starting with the channel vendors, if I’m an emerging technology company, trying to go into the channel, I may not have that magic trick and it might not be funded to the nines to create the velocity that I need to create to scale in the marketplace.

Kevin Lancaster:
And so that presents a significant challenge to some really interesting technologies that may never even see the light of day in channel. On the other side of the table, if I’m an MSP or an IT consulting firm, and I’m getting bombarded by all of these leading edge, new, innovative technologies, I just don’t really know how to make sense of it. So maybe I’m going to trade shows, maybe it’s online stuff, but how do I take that noise and that chaos and simplify that.

Kevin Lancaster:
We started that kind of concept with those two challenges in mind. How do you take innovative, emerging, new technologies, bring them into the marketplace in a very organised fashion? And at the same time, how do you make the experience from other side of the table consistent and break through the noise?

Kevin Lancaster:
And it’s one of the reasons why we just went with a very simple name. We could have come up with something creative, whiz-bang, dot com this, meta this, but it was at the end of the day, it’s like, look we want to perfect the channel program. We want to perfect the interaction between emerging vendors and channel. And in some cases that might mean that the emerging vendors shouldn’t be in channel, or maybe sometimes it validates that they should be in channel.

Kevin Lancaster:
And so this is some… Starting with the big challenges we want to solve, that’s really where it came from, is that there’s so much friction. And this is a, as others will tell you like, the Jay McBain of the world, it’s a multi-trillion dollar marketplace that has nothing but friction in it up and down the stack.

Paul Green:
So how do you go about even starting to tackle something like this?

Matt Solomon:
Kevin, I’ll take a crack at that. And so one of the things we came up with is called channel pitch. Again, you look at events, it’s the same speakers that are getting the 45 minute time slots, and how does an emerging or new vendor even compete with that when they just have a booth? And so we came up with a concept called channel pitch where we’re evening the playing field. And it’s not to say that we won’t take on a larger vendor to participate, but they’re not going to get any additional minutes over the other person. So it’s actually every vendor, and they’re going to have eight vendor on each pitch, each month, they get seven minutes. And it’s a directive from us, cut out all of the fluff of your presentation.

Matt Solomon:
And I’m a big proponent Paul, of education and presentations, but you can go to every other event in the space and get that education. This is about getting down to really five basic areas, and they can expound on it however they want, but really it’s, what problem are you solving? What makes you different? What’s your pricing structure? How can a partner make money with you or how does it make them more efficient? And what’s your partner program look like? What’s your sales enablement? That type of stuff. So it’s really getting down to these basic things that an MSP needs to know from a vendor. And so that’s really where that premise came up.

Matt Solomon:
And then on the flip side, we’re allowing MSPs to attend anonymously unless they choose to give up their information. So it’s really a safe environment for MSP owners, sales and marketing technicians to come in and listen to new vendors, and vendors maybe they just haven’t had time to hear from in a really succinct manner and only give up that information when they’ve chosen. Right? Because I mean, that’s one of the big issues for MSPs when they attend certain events, they’re literally giving up their information to 50 different vendors and then they get bombarded and they have this negative feeling. This changes that environment. And it actually allows them to provide quantitative and qualitative information back to the vendors because after each pitch, we’re going to ask questions to the audience in a poll fashion, and they’re going to be able to exert some of their own influence into what’s coming into this channel next.

Paul Green:
That’s such a clever idea. So this is done completely virtually then. So it’s like a webinar, but not a webinar. Would that be a fair way of putting it?

Matt Solomon:
Yeah, I think so. I think it’s a fair way of putting it for now. And it’s going to evolve and could I absolutely see a live version of this in person at some point? Absolutely. For now, it is a virtual event.

Paul Green:
Yeah. Okay. And don’t be apologetic about that, Matt. The world we’re in now, I think it’s so much easier for someone to go to a virtual event or watch a recording of it. And it’s such a good idea. I’ve never come across a concept like this before, so I think that’s such a good idea. Right? So that channel pitch then is the first idea. What’s the second idea? How does that work?

Kevin Lancaster:
When we went out and started saying, “Hey, we’re creating this thing called Channel Program.” We used some very big audacious global terms like democratisation of the channel and talked about fragmentation and just how noisy it was. And so the next step in this process right, is one let’s smooth out… Well, first step was, let’s smooth out the connectivity between vendors and Channel and let’s give Channel the voice to be able to influence and select who they want to date and kind of puts a lot of pressure on the vendor because they have to really bring their A game.

Kevin Lancaster:
The next step is that MSPs are vocal. They’re very vocal. They are vocal in many different outlets. They’re vocal on Facebook, they’re vocal on Reddit, they’re vocal on LinkedIn, I mean, all over the place. And what that’s created is again, it’s additional fragmentation. So the heartbeat or the conversation of the IT channel occurs outside of a platform that’s built for this industry, that conversation’s happening all over the place.

Kevin Lancaster:
And so the next step was how do we take a LinkedIn or YouTube experience and make it specific to, again, this multi-trillion dollar industry, this channel technology sales industry. And so channel explorer is about giving voice and giving real estate to individuals in the channel. So if I’m at an MSP and I have insight to share about marketing best practices, tips about how to solve the latest Microsoft challenge or patch, or what have you, then I have a spot on this platform to add my content, and that content will be primarily video content.

Kevin Lancaster:
So this is about giving the influencers or trading kind of this influencer space for MSPs, individuals at the MSPs. And if they want to add in business profiles and stuff like that, that’ll be the opportunity, but we really, what we want to focus on is giving the individual voice. Because oftentimes, again, we go back to the trade show, a lot of these trade shows, you’ll see the sales and marketing folks at the trade shows, but you don’t often see the technical folks, behind the scene folks that want to be involved and want exert their influence.

Kevin Lancaster:
So we’ll give the MSP community, the ability to create their profile, create influence, create these videos. And at the same time, we’ll allow individuals at the vendors to share their thought leadership. So ultimately we want to bring these two worlds together in a very YouTube-meets-LinkedIn curated way, but it’s really the primary catalyst behind is video, it’s just how the world interacts right now. And so if we can do our part to centralise even a 10th of the conversation, even the hundredth of the conversation, then we’ve done a good job.

Kevin Lancaster:
I mean, we often have to remember that channel is MSP, it’s MSSP, but the broader definition of channel includes the hundreds of thousands of channel partners at the big platforms like Cisco and Oracle or Microsoft. And so if we can start to centralise some of this conversation and again, make the knowledge share, transfer in the industry seamless in a platform, then that’s checking another box on our quest for making this a much more streamlined and efficient industry.

Paul Green:
Sure. So I love the idea of this. Can I play devil’s advocate and ask the question? I know many people listening will be thinking, which is, “Hey, well done. You’ve got another platform for content and yours is video-based, which is new, that’s brand new to the channel, but how is this different to Reddit? Although Reddit’s the World West, but how is this different to Reddit? How is this different to Tech Tribe? How is this different to all of those Facebook groups out there? What makes this truly different and how are you going to get the audience on it?”

Kevin Lancaster:
Yeah. I think video element certainly helps, it’s beneficial, but I think to your point, right, it’s, we’re talking about fragmentation. We’re talking about the message being all over the place, right? So if I have to go to five, six, seven different boards. We don’t want to be another board, right? We want make it easy. So we’ll build in the ability to post on those other boards, we’ll build in the ability for MSPs to join the vendors advisory council. We’ll allow the vendors to create communities within this platform, that way they can interact with their channel partners and perspective channel partners.

Kevin Lancaster:
And so again, you go back to the fragmentation, right? It’s the messaging or the message in the conversations happening all over the place. And then one of the other, I think challenges that it helps solve is that there’s this rise of what’s called PRMs, partner relationship management platforms. And those are ungodly expensive platforms for these vendors. And so if we can create this community aspects and make it more efficient for vendors to interact with their channel and make it easier for channel partners, MSPs to all collaborate and share best practices, then I think that, again, if we even steer a 10th or 100th of the conversation in one consolidated platform, we’ve had a massive impact. We’ve had a multi-billion dollar impact in facilitating how the channel interacts.

Kevin Lancaster:
And so are we going to be replacing where every conversation occurs? Probably not, but again, the goal is to centralise it, the goal is not to be a Reddit form where you just want to vent anonymously on these forums. This is about sharing subject matter expertise and thought leadership versus just bashing the next vendor or the next MSP.

Paul Green:
Yeah. That makes perfect sense. Okay. Let’s move on to the final one that we’re going to mention on this interview. I know you’ve got lots of other things that you’ll be launching throughout this year, but the one I want to talk about today, because this was the one that really caught my attention because you solved a problem people didn’t know they had until they read the solution. If that sentence makes sense. So this one’s so exciting, we’ve even produced a sound effect for it. Matt and Kevin, tell us about Channel Cash.

Kevin Lancaster:
Go ahead Matt.

Matt Solomon:
Yeah. So, no, we’re very excited about this and we’ve gotten tons of really great feedback about it. It stems from an issue that we did actually have conversations with MSPs about MDF, marketing development funds are there for the taking for MSPs, but some reason MSPs are not taking advantage of it. And one of the reasons Paul, is that it can be a complex application. There can be obviously very specific demands around selling the individual product and you have to provide ROI reports. And of course this varies vendor to vendor, which also makes it hard because each vendor has a different process.

Matt Solomon:
And so we were thinking, how can we really simplify this? And Channel Cash was really the answer. It’s the first vendor agnostic or vendor independent MDF program where Channel Program is funding it. And we’re allowing MSPs to come in, do a very simple… I mean we’re talking less than five minute application. And our only ask is that they attend one of our Channel Pitch events, participate in our community, essentially, come to an event, give your feedback to the vendors. And you’re going to go into a drawing that we’re going to do every quarter and we’re going to be doing a grand prize of 5,000. You’re going to have 10, $1,000 winners and so forth and so on each quarter.

Matt Solomon:
And again, that comes without the ROI reports at the back end. We want you to have a successful event, but we don’t need you to report back to us on that. And you don’t have to sell a specific product. So you don’t have to be at this event saying X vendor or Y vendor, it’s really can be focused on selling your entire offering as an MSP.

Paul Green:
Sure.

Matt Solomon:
So that’s where we came up with that concept.

Paul Green:
So without naming names, you must have had conversations with some of the big vendors about this, because I’m guessing you need their cash in order to distribute their cash in Channel Cash. So what’s the kind of the feedback from the vendors? Do they agree that the MDF programs are broken as well?

Kevin Lancaster:
It’s interesting. We haven’t approached any vendor about Channel Cash. I think the origin or genesis of it, is that as an IT service provider, I remember a number of years ago, we were trying to bolster our position with this particular vendor, and we were running radio ads in the D.C. market and really talking about our capabilities and how to solve technical problems for the federal government at that point. And the process was laborious is an understatement. It took us two or three months to get through the application process to be approved. We had to front-load the expense for the spots on the radio. And then I think it took us another three or four months to get reimbursed.

Kevin Lancaster:
And so it was a brutal experience but that was really important to us because it allowed us to broaden our reach and be seen as a leader with this particular vendor that we are working with. And so it’s just painful, right? And so we haven’t approach a vendor. This is something that we’re funding as part of our model or our strategy. We just want to see channel grow. We want to see MSPs, MSSPs consultants. We don’t want to see them be encumbered by, in a laborious process.

Kevin Lancaster:
All we ask is that they attend the pitch, they provide feedback. And that would’ve been invaluable for me as an organisation, starting up, if I had something that was called that simplistic and it provided me some element of even modest funding to start generating opportunities. The plan is not to go out and ask vendors to participate at this point in this program, we just want to see the industry just rise up and get out there and start developing business.

Paul Green:
Based on what you just said, I’m going to make a suggestion. You don’t have to take my suggestion seriously, but Channel Cash, it’s a good name and I know you’ve trademarked it, but you know what I think it should be called? Win my wallet.

Kevin Lancaster:
We’ll have to see if that one’s available, but yeah, most definitely I like it.

Paul Green:
Okay. Yeah. Come back to me on that one. Okay, Matt, Kevin, thank you so much. You’ve both been incredibly generous with your time. I get the feeling this is day one of a bigger plan. I know you’ve got some massive plans for this year, some more launches. And of course these kind of things evolve, don’t they? They evolve over time as you find out what works and what doesn’t work. But you’ve got some genuinely new ideas there. And I think you’ve both been so brave putting your own money and more importantly, your own time, and your own attention onto some genuinely new ideas.

Paul Green:
Some of them are going to work, inevitably some of them won’t work and I think it’s really exciting. So thank you so much for coming on. Please do come back onto the podcast later this year and perhaps even at the beginning of next year. How can we be talking about 2023 already. But come back on and give us an update on what’s happening with it. Just finally, to finish off, tell us how can an MSP get involved in Channel Program?

Matt Solomon:
Yeah, I mean, it’s pretty easy. I mean, one, you can just go to channelprogram.com, but if you want to sign up for the first pitch event, channelprogram.com/pitch. And that really is step one of the Channel Cash program, right? Register, attend, and you will start being part of that process for Channel Cash. And Paul, we’re going to have to see some video content from you in Explorer.

Paul Green:
Yeah, you bet. In fact, I’ve just written a note here, which is, “Do video content for Channel Explorer.”

Matt Solomon:
There we go.

Paul Green:
Here’s a commitment.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast. This week’s recommended book.

Adam Walter:
Hi, my name is Adam Walter and my book recommendation is, The Subtle Art of Not Giving an F. Because it’s a great way to learn how to self-regulate and find things that actually matter to your business and yourself and focus on those, so you’re not distracted.

Voiceover:
Coming up next week.

Mark Copeman:
Hi, I’m Mark Copeman. I’m going to be here with Paul next week, telling you all about why MSP websites are so often pretty average, if not rubbish, and I’m going to help you to get better at your online presence.

Paul Green:
We’re also going to be talking about how you dress next week. And I don’t mean day-to-day in the office, I mean, when you are meeting prospects. There’s a key thing in great sales, which is about matching the way that your prospects dress. I’ll explain exactly what that means and how you can do it comfortably in next week’s show.

Paul Green:
We’re also going to talk about your USP. I bet you’ve heard that before. Your unique selling proposition. The problem with most MSPs is that all MSPs do the same thing. Yeah, I know you’ve got your different from tech stacks and different ways of doing things, but from the uneducated client’s point of view, those who don’t know about technology, you just seem to do the same things as all the other MSPs. So what’s unique about that? How can you pull together a USP, a unique selling proposition when you don’t actually do anything unique? There is a very, very beautiful answer. It’s beautiful in its simplicity and its power as well. And I’ll tell you what that answer is in next week’s show. Join me next Tuesday and have a very profitable week in your MSP.

Voiceover:
Made in the UK for MSPs around the world. Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.

 

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