Stax automates the process of identifying gaps in MSP customer solution stacks, recommends offerings which can fill these voids, and provides the MSP with assistance and collateral to sell them.
Cloud distributor Pax8 has relaunched their website, pax8.com, featuring their new Pax8 Stax Business Intelligence tool, designed to give MSPs greater visibility into their customers’ technology stacks and facilitate upsell and cross-sell opportunities that will provide more complete cloud solutions.
“We are excited and proud to launch Stax as well as our new website,” said Nick Heddy, SVP of Sales and Marketing at Pax8. “It has been a ton of work and builds off the success of our ConnectWise and soon-to-come Autotask integrations.”
Stax extends the value proposition of these integrations by adding a new component.
“Those integrations don’t have a ‘wow’ factor building on identifying gaps around their current customer base,” Heddy said. “When you have spent the money to acquire a customer, upselling and cross selling is more efficient.”
Stax is a Business Intelligence tool designed to provide MSPs with a comprehensive view into each customer’s existing technology stack, with appropriate recommendations to fill out the stack and create a more complete cloud solution.
“This has been the dream that has been chased down by people who sell multiple vendors,” Heddy said. “There are many automated order taking systems, which provide the ability to order, bill and provision single customers, but I’m pretty sure that what we are doing here has not been done before.”
Heddy said that organizations have been using manual processes to provide this functionality.
“We talked with a ‘fixer’ from one of the major IT franchises in the US, who coaches new people setting up IT franchises,” Heddy said. “He said that he would help them build an Excel spread sheet to show them where the gaps are in customer deployments. To us, this seemed cumbersome, and we decided we could automate this.”
Being able to upsell and cross-sell to customers more easily would not be the only advantage of such automation.
“This is one of the first tools that give MSPs full visibility into their customer base, and gives them the resources that they need to manage them more effectively,” said Don Jeter, Pax8 ‘s VP of Marketing. “This is as much about improving efficiency as about helping them sell more.”
The improved visibility the tool provides will also assist Pax8’s internal salespeople who work with the MSPs.
“My 70 sales people were getting too comfortable themselves focusing on a selling a single product line, because they said they didn’t have the visibility,” Heddy said. “This helps us become more aware of how to get a deeper relationship with a customer, so that we can make partners more aware as well.”
The development process wasn’t an easy one.
“This has been nine months in the making with a dedicated development team working around the clock,” Heddy said. “It was hard work.”
So what exactly does Stax do?
“First, it helps to identify opportunities within the existing customer base, what products they are consuming and what the natural next step would be to put a fuller stack in place,” Heddy said. “It then puts tools the MSP can use to illustrate this to the customer, like case studies, and how-to-sell guides, at their fingertips. It then does single provisioning with a single click. It’s a single API call for every vendor we work with, and saves going to 3-5 vendors to set them up.
“What is beautiful about this, is that every partner and customer is a unique snowflake,” Heddy added. “We can do automated mass customization, because Stax is a template that allows MSP to build their own custom stack. Typically most MSPs start out with Office 365. There are 20 different versions but Business Premium is most typical. Then an Azure component, and a continuity play, and a disaster recovery play like Datto or Infrascale, and then a security play like Symantec or Webroot.”
Pax8 has a much smaller line card than the broadline distributors, with typically two to three options in every category. Heddy said that will still provide MSPs with the choices they need, because the vendor solutions Pax8 carries are customized for MSPs.
“It is not on our road map to become a catalogue of hundreds of vendors,” he said. “We have a very specific set of requirements that we are looking for. We’ve turned away some of the biggest vendors because they either also have a direct business, or don’t have the degree of API functionality that we want. MSPs don’t want to support 50 products. Like us, they need to master a certain number of products, for maximum efficiency and enablement. We will continue to have two to three options in every category, and develop those relationships.”
“Curation, channel vetting and API vetting for the channel is a key part of our value proposition,” Jeter said.
While Pax8 will not be significantly expanding the number of vendors covered by Stax going forward, they indicated that there are plans to expand it in other ways.
“When we rolled it out to 15 to 20 people in beta, they asked for things like giving the customer a score for security, continuity, and productivity if disaster happened, so they can go to the customer and use that to recommend the next product,” Heddy said. “They would also like a customer-facing Stax tool for larger customers, who don’t want to email the MSP when they add a new employee, but to do this themselves. Those are the kind of things that MSPs are looking to for us to add in the near future.”
Stax is a part of a general reboot of Pax8’s website, which is geared to simplify things for MSPs.
“Stax is part of this trend to increased simplicity, which is where our brand is going,” Jeter said. “The website provides a great user experience. Partners can buy technology anywhere. Buying Office 365 is like buying a can of Coke. But the partner experience is our differentiator, and the new website reflects that.”
Jeter said that the simplicity applies not just to the partner side, but also the vendor side as well.
“Vendors approach us because we can simplify their product and take it to the MSP market,” he said.