SolarWinds MSP introduces new enablement and training tool for partners with MSP Institute

The 2018 version of the Solarwinds MSP Institute, which should be all online by the September-October timeframe, has five series – three persona-oriented ones for manager/owners, salespeople and marketing, and two topic-focused on security and backup.

SolarWinds MSP has released a new enablement tool for its MSP partners with MSP Institute, a playbook for MSPs that provides training and tips through business, sales, marketing, and technical tracks from experts and industry leaders. Different series are aimed at owner/managers, salespeople, and marketing people, and there are two thematic ones on security and backup.

“We’ve been delivering content for the last 15 years, but we reinvigorated it over the last year because there’s a lot of change occurring in the marketplace that poses new challenges for MSPs,” said Mike Cullen, vice president, customer experience and business strategy, at SolarWinds MSP.  “Our focus used to be just around content creation. Now it’s about challenges like security and backup. The idea is to help partners take the next step in providing more advanced services offerings.”

The MSP Institute consists of a series of on-demand webinars, videos, and podcasts, with tracks on go-to-market strategies, advice on how to build and manage a successful sales team, best practices for operational success, and tips on how to manage customer relationships successfully. The idea is to offer problem-solving content that can be of value both to relatively new MSPs, as well as more experienced ones.

“We have always invested heavily in these sorts of programs to spur customer success,” Cullen said. “We want to be able to meet the needs of all, from people just transitioning to the MSP business, to the top MSPs in the world. Both new and experienced MSPs can benefit from the MSP Institute, because it is designed to ramp up new MSP hires quickly. The advanced program has a thought leadership series for elite MSPs wanting to see topics covered that are particularly relevant to them The next versions of the MSP Institute will also have the ability to sort and filter, depending what stakeholder they are.”

Five series will be available in 2018.

The Management Series is aimed at MSP owners and managers, and focuses on foundational business practices. Topics include how to choose your program portfolio, pricing strategies to enhance profitability, building a foundational sales and marketing plan, the benefits and pitfalls of NOCs and help desks, and metrics that can help you improve your business

The Sales Series covers the fundamentals of selling, value propositions, customer-acquisition strategies, moving prospects through the process to becoming full customers, and techniques for handling objections

The Marketing Series teaches high-quality, high-yield inbound marketing techniques such as how to build a brand, lead generation methods, media planning and content marketing, funnel management, and the content/collateral creation process

The other two series – on security and on backup – are focused on topics rather than personas.

Mike Cullen, vice president, customer experience and business strategy, at SolarWinds MSP

“The number one reason people leave an MSP is around security,” Cullen said. “The Security Series instructs MSPs how to meet the needs of the new security industry, especially around ransomware and its costs. This is one of the hottest topics today, and will teach MSPs how to get customers into a layered security program so they can best protect them. Other elements of the security series include tips on how to leverage security as a key business driver, how to create a security offering, and the fundamentals of regulatory compliance.”

The other content-oriented series, on Backup, teaches MSPs how to position backup services – and what they are really selling to customers –  how to define backup services and scope, outlining service level agreements and setting pricing, and how to get more backup business without relying on selling.

The plan is to get all of the content up over the September and October timeframe.

“It’s a very large project, and what you see now is the top of the iceberg, and will evolve quickly as we put new content up,” Cullen said.

In addition to being on demand, the content is also designed to be easy to consume.

“A business owner who watches all the webinars would take 6-7 hours to go through the whole series,” Cullen indicated. “It’s about the same for sales, and slightly less for marketing. The specialized security and backup content would take about 7-8 hours to go through. We also know that most people won’t want to learn this all at once or in large chunks, so the videos are broken down into 2-3 minute clips.”

A perpetual issue with this sort of program is getting the target audience to make use of it, without making it a required channel program element, and Cullen indicated they have put some thought into how to achieve this.

“As we go through this, we will gamify it a little bit, and reward people with swag for completing their courses,” he said. “It’s an area that we are still thinking about right now. We are also setting it up to allow the business owner to see the level of certification that each of their employees have attained. We think that will spur adoption, since the business owners have a vested interest in getting employees to take the courses.”