“This is the best time in history to be an MSP” – Herjavec

Robert Herjavec in conversation at N-able Empower 2021

Technology is changing at a faster rate than ever. Customers have been stressed and shaken by the global pandemic. Business models everywhere have tied themselves into pretzels to try to accommodate the changes needed. And security challenges are both more prevalent than ever and spread across a more diverse array of devices, applications and services than ever.

It makes being an MSP a challenging thing, right?

Not so fast, according to Robert Herjavec, CEO of venerable MSSP The Herjavec Group.

“This is the best time in history to be an MSP. I also think it’s a golden time for opportunity,” Herjavec told N-able president John Pagliuca and CTO Mike Adler during a virtual “fireside chat” at N-able’s Empower virtual event Tuesday.

So what’s got the colourful executive and Dragon/Shark so bullish on managed services? Some of the same things that make being an MSP so challenging.

“We see extreme digitization and extreme complexity, and customers are looking for help with both,” Herjavec said. “Every company wants to be a digital company, and the flip side of that is that it’s really complicated. Customers are looking for solutions to their problems, and now is the golden time to be a trusted partner to our customers. The need to help people isn’t going away.”

Herjavec appears to buy heavily into the oft-repeated mantra of a second “Roaring 20s” as the world comes out of its patchwork of pandemic lockdowns, saying that he believes “we’re going to see economic growth like we’ve never seen in our lifetime,” and that MSPs are in the driver’s seat of helping companies large and small become the digital companies they want to be.

“I think the digital economy is here to stay, and the business we’re in is the perfect business to be in,” he said.

But he cautioned MSPs against selling “siloed technology” and selling based on technology itself. More than ever, he said, customers don’t care about technology. They care about their own specific pain points and drivers for growth. MSPs that can’t translate from tech-speak into the language of business risk “being left behind by MSPs who really sell solutions.”

He also urged MSPs to move quickly. Many didn’t react quickly enough to the arrival of the pandemic, he said. As a result of both that experience and the built-in small business bias towards cautiousness, many will not react quickly enough to the recovery.

“You should be growing and investing to scale,” he said. “You’ve to have the right team in place and hire ahead of the curve. I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and there’s never been more opportunity than we have right now. Not tomorrow. Today. You’ve got to go. Everyone listening to this has an opportunity to build a $250 million or $500 million company. Today. Work with your partners and get going.”

Aside from the here-and-now opportunities for growth as the pandemic ends, the wide-ranging discussion with Herjavec also gave MSPs advice on several other fronts. He stressed the importance of listening to customers, getting close to them, and building solutions around what customers are saying. He said he tries to spend a few minutes at the end of every sales call listening to what keeps his customers up at night. He said many MSPs are afraid to ask that kind of question if the customer has a problem they can solve.

“Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know, but you’ll find out an answer for them,” he said.

Similarly, he advised up-and-coming MSPs to attend every industry event they can and to learn from every other MSP from whom they can glean wisdom, noting that going to events and asking questions of vendors, partners, and fellow MSPs was one of the key drivers of The Herjavec Group’s growth in the early days when it was still building.

“Rely on others. If you want to get somewhere, ask somebody who’s already there,” he said. “Go out there and get the information you need. It exists.”

Finally, he addressed the easiest path to growth for many MSPs. Echoing earlier comments by Pagliuca, Herjavec noted that many MSP owners are from a technical background, and many of those owners are “afraid of sales.” But that’s okay, he insisted, because the biggest driver of revenue growth for MSPs is adding new services to existing customers. And if you’re doing a good job of both customer service and listening to customer needs, that’s easy, he said.

“You don’t have to be great at sales to build a growing business,” he said.

Robert Dutt

Robert Dutt is the founder and head blogger at ChannelBuzz.ca. He has been covering the Canadian solution provider channel community for a variety of publications and Web sites since 1997. 

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