Exclusive Insight From Kevin O’Leary Getting Your IT Services Business Ready To Sell For BIG Money
Lead Like A SEAL Jocko Willink's Proven Methods For Dynamic, Powerful Leadership
The Turn Of The Decade Why 2020 Will Be A Landmark Year In The Technology Industry
Never Miss A Sales Goal Again The Mistake You Don't Know You're Making
Announcing The IT Sales And Marketing Boot Camp April 8 th -11 th , 2020 • Nashville, Tennessee
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Volume 1 Issue 6 CONTENTS
6 The Turn Of The Decade:
T.C. Doyle Explains Why 2020 Will Take The Tech Industry To New Heights
8 Answering These 3 Questions Will Take Your Marketing To The Next Level Part 2
22 MSP Hot Tech Our Top 5 Tools To Give Your Business A Competitive Edge 23 The Secret To A Sales Team That Doesn’t Stop Jack Daly On The Importance Of Grit 24 What Is Your Final Destination? Everything You Need To Know To Hit Your 2020 Sales Goals With Absolute Certainty 26 Quotable Quotes Take A Page Out Of These Leaders’ Books
10 What Are Your
Non-Negotiables? Insider Tips To Make Sure You’re ONLY Working With Your Ideal Clients 12 MSP Business Spotlight: Find Out How StoredTech Defines Success
A SEAL’s Guide To Business Leadership Jocko Willink Gives Us An Exclusive Look Into His Military-Tested Strategies
17 'Shark Tank’s' Kevin O’Leary
Shares His Expert Insight On Getting BIG Money For Your MSP Business
VOLUME 1 ISSUE 6 • MSPSUCCESSMAGAZINE.COM | 3
LETTER FROM THE EDI TOR
The Value Of Brutal Honesty
In the Frequently Asked Questions section of Adweek magazine’s website, the top question is “Why do I have to register to read Adweek.com content?” The answer is a total crock: “Adweek is committed to providing the best possible experience for our audience. By registering to become an Adweek Community member, you’re helping us understand more about how you use Adweek and the type of content you’re interested in so that we can continue to create best-in-class content and products that serve your needs.” Since they’re a publication dedicated to marketing and advertising, you would think they could at least cobble together a better lie. Personally, I’d prefer brutal honesty: " We make you subscribe so we can build our list to sell advertising to our sponsors. We are, after all, an advertising platform and keep the lights on by selling advertising to our list." As a marketing person, that answer would not offend me in the least. It’s honest . The other pile of crap they’re trying to sell is a complete insult to the reader because we all know it’s a lie. As the saying goes, the cover-up is worse than the crime, and that goes DOUBLE when you’re the one trying to cover up your own b.s. Twice I’ve been invited to watch the filming of the wildly popular TV show “Shark Tank,” and both times, I’ve had the opportunity to see multiple pitches start to finish, then hang out and discuss the pitches with the Sharks in between stage resets and over lunch. Kevin O’Leary, the subject of this month’s cover article, is someone I’ve gotten to know well from having him speak on my stage twice and bringing him in for a day of private consulting about a year ago. I think he’s wrongly accused of being a mean-spirited arsehole. Yes, he plays the “tough” Shark to make the show interesting (just like Robert plays the “nice” Shark, Barbara plays the “crazy” Shark, etc.). But Kevin is simply a smart straight shooter who doesn’t sugarcoat the truth. I agree with him that brutal honesty is the absolute best advice some of the wannabe entrepreneurs on the show can get. Often, the entrepreneurs who make it to the show have already burned through their entire savings, borrowed extensively from friends and family, quit their job, and are close to bankruptcy or rapidly headed in that direction. If they aren’t bluntly told that their business sucks and that they don’t have what it takes to make it work, they could spend a few more miserable years digging themselves deeper into a black pit of debt and dragging their family down with them. Years of loss pile up in time wasted and money not invested properly. Unlike me, Kevin is not in the business of “fixing” entrepreneurs by teaching them how to be better marketers, salespeople, and leaders. He doesn’t have the desire to “coach.” In his world —which is the world of business — either you make money or you don’t. If his brutal honesty stings, then it just might spark the fire to burn off the deadwood b.s. they’re clinging to, motivating them to abandon their failure of a business for something more profitable or at least stop wasting time and money on a bad idea. The marketplace is brutally binary. Either you make money or you don’t. You either have a competitive product or service that sells or you don’t. Either you grew this year and made a respectable profit or you didn’t. The marketplace doesn’t care that you’ve put your life into your business or that it’s always been your dream to run an IT company. The marketplace doesn’t care that it’s difficult to find “good” people or that you’re working really, really hard. The marketplace won’t pay you extra for being a “nice” person or because you’re
Founder and CEO, Technology Marketing Toolkit, Inc.
handicapped, unfairly burdened, or struggling in some way. The marketplace also doesn’t care if you’re black, white, old, young, pretty, ugly, gay, or straight. The marketplace is just, and the measurements of actual success and accomplishment are straightforward. Not many people like this, and some have tried to make business “more fair” to no avail. As we moved into this new year, you might have set goals for 2020 or made personal resolutions. Maybe you’ve created a new mission statement for yourself and your company and hung it around the office. Perhaps you’ve gone so far as to take everyone on a personal retreat to plot and plan. Good for you, I suppose. But sentiment aside, it’s definitely NOT the thought that counts . If you’re not where you want to be, not making the money you want, not seeing your business progress as it should, or simply not at peace with how hard you have to work for the results, per- haps it’s time you took a ruthless look at yourself and your business to determine exactly what is working and what is not. Be brutally honest with yourself and make the hard decisions you’ve been avoiding. The big “secret” in life is that there are no secrets. Whatever your goal is, you can get there — as long as you’re willing to be brutally honest with yourself about the hard work, preparation, and learning you must invest to get it done. n
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ON THE HOR I ZON Turning Points Then And Now: How The Decade Of 2010 Transformed Tech Selling, And Why The Decade Of 2020 Could Top It By T.C. Doyle
Here’s a head-scratcher: A decade ago, the most pressing issue facing chief information officers (CIOs) at big tech buyers compa- nies was the “cloud imperative,” according to InformationWeek, a top business resource for corporate IT executives. By contrast, according to CompTIA, the world’s largest ICT trade association, just 1 in 10 IT channel companies at the time reported any involvement with selling or using cloud solutions. Put bluntly, the nation’s providers of technology products and services were out of step with what customers prioritized most in 2010. No wonder a third of them have since disappeared from the landscape, according to market researchers like Jay McBain, principal analyst of channels, partnerships, and alliances at Forrest- er Research. But what about those that remain? That’s a different and alto- gether better story. Today’s ICT solution providers — think MSPs, VARs, systems inte- grators, consultants, and more — are not following customers into new technology worlds and market adjacencies but leading them. They have learned invaluable lessons over the last decade in key areas, including technology adoption, best practices, and customer experiences. In many instances, today’s ICT technology providers serve as their customers’ entire IT departments, responsible for everything, including employee onboarding, technology adoption, network administration, organizational defense, and, increasingly, business outcomes. “It’s the golden age of the trusted IT advisor,” says Drew Lydecker, co-founder of Avant Communications, one of the channel’s fast- est-growing technology enablement companies. For perspective on why, let’s look back at the decade that was and ahead to the one that will be. For the sake of simplicity, we will zero in on three areas that changed business most: technology, economics, and culture. Let’s start with that thing InformationWeek called the “cloud imperative.” Technology 2010: The Cloud Imperative When Starbucks introduced its Frappuccino-blended beverage drinks in 2010, customers lost their minds. They lost their minds again that same year when CEO Howard Schultz announced Starbucks would soon provide free Wi-Fi internet connectivity in its stores. The idea cemented something most working professionals now take for granted: ubiquitous connectivity.
In addition to ubiquitous connectivity, other tech conventions began to take root a decade ago. Take mobility, for example. By 2010, smartphones were in the hands of 430 million consumers and business professionals alike. By the middle of the decade, they were in the pockets and purses of more than 2 billion people, or roughly 1/3 of the world’s population at the time. Cloud computing began to take off as well, replacing client-server computing. By 2016, revenue generated from public cloud comput- ing was forecast to top $200 billion. At the time, the amount was roughly as much money as the annual revenues of IBM, HP, and Microsoft combined . Cloud helped launch a number of other revolutionary changes. Take software as a service (SaaS). SaaS not only democratized tech- nology by giving small companies access to technologies previously available to large enterprises only, but it also ushered in an era of self-service procurement for line-of-business professionals. Along with virtualization and social media, cloud technology, mobility, and SaaS completely transformed business computing. By the end of the decade, it simply did not matter where your data, applications, and computing power were located, so long as they were readily available, verifiably secured, and legally compliant. Economics 2010: Remotely Better By A Mile By 2010, the “old” way of doing business in the ICT channel, which revolved around the resale of products, was in decline. Product margins? SPIFs? Rebates? They just weren’t propelling growth. Those who clung to old financial realities found themselves strug- gling, according to Robin Robins, founder and CEO of the Technolo- gy Marketing Toolkit and publisher of MSP Success Magazine. Since 2010, most technology providers have transitioned their revenue from product reselling and break/fix support to managed services and business consulting. It’s not been easy for many. To adjust, companies overhauled their sales teams, compensation models, and alliances. This included new finance partners. While accepting money from private equity seemed like an implausible idea 10 years ago, scores have done so since. In addition to embracing new business models, smart tech pro- viders have adopted more professional management tools to run their businesses. The embrace of IT management and monitoring technology, in particular, gave rise to the small, nimble, and trusted technology advisor. Armed with remote management and monitor- ing (RMM) technology and professional services automation (PSA)
software, solution providers could dramatically improve customer support, talent utilization, and decision making. Within a mere few years, the economics of solutions delivery were completely transformed, according to Jim Lippie, general manager of Kaseya’s cloud computing business and the former CEO of Thrive Networks, a Boston-area MSP. Lippie sold Thrive to Staples in 2012. Looking back, he recalls that MSPs had two big business opportunities at the time: backing up customer resources to the cloud and converting on-premise Microsoft Exchange servers to the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), the forerunner to Microsoft Office 365. In the span of 18 months, beginning in 2010, Thrive honed its pitch and pricing around these opportunities. Almost every day thereafter, it signed a new customer, netting it an additional $60,000 per month in recurring revenue. Culture 2010: From The Arab Spring To The Equifax Dumpster Fire Remember Tunis 2011? It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a decade since the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. By the time the dust settled, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Yemen had new governments. Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak had tanks, jet fighters, and thousands upon thousands of troops at his disposal, but he was no match for social media, which mobilized an entire nation against him in a matter of weeks. While the decade started with most believing that digital technol- ogy was the answer to almost any problem, it didn’t end that way. From the rise of fake news to the growth in cybersecurity breaches, the perception of technology transformed dramatically between 2010 and 2020. The decade ended with government regulators, business professionals, and consumers grappling with an entirely new set of challenges relating to privacy, regulation, social respon- sibility, election manipulation, and, perhaps most importantly, data security. In “The Decade Tech Lost Its Way,” published in December 2019, The New York Times summed up the 2010s this way: “When the decade began, tech meant promise — cars that could drive them- selves, social networks that could take down dictators. It connected us in ways we could barely imagine. But somewhere along the way, the flaws of technology became abundantly clear.” 2020 Technology: A Clearer Perspective In the next decade, “emerging” innovations will mature. Their use will redefine automation in ways not previously anticipated. At the forefront of these game changers will be artificial intelli- gence (AI), big data, 5G networking, and the "internet of things" (IoT). In addition, watch for edge computing, nanotechnology, autonomous vehicles, and blockchain to revolutionize how business is done. Used in any number of combinations, these innovations will have a massive impact on how MSP customers will leverage, consume, and manage digital capabilities. Given the uncertainty surrounding these technologies, expect your customers to depend on you for greater technological insights. To accommo- date new demands, MSPs will have to hire new talent, enter new markets, and/or partner with new organizations. “In 2020, the hype around emerging tech remains high, but transformational breakthroughs will be achieved as the decade rolls on,” says Carolyn April, senior director of research and analysis at CompTIA.
Economics 2020: New Money, New Revenue
Since 2010, end customers have automated a significant portion of existing business processes. In the next decade, they will look to create new business value with digital automation. Today, companies ranging from airlines to manufacturers to health care providers have taken baby steps toward digital transfor- mation. Doing so has helped them develop new revenue streams, enter adjacent markets, and create new customer experiences. But this is only a fraction of what is to come. With some pluck and ingenuity, your MSP business could find itself at the heart of digital transformation. This reality will have a profound impact on MSP finances and valuations. Today, MSPs valuations, which are generally pegged to EBITDA, vary greatly. A $1 million MSP with a healthy $200,000 in EBITDA can realistically expect to command 5–6 times that in a sale. But a $20 million MSP with just half of that EBITDA as a percent of revenue can expect more thanks to its free cash flow, which can be used to retire debt more quickly. Valuations will increase even more when MSPs develop repeat- able digital transformation services. Culture 2020: Security Is Your Future In May 2010, Uber went live, ushering in a decade of disruption. The company’s business model and regulatory models were different . Instead of taxi commissions, Uber relied on customer ratings to monitor driver behavior. While the results were mixed, the idea was utterly transforma- tive. In time, countless other tech innovators followed in lodging, consumer services, communications, banking, and the like. At the start of this new decade, however, government officials and industry regulators have said they will no longer sit idly by as industries get disrupted. What does this mean for technology pro- viders? It means they will have to provide new and more advanced services to their customers, especially those that work in regulated industries. Instead of a threat, MSPs may discover this is one of their biggest opportunities ever. Selling compliance as a service (CaaS) seemed like a dream a few years ago. Now it’s a reality. As the decade unfolds, so will other business opportunities, according to Robins from the Technology Marketing Toolkit. “A decade ago, I had my concerns whether this industry was going to be replaced by the likes of a Microsoft or Google that could theoretically sell you a laptop and all of the business services already baked in,” says Robins. But then, cybersecurity attacks began to swarm small busi- nesses. When they did, they provided MSPs with new business opportunities. Here’s to the 2020s and the solution providers who are start- ing it in-step with customer needs instead of lagging behind, like they did a decade ago.
T.C. Doyle is a writer, editor, and storyteller who has covered the technology industry for more than two decades. When he’s not in Silicon Valley or pursuing a story elsewhere around the globe, he can be found in Park City, Utah, where he resides with his wife and two sons.
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AUTOMAT ION VACAT ION
Part 2: The Ultimate, Handy-Dandy, 'Finally Moving To A Marketing System Software' Checklist
Basic Contact Info: o Name (duh!) o Company o Address o Phone o Email Address o Person Type o Industry o ALL Services They Have With You o Contact Owner
How did you fare on the quiz in the last edition of MSP Success that let you know if you are ready for a true marketing system? Did your score lead you to use the first part of this Buyers’ Guide Checklist to start shopping for one? We’re continuing our guide in this edition of MSP Success by looking at the CRM side of the software. Remember that a true marketing system is both a CRM and a marketing automation tool, so I’ll dive into the data side of the CRM this month to show you what you need to look for in the database manage- ment side of your marketing system.
Marketing History: What campaigns have you sent them? What was their response (responded, booked appointment, not inter- ested, etc.)? What is their engagement? What phone calls have been made to them? (Save recordings of those calls in your CRM too!) Relationship Data: Have they given you referrals? Are they a referral from someone else? What associations/group memberships are they in? What events or trade shows have they attended that you have been at?
ALL Notes: If it’s not in your CRM, it didn’t happen!
The most valuable assets in your business are your list and your customers. A CRM system will be the part of your market- ing system software that pulls them together and organizes all the info about your contacts into one database and one plat- form, enabling you to manipulate that data for smarter mar- keting. No more spreadsheets, no more sticky notes, no more “only in your salesperson’s head” data, and no more chaos. (Side Note: Your PSA tool is NOT a true CRM! Don’t even try to substitute its subpar list management capabilities to be your CRM.) It’s important for a marketing system to have a CRM with the ability to store all the important contact data, sales, and market- ing info inside it. What To Actually Store In Your CRM Make sure that, at a minimum, you keep the following data in your CRM and can quickly segment lists based on any of these criteria.
ALL Appointments: o Existing Client QBRs o New Prospect Meetings o Sales Phone Calls o And More
• Email History: What emails were sent, and were they opened or clicked? Ideally, you should be able to connect your Outlook with your CRM to automatically save key emails. Opportunity/Sales History: Specific opportunity details and the outcome (won/lost/ why lost). Now that you have an idea of what to store in your CRM, make sure the CRM part of your marketing system has all of the items in the checklist on the following page. •
How To Get More Clients For Your IT Services Business Need More Clients? Better Clients? That is by far the #1 question I get. There are hundreds, even thousands of ways. Most require significant financial investment. However, I’d like to give you 6 top ways to get more clients that won’t require you to spend a dime on advertising. They’re all here in this free report with bonus video training. Go to www.ToolkitLive.com/6ways to get your free digital download.
WAYS TO DOUBLE SALES AND CLIENTS WithOUT Spending A Dime ON MARKETING OR ADVERTISING
Go to www.ToolkitLive.com/6ways for your FREE Report and Bonus Video Training
Make Sure Your Marketing System Has A CRM That Has … • The ability to create custom fields and tags. Also, are there any limitations on creating these and on creating different field types (data, drop-down, etc.)? • The ability to have BOTH contact and company records AND the ability to sync data across the two. Many CRMs are “contact-centric,” meaning there may not even be com- pany records, and if there are, data doesn’t sync across. If you change a contact’s Person Type field to Client, it should update the company and all contacts associated with the company as well. • The ability to conduct Boolean searches and reports based on any of the criteria above (location, industry, person type, services they have, etc.) and to create a list segment to target for a campaign or display on a reporting dashboard. • The ability to have all leads that opt in to ANY web form be instantly entered into your CRM. • An open API to connect with your PSA tool. Since your two powerhouse applications in your MSP will be your PSA tool and your CRM and marketing automation tool, it is critical (for your sanity) that the two applications connect to keep your two databases synced up. It is a terrible headache and a total waste of time to have to maintain two databases. • The ability to create notes, appointments, and tasks to show all current, future, and historical data. You
should be training all teammembers to put everything into your CRM (again … if it’s not in your CRM, it didn’t happen). This is so everyone knows what has happened with every contact and can find out in an instant. This also protects you. What if your key salesperson leaves and takes all the knowledge with them because they never put it into a CRM? Also, preaching to the choir here, but make sure the CRM software has adequate backup! • EXTREME “user-friendliness.” You can have the best inten- tions and invest to make sure everything is in your CRM, but if it’s clunky, confusing, ugly, or dated, people won’t use it. • Best practices support and training for MSPs about how to organize data to allow for an easy import and ongoing ease of use. Getting all your data into one place and getting your entire team to use it can be tough, so be patient, do your research to choose the right tool, be diligent with training, be specific about what you want/need, use the resources provided to you by the software provider, and, most importantly, don’t procrastinate! Start using a CRM now! n
Full disclosure: We do have a horse in this race. We design, resell, and support an MSP-specific version of Infusionsoft (a TRUE marketing system) to our clients called Robin’s MAP Infusionsoft. For more info on MAP, check out MSPMarketingCRM.com.
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THE ROB IN ROB INS REVEAL
The Art Of Selective Client-Getting How To Make Sure You ONLY Work With Productive, Appreciative, Profitable Clients
A few months ago, a prospect who had requested a sales consultation canceled his appointment after receiving some materials to review prior to the consultation. Of course, he couldn’t just cancel it; he felt compelled to write me a smug dissertation on my stupidity (his words) for sending him an antiquated CD (gasp!) along with multiple reports that were several pages long — far more copy than anyone reads “these days.” If you’ve been in business for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve come across a few “disagreeable” prospects, and maybe a few are even clients now, much to your dismay. So, what can you do about it? There are a few things, actually. For starters, you need to be clear on who your most produc- tive clients are and set up sales and marketing litmus tests to sift, sort, and screen through the majority who do not fit that
profile. I have made it an intention of mine to only work with smart, respectful, competent people who have honest ambi- tion, and I have intentionally designed my coaching groups so that clients enter at the bottom and only ascend to the highest levels by invitation and interviews. Unfortunately, smart, respectful, and competent people are in short supply these days. So, when I find them, I work doubly hard to keep them around and grow my relationship with them. Most people do the opposite, either treating all clients the same or (worse) giving the unproductive, chronically unhappy clients the majority of their time and attention in an attempt to appease them. The best clients get ignored because things are “good.” Furthermore, many business owners let the whiners and complainers erode their confidence and alter how they do business in an attempt to
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make them happy, which can then alienate their best customers. For example, I intentionally send “long” reports and information in advance of a sales meeting as a litmus test. If a prospect isn’t interested enough to read through the free material, how productive are they going to be as a client? The answer is not very. They’re a refund waiting to happen. If the aforemen- tioned prospect regarded what I sent him as “too much information to read,” he’s absolutely going to implode when I ask him to be a serious student who reads, listens to, and learns various lessons from the content we deliver to become an educated marketer and understand the underlying principles, philoso- phies, and strategies necessary to create productive marketing systems. Someone with honest ambition and a good work ethic would eat it up and be delighted to get so much quality material for free. The quick-fix crowd is repulsed. Additionally, the CD in the mail is still a big driver for us in closing new clients. Yes, the media is quickly disappearing, but it’s far from dead yet. This may shock you, but according to an article in Fast Company, 51% of all music is still sold via CD . I’d be an idiot if I stopped sending CDs because some nonreading moron doesn’t have a CD player in his car. I know my business, and that CD still drives a significant number of sales each year, so it stays until the actual testing and results prove different. Many IT companies make the mistake of getting too far ahead of their clients with technology, assuming (wrongly) that everyone has a smartphone and email and prefers digital everything over “old-fashioned” faxes, direct mail, and physical materials. Folks, that’s a giant mistake. You are not your clients, and making decisions based on your per- sonal inclinations over the communication preferences of your clients is an enormous sales-killing mistake. Here’s a very important question to ponder: What litmus tests do you have in place to ensure you only deal with clients who you can be the most productive with? What hoops can you put them through? What are your non-negotiables? Candidly, I made the mistake early on in my business of taking on any client who could fog a mirror and clear a check. I overlooked outrageous insults and seri- ously bad behavior from a handful of clients for fear of backlash, criticism, and getting a bad review online. Nobody needs or wants a vengeful client out in the marketplace with a personal mission to throw tacks under your tires. But here’s what I know: Your regret in bending to the will of an ill-fitting client will be greater than your regret in missing the money they represent. It is better to put yourself in a situation of not needing their money or approval by having a solid marketing system in place to consistently bring you fresh new leads and opportunities. Aside from the obvious benefit of more sales, it strengthens your resolve and lowers your tolerance for bad behavior.
Now, one final word on critics. It’s best if you develop thick skin and ignore them, or they’ll poison your thoughts and actions to the point that you’re not able to do anything for fear of making a mistake. Anyone with a public persona who puts themselves “out” in the world while attempting something of significance knows that opinions are like arseholes — everyone’s got ’em, and they all stink. If you are attempting to do any kind of marketing, get ready for it. You will be attacked and criticized by people who will freely give you their unwelcome advice on what you should be doing and point out what you’ve done wrong. Nuts to ’em. One of the downsides of social media is that it’s given a platform to every vile idiot who feels the need to give their uneducated and unwelcome opinions about other people. Some are out-of-control attack dogs who cross the line, spreading total fabrications and out- right lies. If you wallow in what’s being said about you and to you, it can seriously hinder your confidence and distract you from more productive work. To the best of your ability, ignore them and let the swamp urchins feed on each other. n
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MSP SPOTL IGHT
And StoredTech Puts Everything Into People You Get Out What You Put In
Company: Stored Technology Solutions, Inc. (StoredTech)
What Are The Top Three Metrics You Use To Measure Your Business, And Why?
Year Founded: 2010
They are customer delight, client retention, and resource efficiency.
Customer delight is a nebulous term, but for us, it represents the full life cycle of the client. We want to make sure they’re happy from the moment they walk through the door, so we engage with them immediately. Once they’re handed off to a certain location within our business, depending on what we deem is the best course of action for them, we’re always sure to track every movement as they progress through our workflow. Our No. 1 objective is to make sure we’re a good fit for our customers. The way we find that out is through surveying everything — and I mean everything . Project completion, IT issues, billing services, and communication tactics are just a few examples. We make it so that every step of the way, our customers have a chance to give us their opinions. We track our failures more than we track our successes. This plays into easily keeping track of our customer retention because it helps us see who left us and why. If we weren’t a good fit, we always make sure we understand why. Sometimes, it’s a reasonable answer. For example, maybe they want to look for someone cheaper. We understand choices like those, and they have every right to make them. But I’m excited to say that we track almost 80% of what we call “boomerang customers,” those customers who leave us then come back. We always study why they leave and why they come back. We
Headquartered: Queensbury, New York
Geographic Market: Global
Top Growth Indicator: Over 53,000 endpoints
YoY % Of Growth: 30%
CEO And Founder: Mark Shaw
want to learn lessons from them. Was it one incident or a number of things? Did they have an issue with our philosophy? They often find it’s because no one else could do the kind of work we can do, and we take pride in that. Resource efficiency boils down to having specific metrics for our employees to hit. We make sure they have the tools they need to achieve those goals, and they’re rewarded and compensated based on how well they perform. We actually make this public information to the entire team by sharing it on a board in a communal space, so you see how well you’re doing in comparison to your coworkers. Everyone’s goals and achievements are very clear, and everyone knows when they are or aren’t hitting them. Friendly competition stimulates a lot of passion to do good work, and this comes full circle because it motivates our staff to focus on providing customer delight. What Is The Top Lesson You Had To Learn That Allowed You To Kick-start Your Business Growth? I learned to stop trying to do everything myself by delegating and hiring smart people who can guide me in ways I can’t guide myself or some members of my team. These lessons didn’t come quickly or easily, though; it took around five years for us to get here. I worked in the business rather than on the business. It can be hard to let go of some control and implement new systems after so many years of ingrained systems. But now, we can take a step back, look around, and confidently say, “This is good. This is really good.” It just takes time to find the right flow. What Would You Say Was The Single 'Secret To Your Success' This Past Year? We have an amazing group of A-players at StoredTech. We’ve discovered that when you have B- or C-players in the mix, it tends to bring down the entire team. We’ve had a lot of successful moments over the past year, but when it boils down to it, removing those Bs and Cs to make room for only top-graded candidates really made an impact, even though it was a rough process to go through. It’s always exciting to bring on the A-players you’ve spent valuable time courting, but it’s heartbreaking to let go of people because even if they’re not the right fit for your business, they can still be good people. You forge friendships when you work closely with people; it can’t be helped. You get to know them and their families. But you’ve got to know when it’s the best time to make the right move for the business, not for your friends. What Was The Biggest Challenge You Had To Overcome This Past Year Related To Either Reaching That Growth Or As A Result Of That Growth? Finding the best-of-the-best staff, especially in our field of work, takes a lot of time and energy. When you go out looking for the very best people — the ones at the top of their games — they take longer to court and hire because it’s a matter
of luring them away from their current situations. In a job market like IT, the unemployment rate is near zero. People get great offers from great companies and get comfortable with the work they do. So, it takes a lot of extra effort to bring that top talent into your circle and convince them to stay. But it’s well worth it. Who Would You Say Is The Most Impactful Business Leader Or Business Thought- Leader Whose Techniques Or Leadership Style You Either Try To Emulate, Follow, Or Are Influenced By? Why? Steve Jobs had a fanatical viewpoint on quality, which is what I like to think we have for customer delight. His passion and focus made him a master of his craft and made him the best at what he did. His company continues to be the best because of the passion he instilled and the systems he implemented. There’s a lot to learn from someone like that, both in emotional investment and business practices. What Book Would You Recommend To Other MSPs Or SMBs Trying To Grow Their Businesses? I have two. The first is “Hire the People You Want (and the Questions You Must Ask to Get Them!)” by Michael Cruz. It has been instrumental in changing the way we hire people who will stick with us and become part of the culture and fabric of our organization. The second is “Finish Big: How Great Entrepreneurs Exit Their Companies on Top” by Bo Burlingham. It challenges you to start thinking today, even if you have no plans of exiting, about your company’s true value. Many of us aren’t even close to thinking about selling or exiting, but we should because there’s value to gain from just thinking about it. Succession planning, building a leadership team, and gathering advisors are all things many of us don’t think we have time for, but they are critical for growth. In Closing, Do You Have Any Specific Advice Or Words Of Wisdom That You Would Give To Other MSPs Looking To Grow Or Build A Successful Exit For Their Business? Focus on your core, and do what you do well. We have a saying at StoredTech: “If you have a better chance of doing more harm than good, then don’t do it.” Take risks. If something is pushing you outside your comfort zone, it’s probably not something bad. Do things you wouldn’t normally do. Always take the pulse of the client. If you delight customers every single day in every way, they will be your raving fans and help propel your business. I think most of us have a gut feeling about what is right. Listen to it. If it feels wrong, it probably is. n
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Military Tested Leadership Strategies From A Navy Seal To Guide MSPs Into Everyday Battle INS IDER ACCESS ‘Unmitigated Discipline’
In 2004, Ramadi, Iraq, became the center of control for the Middle Eastern terrorist group al-Qaeda. Two-year battles ensued over the city of 500,000 people, during which the law was nonexistent, bloodshed was constant, and devastation was unrelenting. U.S. forces posted battle stations within the city and managed to keep al-Qaeda at bay until everything came to a head in March 2006. The United States’ position was threatened, and sensing urgency and rising tensions, the U.S. Marines, Army, and Navy partnered together to steamroll al-Qaeda and take back control centers in a pivotal location in the Iraq War. The result was a near-complete toppling of the once-powerful terrorist strong- hold in the Iraqi city. None of this would have been possible without military lead- ership having its boots on the ground and executing, supporting, and pushing these teams through power moves deployed by the intensifying U.S. forces in the Middle East. Today, one of those leaders is sharing his secrets with busi- ness leaders. Navy SEAL team officer Jocko Willink will speak at the 2020 Technology Marketing Toolkit IT Sales and Marketing Boot Camp this coming April. A lifelong devotion to becoming a commando led Jocko to service at age 18. Over a 20-year military career, Jocko served as a leader in the Navy SEALS, trained fellow SEALs on the complexities of combat in the Middle East, and earned multiple military honors. Today, Jocko is a New York Times Bestselling author, host of the leadership podcast, Jocko Podcast, and co-founder of Echelon Front, an organization devoted to preparing and training business leaders. And, like so many of us, this soldier’s start began in his backyard. The Origins Of A Leader As a kid, Jocko was painting mud on his face and preparing for an imaginary war he had created. Battle lines were drawn in the dirt of his yard, while every piece of wood or stick he could find became a toy gun. There was nothing but his own backyard shadowing his mission, but that didn’t matter. He was going to lead his men to victory. When the East Coast-grown boy discovered Navy SEALs, the image of what his future could be like as a commando started to unfold. Jocko enlisted in the Navy at 18 years old and was immediately stripped of his freedoms. This wasn’t his backyard anymore; he was becoming a soldier. Jocko trained with real machinery, underwent intensive boot camp operations, and prepared for real combat. Eventually, Jocko worked his way through the ranks of the Navy to earn that additional freedom and become the
soldier he always dreamed he could be. Jocko trained as a Navy SEAL and was ultimately named an officer. Jocko’s distinguished
20-year career saw him deployed to Iraq, where he led Navy SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser through the Battle of Ramadi. Leading alongside Colonel Sean MacFarland, Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Clark, and Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Neary, Jocko’s Navy SEAL team joined the U.S. Army, Marines, and Iraqi Special Forces to resecure war-torn Ramadi during the nine-month battle. Together, multiple branches of the U.S. military and Iraqi Special Forces were able to restore their presence and pressure over al-Qaeda to attempt to rebuild peace in the turbulent and war-devastated region of the Middle East. For his service, Jocko was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star, and Unit Bruiser was the most decorated Special Oper- ations Unit during the Iraq War. After his deployment, Jocko served as the officer in charge of training for all West Coast SEAL Teams. “It was the best job ever,” Jocko says. “Being on the SEAL teams is awesome. You’re working with a bunch of people and have awesome missions. Your job is very fun day to day if you like being outside and diving out of airplanes and diving into the water.” The Distinguished Navy SEAL Today As Jocko neared the end of a lustrous career, the lifelong Navy SEAL was prompted with an interesting proposition. The CEO of a company approached him about speaking to their team about the value and qualities of leadership. This CEO was a friend, and while public speaking wasn’t exactly in the career military man’s job description, Jocko knew he had lessons to share. When Jocko finished the presentation, his friend had another favor to ask. They asked Jocko to present his lessons and exper- tise to every division of the company. Even better, the CEO was going to pay him. It was a done deal, and off Jocko went. That’s where a little bit of fate intervened. The CEO of the parent company happened to be sitting in the audience at one of those divisional speaking engagements and was so impressed with what Jocko had to say that they requested Jocko speak to every CEO in the company. Once Jocko finished speaking to those 40–45 CEOs, the requests for more presentations flooded in. What was once an unclear path after retirement was crystalizing. There was a need for the leadership values and lessons he had gleaned from a career in the military, and rather than sit on these lessons, Jocko saw an opportunity to lead through the battlefield of the boardroom.
“There was a high demand for it,” Jocko says. “What we realized is that in any organization’s leadership, there’s a big thing. There’s a lot of civilian companies that don’t have leadership training, and they don’t learn that on the job if you don’t have good leaders to learn from. There’s a demand for leadership training.” On The Frontlines In 2015, Jocko partnered with fellow U.S. Navy SEAL Officer Leif Babin to co-author The New York Times' best-selling book, “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win.” The book pushes leaders to evaluate the ways in which they lead and challenges them to become better for their teams and in their personal lives. Together, Leif and Jocko provide readers with a thorough military-grade guide to navigating the nuances and landmines of leadership to become the best versions of them- selves for their team and mission. But the pursuit of education didn’t stop there. Jocko and Leif once again partnered together to found Echelon Front to address the need for effective leadership training for organizations at all levels. The company now deploys 10 experts to teach leadership skills and styles the military ingrains in soldiers like Jocko and Leif before trusting them to lead a group of men and women into intense combat zones. Building off the lessons Jocko and Leif compiled in “Extreme Ownership,” the team engages business leaders across the nation to create a culture of pride in work while fully accepting responsibility for the actions and results of their leadership. To encourage finding the balance between pushing hard and being compassionate about a team’s success, Jocko, Leif, and the Echelon Front team deploy the Extreme Ownership Principles to serve their lesson. They’re the very same tactics Jocko and Leif were taught in SEAL training, and while the war zone is vastly different than the boardroom, these tactics are still vital, Jocko says. These Extreme Ownership Principles give leaders a guide to that everyday battle. 1. Cover and Move: Just like the military teams that weave and advance toward an enemy target, your team has to be coordinated in the goals of your mission and the steps you are taking to get there. As Jocko often explains, if you have a sales team that is underselling what the manufac- turing floor can create, then your sales team is failing your company and the manufacturing team. They are leaving the team dead in the water. Likewise, a manufacturing team that cannot produce the quality materials a sales team is pushing is failing the sales team. Sales will plum- met, and you will lose customers. 2. Simple: This one is easy. Keep it simple. There’s no need for added complexities in your fight toward optimal company culture and production. Find the easiest, most effective, and most powerful way to get there and deploy it — simply. 3. Prioritize and Execute: Does this sound familiar? You settle into work on Monday morning, field 20 emails, prepare for the big meeting in an hour, manage a complaint from the floor, and overhear of a budding prob- lem in your shipping area, among dozens of other matters that pull your attention away. How do you manage this? Where many untrained leaders fail is in their inability to
prioritize the biggest problems ahead of them and focus on what they can accomplish rather than everything they want to accomplish. 4. Decentralize Command: When Jocko was leading a team of trained Navy SEALs into combat, he wasn’t taking the brunt of the responsibility of the tasks simply because of his rank. He was relying on the leadership capabilities of every member of Unit Bruiser. He recognized that other members of his team had skills that went beyond his own capacities, and he capitalized on them. A successful business leader does the same. Disciplined To Succeed Becoming a great leader doesn’t happen overnight. It takes discipline, courage, and the foresight to understand where you need to grow and how you can get there. When Jocko spent his childhood days fighting his backyard war, he didn’t let each day pass hoping opportunity would land on his lap. Instead, he remained dedicated to his dream, enlisted, and climbed a ladder that many struggle to climb. All it took was that first step and a willingness to work. “I’m not a big believer in motivation,” Jocko says. “... To think that every morning I feel like a spring chicken to go lift weights and go for a run … I’m not motivated. It’s because I demand unmitigated discipline.” n
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