Business continuity is a great way to show off to a new prospect. It makes you look like you care, and it’s easy to talk about because it uses fear, uncertainty, and doubt to sell a suite of products … almost certainly guaranteeing a sale. Typically, backup and disaster recovery (BDR) products are the crowning jewel of “business continuity,” particularly because of malware and ransomware. Additionally, redundant internet using SD-WAN and other fun acronyms have given us, MSPs, some easy ways to make a client feel like they’re being taken care of by using the latest and greatest state of the art technologies.
The problem is, business continuity is far more than just BDR/SD-WAN/etc. In fact, BDR has become more about a product to check off the sell sheet than a service. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen prospects burning cash on a BDR appliance when all they truly needed was file-based backup.
To be clear, I’m not minimizing the importance of any of these services, but I am going to be highly critical about how we sell them and the fact that we’re not selling business continuity, we’re selling what’s hot and popular.
Ultimately, business continuity in its purest form answers one question with several nested situations: “How do I get back to business if something bad happens?”
In order to thoughtfully and meaningfully solve a business continuity issue, we must consider items that go far beyond who provides our backups, can they be spun up quickly, and will there be connectivity. Here are three considerations to ensure you’re selling true business continuity and not just your BDR vendor’s latest fad:
- Consider the worst-case scenario: If the worst disaster happens, not every client needs to be up and running, some may just need their financials to file an insurance claim and collect a check. This type of scenario affects how we will protect the client AND what will go into their plan.
- Consider the most likely scenarios: Again, even a mild situation may not be as grave as we think it should be. Keeping the client’s priorities in mind will make them feel valued and will, in turn, get serious buy-in from them regarding your proposed solution.
- Consider the not-so-obvious: Sure, we can get your software back up and running, but where will you work from? How will you connect? What computers or devices will you use to connect there? Will any DNS records need to be changed? And so on…
- Get the plan down on paper: Draw it out and use pictures, if necessary, to illustrate all the moving parts. Do this with the client so they can tell you if you missed anything. Again, this helps with buy-in.
- Plan to practice: Be sure to budget time into your costs to practice the plan. We rehearse (actual cutover to a recovery environment with firewall build and everything but internet connectivity) our business continuity plans with clients and it takes time – a lot of it. Each time we do, we find an issue or a challenge that cuts our recovery time by 10-20% each subsequent time. Factor this into your cost calculations!
Finally, when meeting initially to discuss business continuity, focus on the problems only. This is important because if you walk in the door with a set of tools in mind, you won’t be able to see the real issues since you’re focused only on the specific problems your tools can solve – you risk missing a key issue by not looking at the big picture. Leave the solutions for your sales presentation and don’t be afraid to explore potential solutions you haven’t considered previously.
About The ASCII Group, Inc.
The ASCII Group is the premier community of North American MSPs, VARs and solution providers. The group has over 1,300 members located throughout the U.S. and Canada, and membership encompasses everyone from credentialed MSPs serving the SMB community to multi-location solution providers with a national reach. Founded in 1984, ASCII provides services to members including leveraged purchasing programs, education and training, marketing assistance, extensive peer interaction and more. ASCII works with a vibrant ecosystem of major technology vendors that complement the ASCII community and support the mission of helping MSPs and VARs to grow their businesses. For more information, please visit www.ascii.com.