Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Data Breach and Identity Security Beyond the Technical

I received my new business insurance policy. I'm not sure why I look through these things except to keep an eye out for things that don't make sense. I say I don't know, because I fully admit that I've never really figured out insurance terminology.

In my opinion, if you need an example of industry-specific terminology, insurance is a great place to start. Maybe insurance sales people say the same thing about technology. I understand every single word I read - until I read them in a sentence in my insurance policy.

Anyway . . . I'm thumbing through this fat document and I find the page printed here:

Here's what's going on here. First, this notice is information only, not part of cybersecurity insurance or even the business property insurance to which it is attached. Second, my insurance provider wants me to educate myself about data breach, identity "theft," and the laws in California related to those things.

Third, this is a self-help portal for information. But, fourth, there's a phone number I can call to help me with both breach preparedness and breach response.

I've heard lots of smart people (including Mike Semel of Semel Consulting) point out that you should be looking to insurance companies for leadership. They've been hit by ransomware where it hurts: their wallet! And they've responded. One response, obviously, is to raise everyone's rates. Another is help to minimize the problems that can lead to payouts.

Note, also: You and your clients have some serious responsibilities if you want to get a payout after a data breach. If you don't know what's required, you probably don't have a checklist to make sure you're insured.

In this case, I'm dealing with Nationwide Commercial Insurance. Once I logged into the site, I found a treasure trove of free services, including:

- Pre-Incident Legal Consulting (one hour). There is a list of topics that can be discussed, including risk assessment, incident response planning, and development of related policies and procedures.

- Cybersecurity Risk Consulting (one hour). Plus discounted rates on services. These services include security audits, vulnerability assessments, and penetration testing.

I know an hour doesn't go far, but it's a start!

The site also includes an "Incident Roadmap" that can be used as a starter for building your own incident response. And there are sections for news, legal updates, risk assessment tools, and more. There's also some good training from some brand names you've seen before.

Two lessons from this excursion into my insurance policy:

1) Thumb through your policies and see what services you might have available to you for the money you're already paying. And if you're not willing to do that, call your agent and ask them to go fishing for it.

2) If you've been putting off "dealing" with the cybersecurity threats to your business as well as your clients, it's really time to dig in. At least protect your company, your data, and your butt.

Comments welcome.


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Brand New Five-Week Class: MSP Professional Sales Program

Brand New Five-Week Class: MSP Professional Sales Program 

Taught By: James Kernan

Five Tuesdays

April 27 - May 25  - Register Now

All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

Want to master MSP sales? Small Biz Thoughts has partnered with award-winning sales training company Kernan Consulting to offer the MSP Professional Sales Certification Program. This content-heavy, motivational program will reveal how top-producers succeed in 2021’s uncertain marketplace:

1. Bring new prospects into your pipeline

2. Shorten the sales cycles

3. Increase average deal size

4. Sell value so you do not have to compromise on price

Learn the industry’s best practices on the overall sales process from Prospecting, Qualifying, Needs Analysis and Assessments, Connecting your value proposition to the customers issues. Tips to get through the Sales Process faster and Closing the Deal!

The MSP Professional Sales Certification Program will include five live training sessions delivered in 60-minute classes. Designed for technology business owners, sales managers, and sales professionals, this training program covers industry best practices for selling contractual monthly recurring revenue.

Complete all 5 courses – receive MSP Professional Sales Certification certificate

The MSP Professional Sales Certification Program includes five 60-minute trainings. After completing all five sessions, you will receive a sales certification from Kernan Consulting. All five sessions will be recorded LIVE and delivered with a PDF workbook. For more information on James Kernan or Kernan Consulting please visit:

Weekly Session Outline:

1. What is Value Based Selling?

  • Why value-based selling is best
  • 5 principles of value-based selling
  • Matching your solution to their business challenge

2. Qualifying

  • Why you do not chase after every opportunity
  • 8 step process to qualify all opportunities
  • The power of NO

3. Sales Process

  • 7 step sales cycle
  • Emotional sales cycle
  • The customers buying process

4. Framework for Successful Sales Departments

  • Create your Sales Plan
  • Goals/KPIs
  • Unique Sales Proposition (USP)
  • Compensation Plans
  • Corporate Marketing Leads
  • Sales Skill Training/Mentoring
  • Communication/Meeting Schedule
  • The Right Tools
  • Staffing the sales team
  • Documented Sales Process

5. Negotiating/Closing

  • How to overcome objections
  • Trial closes
  • How to ask for the order
  • Letter of Understand technique

About James Kernan

James Kernan is the author of the 36 Month Millionaire Program, and recently published books, Leadership Essentials for Successful Executives and Business Tips. For the past 12 years, James has served as a Principal Consultant for Kernan Consulting and provides Coaching, Advising and Mentoring programs to entrepreneurs and leaders. Kernan Consulting offers One on One Coaching, CEO Peer Groups, M&A Consulting and online training programs.

James is a frequent speaker for TechSelect, CompTIA, XChange, Convergence, Robin Robins Bootcamp, HTG, Mastermind Peer Groups, SMB Nation, SMB TechFest, and Microsoft IAMCP events. He has been recognized and written up as an extraordinary “example of success” in industry publications such as CRN, Business Solutions, VAR Business, CRM Today, and Inc. Magazine.

Includes five weeks of webinars with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor. All classes are recorded for download.

This course is intended for business owners, managers, and sales people. It is particularly useful for the Sales department.

Only $299

Register Now

Check it out at


Monday, April 19, 2021

Get In On this Fun Give-Away Free!

 Inspired by a recent phone call . . .

I have ordered a bunch of door hangers. As a service to our Community. This is roughly 8.5" x 3.5" and is a great door hanger to keep you of the Internet meme scene!

You can get yours FREE by simply filling out the form below.

I will be happy to send you TWO of these door hangers - absolutely free of charge. That's one to use and one to share with someone who might need it more than you. <wink> <just sayin>

Obviously, you need to give us your correct address to receive your your freebie via US mail.

* Sorry to folks outside the US. If you live outside the US, but assume that I owe you a beer. Remind me of that when I see you.

Yes, we'll add you to our newsletter. Yes, you can always unsubscribe. 

Thank you, as always, for your support!


Friday, April 16, 2021

Grab This Amazing Sales Proposal Template

In case you haven't been following . . . 

I'm in the middle of a 50-week video series (and podcast) call The Cheeky Sales Coach. The videos are on my Relax Focus Succeed YouTube Channel:

and the index of videos and podcasts is at Cheeky Sales Coach:

This week I posted Episode 23, which includes a walk-through of seven things you need to know about creating a great proposal. But the real juicy goodness is in the premium download that accompanies this video. 

Note: If you are a member of my Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community, you can grab a discount code and register for premium content on The Cheeky Sales Coach for FREE. 

If you are not a community member, you can still buy a one-time pass to the premium content for only $99. This template download is easily worth that much!

This download is a great example of an “Amazing” proposal, including a detailed example in PowerPoint format. It also includes a video of me presenting the proposal exactly as I would present to a prospect. 

Once you understand the key elements of creating a proposal (see the video), you can customize this template to build your ideal client presentation. We also show you how to record your presentation on Zoom so you can send the MP4 to your prospect, if necessary.

The following items are included in this Zip file:

  • The Template Proposal in PowerPoint format. Edit and customize everything for your business.
  • The Template Proposal in PDF format
  • A recorded presentation in MP4 format

Download Now at

Watch Cheeky Sales Coach, Episode 23 on YouTube. (And, HEY: Go ahead and subscribe to that channel.)

Feedback welcome!


Thursday, April 15, 2021

Mike Semel Joins the Small Biz Thoughts Roundtable

I am proud to announce that Mike Semel will join us on the May SBT Roundtable. This intense conversation will be all about thinking at a higher level.

Mike Semel is recognized as a thought leader in the compliance and IT industries. Mike developed Semel Systems, a series of training systems for MSPs to help jump-start sales based on cybersecurity and compliance. He is the President and Chief Security Officer of Semel Consulting, focused on regulatory compliance and Business Continuity planning. 

The SBT Roundtable is a monthly escape from the daily grind to dive into a purely intellectual discussion about thinking at a higher level as a business owner. Our previous guests have included Fortune 100 creative directors and some of the best-known thought leaders in public relations, marketing, and (of course) IT services.

Our goal with the SBT Roundtable is to move guests away from their standard "prepared remarks" and talk about how they think differently from the rest of us. 

The SBT Roundtable is a members-only event for the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community. It happens once a month and has become one of the primary benefits of membership.

More about Mike:

Mike is a CMMC Registered Practitioner, Certified Security Compliance Specialist, Disaster Recovery Institute Certified Business Continuity, Certified HIPAA Professional, and Certified Health IT Specialist. Mike wrote the Certified HIPAA Security Professional (CHSP) and Certified Workforce HIPAA training for 4MedApproved. He has owned or managed technology companies for over 30 years; served as Chief Information Officer (CIO) for a hospital and a K-12 school district; and managed operations at an online backup company.

And, of course, he's the author of the book HIPAA Headaches.

Join Us!

If you're a SBT Technology Community Member, be sure to join us!

If you're not a member, join us. Then you can join us. :-)


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Alan Weinberger is on a Mission to Elevate the Role of the Managed Service Provider to the Public

The picture is mine. The press release is from ASCII . . .

A new book released by ASCII’s CEO explains the necessity of the MSP and how they are pivotal in the ongoing fight on cyber security 

Bethesda, Maryland – April 14, 2021 – The ASCII Group, a membership-based community of independent North American MSPs, VARs and Solution Providers, is pleased to announce that its Chairman and CEO, Alan D. Weinberger, has published a book illuminating to the general public how important a Managed Service Provider is in maintaining the health of our economy and our infrastructure itself, in the new cyber security era.

Weinberger’s book, “The Doctor’s In: Treating America’s Greatest Cyber Security Threat” explores the ever-changing online world and how businesses can safeguard and equip themselves with the best protection - in the form of a Managed Service Provider. In an easy-to-read format, the book explores how MSPs help us protect our ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ in our new digital age. The book also features forewords by noted experts in the field, Theresa Payton and Frank Abagnale.

“Alan has done an excellent job in helping the end-user to understand the necessity of the MSP in keeping the IT components of virtually every size company operating smoothly. Like a virologist today, there is no standing on past laurels when a criminal component is looking for new ways to get through the body or current IT defenses,” said Alan Bayles, a lawyer and businessman in New York City.

A long-standing supporter of IT professionals, Weinberger founded The ASCII Group in 1984 in Washington D.C., recognizing the important role these individuals played in the IT revolution of the 1980s.

“Alan Weinberger brings his decades of IT channel experience to bear on the topic of how Managed Service Providers are the indispensable link in the technology chain for small businesses the world over. Alan provides a bit of historical context and then explains the critical role that MSPs play in the deployment, maintenance, and ongoing securing of IT in businesses of all sizes,” said Joshua Liberman, President, Net Sciences, Inc. 

“The Doctor’s In: Treating America’s Greatest Cyber Security Threat” is a 62-page book with a retail price of $10. The ISBN is 978-1-6366-1343-7. It was published by Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For more information go to the online bookstore at  

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 and international 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 leading and 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


Tuesday, April 06, 2021

GreenLink Networks Announces Larry Meador Joins as Channel Manager

My friends at GreenLink slide this note under my door . . .

GreenLink Networks Announces Larry Meador Joins as Channel Manager

Addison, Texas – April 6, 2021 – GreenLink Networks, a channel-only provider of Business VoIP Services, is pleased to announce the appointment of Larry Meador as Channel Manager. In this role, Larry will be responsible for managing and developing GreenLink’s community of MSP partners across the country.

Larry is an industry veteran and well-known in the channel, and prior to joining GreenLink Networks, he was Senior Solutions Manager at CNET Content Solutions. He has also held Sales Management roles with Corel Corporation, Fujitsu and other retailers.

GreenLink Networks was started by an MSP with a vision to achieve the right balance between flexibility in services, reliability in uptime and call quality, and a commitment to partners by being 100% channel-focused.

“We are thrilled to have Larry join our team because he fits our core values and company culture. His dedication to his MSP relationships and commitment to the channel made it an easy decision for us,” said Mayron Herrera, CEO & Co-founder, GreenLink Networks. 

“GreenLink has quickly become a well-known and formidable competitor in the VoIP/UCaaS space. They truly care about helping their clients and are devoted to building long-term relationships with them,” said Meador.  “I’m honored to become a member of the GreenLink team and look forward to growing what they have started!”

“Larry’s 25 years of experience within the channel makes him the perfect addition to our team. We look forward to him showcasing our business communication solutions and helping our partners succeed,” said Jhovanny Rodriguez, Vice-President and Co-founder, GreenLink Networks. 

For additional information about GreenLink Networks, visit Follow GreenLink Networks on Twitter @getgreenlink. 

About GreenLink Networks

Founded by Managed IT Service providers Mayron Herrera and Jhovanny Rodriquez, GreenLink Networks is a channel-only provider of Business VoIP Services with a generous partner program. The portfolio of VoIP services includes Cloud Business Phone Service (Hosted PBX) and SIP trunking. GreenLink Networks is compatible with multiple handset brands, offers flexible procurement options including purchase, rentals or use of existing IP enabled phones. For more information visit 


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

How's Your Vendor BS-ometer?

Maybe I was just in the right mood at the right time, but I was thoroughly impressed with a little game show video ID Agent put together recently, promoting their appearance at the MVP Growthfest. Here's the LinkedIn post:

I didn't find the muppet/puppet particularly compelling, but I *LOVED* the game show. First, it was fun. Second, it was engaging. Third, it's so simple that I have to figure out how I'm going to do something like this - for fun or business.

As I told Matt Solomon from ID Agent, I was jealous throughout this video. It was original. And, most importantly, it wasn't just another webinar!

I shared this video with several people. One of them didn't give it a second glance before he responded that he just doesn't pay attention to vendor BS anymore. My response was that (as an old man), I try to find inspiration anywhere I can. And I don't close the door to inspiration just because of the messenger.

But that got me thinking about a couple of questions. First, how do you view vendor-generated information? Do you think it's all BS? Do you think it's sincere? Do you think vendors care about you? And, Second, how has the pandemic-induced isolation affected your view of vendors and their messaging?

For the truly cynical, vendors just want to keep singing the same old song, do nothing new, and keep signing up partners for ever and ever, amen. If you've been in the business for ten, fifteen, or twenty years, you've seen this again and again. "Channel Chiefs" get together in a never-ending series of events and award each other Lucite trophies to take home to the cash cow in hopes of living long enough to see show.

I have a different view of the world. I have always relied on good vendors to make my business better. That's why, when I have a vendor on the SMB Community Podcast, I always ask the question straight out: "How do I make money with your product/service?" Speeds and feeds are awesome. Widgets and gadgets are fun. But, ultimately, I don't care about features as much as I care about providing better service to clients and making more money doing it.

I have always relied on vendors to provide education. While they are focused on their newest product, the part I care about is how to make money integrating that product into my service offering. Whether it was Microsoft, Intel, HP, or others, I "used" vendors to improve my business. I took the free education and made money from it.

Yes, there is a certain level of selling, but that's the price of admission. Most of the shows we go to are made possible by vendor sponsors. Much of the free education is only free because a vendor is paying for it. So you sit through the pitch.

I have been honored to work on white papers, webinars, classes, and a variety of roadshows and trainings with vendors. I have been most impressed with vendors who have an ongoing commitment to partner education. And here's the trick a few vendors have figured out: The education works best when it is a sincere attempt to help IT service providers to be more successful. When a vendor "gives first" with training like this, the partners are very open to a discussion of deeper partnerships.

In recent years, I have been very impressed with the ongoing efforts of Sherweb and Acronis. Both companies have made large investments in partner training on the business side of business. Note: I consider Sherweb to be in the "young and scrappy" category while I consider Acronis to be in the "older and established" category. So, you see, vendors don't have to at a particular stage of their maturity to provide good information to IT partners.

The Current Environment

Let's face it: Vendors have had a tough year. Starting in March 2020, they had to shift (rather suddenly) to a remote-only marketing environment. Some had plans in the works already. Others had to pivot quite suddenly from an essentially in-person-only marketing program.

I would typify many of the suddenly-remote events as just plain horrible. Recorded conference presentations with no interaction were the norm. Many vendors literally took their 30 minute stage presentations and recorded them as if they were Zoom calls. 

My understanding is that most vendors actually did well and reached their target sales numbers. That's cool. But, remember, that's in a world where we, the viewers, had no other options. 

Far too many IT professionals were suddenly watching more webinars, even though the content was far from interesting, useful, or compelling. Just as no one ever got fired for buying IBM, no vendor marketing manager ever got fired for holding a boring, self-serving webinar.

As the world begins to open up, we are quickly seeing the "Live Event" market return to pre-pandemic levels. My friend Dave Sobel (from The Killing IT Podcast) and I always disagree on how many events will go back to live. My personal opinion is: ALL of them. The only ones that won't be back are events that didn't do well and were destined to go away anyway.

I hope that you seriously consider evaluating whether webinars and live events are worth your time. Ask yourself: Why are you attending? Do you want to learn more about a new product? Do you want to get an education on best business practices? 

I hope you are NOT attending events because there's nothing better to do. If that's the case, go sit in you back yard and read a good book. Don't waste your time with online events just because you're bored.

I sincerely hope that more vendors take a tip from ID Agent and do something a little different. It doesn't have to be earth-shattering or amazing. One percent different is enough to stand out in a huge cloud of same-ness.

What do you think? Has your BS-ometer been recalibrated in the last year?

- - - - -

FTC Note: No one paid me to say anything here. ID Agent is not a client of mine. Sherweb and Acronis have been clients of mine. Nothing here is meant to represent the broader universe or the IT Service Provider industry. And I make no claims about whether anything here represents anything other than just my opinion. (And I think the FTC guidelines are watery enough to be useless.)


Monday, March 22, 2021

Dave Sobel to Join the SBT Roundtable - April 1st

Dave Sobel
to Join the SBT Roundtable - April 1st

Long-time community leader Dave Sobel joins us for the April SBT Roundtable. Members will find the link in your Dashboard.

Dave is a former MSP and has worked with a few vendors. Currently, he runs the MSP Radio network, producing the Business of Tech podcast and videos.

And, of course, Dave is a co-host on the Killing IT podcast.

For many years, Dave has been a community builder and a pioneer in the SMB IT consulting community. He is, quite honestly, a thought leader of the first order!

About the SBT Roundtable

The SBT Roundtable is a special program inside the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community. We meet once a month (on the First Thursday of the month) in a webinar format via Zoom.

Basically, we have a high-level conversation that we hope adds some "mental DNA" to the normal business- and tech-focused discussions that we normally find ourselves in.

Members have found these meetings very educational.

If you are a member of the SBT Technology Community: Plan to Join us! The link is at the top of your dashboard.

If you are NOT a Community member, please Join Us . . . and then you can plan to join us!


Monday, March 15, 2021

Class - Managing Your Service Board - Starts March 23rd

Managing Your Service Board - Setup, Core SOPs, and Daily Procedures

5-Week class starts March 23rd

- Five Tuesdays: March 23 - April 20 - Register Now

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

This course covers the most important pieces of making your PSA (Professional Services Administration) service board work effectively. Your PSA is the brain center of your entire operation.

Most Managed Service Providers don't use their PSA systems efficiently. In fact, most of them only use 10-20% of the capabilities of their PSA. This costs you money because you have the tool to run everything in your business more effectively. But if you don't put the right information into the tool, then you can't get the reports you need to improve your business.

This course covers the daily operation of a managed service business - or any IT shop with a service board and a one or more technicians who execute the service. It assumes you have a service board or PSA (Professional Services Administration) and a service manager.

Whether you sell “break fix” or flat fee services, a service board will take your company to the next level – if you use it right. In addition to covering setup and core standard operating procedures, we'll get into the "nitty gritty" of running a service board and managing the service department.

Which PSA?

I used ConnectWise for four years in my business. Then I switched to Autotask and used that for five years. Eventually, I moved to LogicNow (SolarWinds MSP) and used that for four years.

On top of all that, I've worked closely with coaching client who have used all of these products. This course is intended to apply to all PSAs. I will point out areas where differences are most obvious.

You will learn

  • How tickets should flow into, through, and off of the service board
  • How to set up the core components of a service board
    • Priorities
    • Statuses
    • Workflows
    • Time Estimates
  • The most important processes and procedures for making the board work effectively once it's set up
  • Introducing new processes to you employees
  • Getting clients to understand the new processes
  • Time tracking the right way
  • The most important reports you need to run
    • Every Day
    • Every Week
    • Every Month
    • When it's time for client renewals
  • Avoiding the biggest pitfalls with service board management
  • Building an Action Plan that works

Additional Topics include:

  • Welcome to the Service Department
  • After Hours Work
  • On Call and Night Staff
  • Managing Internal Administrative Tasks
  • Assign Techs or Rotate Them?
  • Approved Tools
  • Employees in The Tech Department
  • Technician Daily Time Management -- includes daily work flow
  • Time Tracking for Employees
  • The Tech on Call for The Day - Managing Daily Workflow
  • How to Maximize Billability of Technicians
  • Email Rules and Etiquette for the Consultant
  • Technician Supplies
  • Final Friday Training
  • Troubleshooting Guidelines
  • Troubleshooting and Repair Logs
  • Service Delivery Policies and Procedures
  • The First Client Visit
  • Guide to a Service Call
  • The Network Documentation Binder - NDB
  • Response Times - Guarantees and Delivery
  • Time Entry and Note Entry in Service Tickets
  • Information Sharing
  • Service Board Backlog Management
  • Daily Monitoring of Client Machines
  • Patch Management Philosophy and Procedures
  • Setting Up Alerts in Your PSA and RMM
  • New PC Checklists
  • Server Down Procedures
  • Third Party Tech Support - Documenting Calls
  • Third Party Tech Support - Rules of Engagement
  • Document Pouches
  • Service Focus: Monthly Maintenance
  • Why We Do Monthly Maintenance
  • Scheduling Monthly Maintenance and On Site Visits
  • Checklist for Major Scheduled Maintenance
  • The Monthly Maintenance Checklist
  • Monthly Single Checklist
  • Outsourcing (some) of Your Monthly Maintenance
  • Backup Monitoring, Testing, and Management
  • Disaster Recovery - An Overview

Delivered by Karl W. Palachuk, blogger and author of the very popular "SOP Friday" posts.

Includes five weeks of webinars with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor. All classes are recorded for download.

This course is intended for business owners and managers. It is particularly useful for the Service Manager or Operations Manager.

Only $299
Register Now

Check Out the #1 Best-Selling book on Managed Services ever!

Managed Services in A Month
by Karl W. Palachuk

3nd Edition - Newly Revised and Updated with TEN new chapters

Paperback - Ebook - Audio Book

The #1 best selling book on managed services ever!

It's never too late to jump into a maintenance-focused, flat-fee recurring revenue model.

Now includes information on making cloud services part of your managed service offering!

If you're new to IT consulting or ready to make the move from break/fix to managed services, this is the "cookbook" you need.

Click to view table of contents, sample chapter, and more.

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