Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Squeaked in Before the Year is Over: MSPmentor 250 - The Top Folks in Managed Services

I am happy to announce that I've been selected for this year's MSPmentor 250 list. The announcement is here:


... and the official announcement is:

Welcome to the seventh-annual MSPmentor 250 list, honoring the world’s top managed services provider (MSP) executives, entrepreneurs and experts.

This list is based on our annual global survey plus MSPmentor's daily coverage of the managed services market. Thanks to survey participants. And a special thanks to MSPmentor's readers for your continued support.

Thank you to whoever nominated me. I appreciate your support. 

I'm perhaps the luckiest person I know because I get to travel the globe doing what I enjoy and reporting back to the community - and I get paid for it.

I encourage you to check out the whole list. See if you're on it. Then see if your friends are on it.

But more importantly, see if there's anyone on the list who's moving and shaking in our industry that you want to get to know. Look up their LinkedIn profile and connect. After all, connections are what makes a community!


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Third Tier To The Rescue

The last week was a little busy for me.

I started a new Managed Service business earlier this year, and I've been lining up some clients. That's all good.

EXCEPT you know how it is. You take over from someone who is being replaced because they haven't been quite up to spec for some time. Maybe they haven't been patching. Maybe they don't know what they're doing. Maybe they took a well-maintained network and turned it into a neglected network.

So here's the story of my week.

First, a "new" client who signed up with us six weeks ago suddenly had a problem with their Exchange server. We'll call him Client A. Because the problem was intermittent, we didn't start getting user complaints until mid-day Monday.

Apparently, an update over the weekend ran into a snag. As a result, I started looking at the server and realized that it needed a major Rollup update. I tried to install that and the installation failed with no error. I prepared myself for some extensive research and a potential call to Microsoft.

Research quickly revealed a few other minor issues.

To my mind, that eliminates Microsoft tech support from the equation. Because they will solve one problem at a time, this could take several calls. Plus, most of these problems were really minor, so not worth paying $499 each to fix.

Enter Client B.

Client B had signed a managed service agreement with us to start January 1st. But their old I.T. guy had someone managed to nuke their firewall and kill every service on the server. So they asked me to step in and set things upright.

I worked with Client B for a good part of Monday.

Tuesday: Jury Duty

In Sacramento County, you don't go in for jury duty unless them might actually need you. In the old system, you went downtown and sat around for days until they need you. With the new system, you check a web site at 5PM to see whether you need to report the next day.

Tuesday I had to report for jury duty. One client was half-up and the other one was half-down.

My part time tech is not the guy to assign to a crisis on an Exchange Server or a firewall.

I had just recorded an interview with Amy Babinchak about Third Tier's outsourced helpdesk services. (Listen to that over on SMB Community Podcast.)

So I decided to call for help. I went to www.ThirdTier.net and registered on their help desk. Then I put in a ticket. Soon, Mr. Philip Elder contacted me. Philip is the author of Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 Blueprint. He's also a Microsoft MVP for Clustering, and formerly an MVP for SBS.

I had Philip work on Client A while I worked on Client B and did my jury duty.

In just a few billable hours, the problem was taken care of AND I got a note about some configuration suggestions regarding the terminal server connected to the SBS network at Client A.

It was an extremely easy, smooth process. And very satisfying.

Obviously, this kind of urgent request cuts into my profitability with the client. But under the circumstances I feel like I was saved from a much longer, more frustrating week. And since all of that was the week before Christmas, I'm happy for the assistance at any price.

Note: To make something like this work as smoothly as possible, I posted up LOTS of information with my original service request. And I gave lots more details once Philip was assigned to the ticket. He had several pages of reading before jumping in, but I believe it was all useful to understand the nature of the problem, what had already been done, and where I thought we were stuck.

If I hadn't given him that background, he would still have been able to fix the server, but it would have taken longer as he discovered everything.

The bottom line: I'm glad I called on Third Tier to help me out when we were overloaded. I had a great experience, and I would use them again!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Third Tier Chat - December 17th - Three New Services and a Produtct

I just got a note from Amy over at Third Tier. It looks like they have an amazing "Chat" scheduled for next week. Click the "download" link to add the Lync link to your calendar.

Here's the memo from Amy: 
Third Tier
Introducing 3 new services and our first product!

You are invited to a preview during our Chat on December 17th 6pm eastern. Download to your calendar now!
Our Chat will introduce the following new items at Third Tier. In addition we'll cover our usual content about security and patching. Join us for this special sneak preview of...

Tech Your Books
You know your books are supposed to do more for you than just keep you out of trouble with the IRS right? They are supposed to be a powerful business tool that helps you be more profitable and provide information so you can make evidence backed decisions about your business. It’s time to Tech Your Books!
Look, A Whale!
What to you do when you’ve got a Whale? Be it a crisis or a project, your company could benefit greatly if you choose to have a third party representing your organization.
Our First Product: SBS
Ever since Microsoft ceased production of small business server saying that small businesses would prefer to be "in the cloud" IT providers have wondered where that leaves them. Well we have a solution for you - Be The Cloud!
Super Secret News
ASP members have been enjoying reading classified documents from US intelligence and security agencies giving them the early information on the latest hacks, industry targets and break-out infections. Learn about our after ASP plans to bring this information to you.

Our goal at Third Tier is provide IT Professionals with access to the resources they need to be successful. We've now got: SMBKitchen, Advanced Helpdesk, MicroStaffing, Tech Your Books, Look, A Whale and SBS. And a full dozen people to bring these services to your team. We're giving IT firms the tools they need!

Hope to see you at the chat!


Amy Babinchak

Monday, December 08, 2014

Join Our Webinar: Globalization of SMB

The world becoming very flat and very small. In other words, we're more connected than ever before. Things that seemed "exotic" twenty-five years ago are very common today. How does this affect the Small and Medium Business consultant?

This series addresses many aspects of the globalization of SMB, featuring guests who have experience working across borders, across oceans, and across lots of time zones.

Please register for our kick-off webinar on

Dec 30, 2014 
9:00 AM PST 



We're kicking off the webinar series Tuesday, December 30th with Harry Brelsford, founder of SMB Nation. Harry's been traveling the globe for more than a decade, connecting people and companies from every continent.

In addition to running a truly international business himself, Harry has partnered with Microsoft and other companies that have a global footprint. As the founder of SMB Nation, he's always tuned into effect of global business changes on the small I.T. companies out there.

Please join us for the introduction to this series.

It will be informative and fun!

- - - - -

One registration gets you into all twelve webinars for FREE.

This webinar meets 12 times.
Tue, Dec 30, 2014 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM PST
Tue, Jan 27, 2015 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM PST
Tue, Feb 24, 2015 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM PST
Tue, Mar 31, 2015 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM PDT
Tue, Apr 28, 2015 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM PDT
Tue, May 26, 2015 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM PDT
Tue, Jun 30, 2015 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM PDT
Tue, Jul 28, 2015 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM PDT
Tue, Aug 25, 2015 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM PDT
Tue, Sep 29, 2015 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM PDT
Tue, Oct 27, 2015 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM PDT
Tue, Nov 24, 2015 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM PST

Format Note: As you know, I love the interview format, so we're going to have a wide-ranging discussion for about 30 minutes, followed by Question and Answer period.

Sign up now and Join us on the last Tuesday of every month.


- karlp


Sunday, December 07, 2014

Free Lunch (for your brain)

Did you know that we have a LOT of free goodies over that SMB Books that are actually worth downloading?

Check it out. Here are some of the free downloads you can get at www.SMBBooks.com:

See all the freebies at http://www.smbbooks.com/Free-Stuff-s/1831.htm

Free Chapters from the book Publish Your First Book

Free Audio - Quick Start Guided Meditation

Free Chapter on Workaholism from Relax Focus Succeed

Free White Paper from Promotion Monkey on The Absolute Basics of Promotion

My "Famous" 68-Point Checklist - version 2.0 - Great for all MSPs! Download the 68-Point Checklist

Business Plan Worksheets - Great for laying out your plans for the New Year - Get started now

Relax Focus Succeed - 60 minute audio introduction - An Introduction to Relax Focus Succeed

Cloud Checklist - Are you (and your clients) ready for cloud services? A great place to start is my Cloud Readiness Checklist!

. . .  And more!

To get started, just go to www.smbbooks.com. On the left side you'll see a link that says Free Stuff (Really). Click that.

- - - - -

There is no obligation to download any or all of these resources. Please note: Be patient. With freebies, our checkout system requires us to manually click a box to send your download. So it might be a little while before one of us gets to the order page and clicks "send" to process your order.

Enjoy these resources . . . and send us any feedback you have.

- karlp


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Network Migration Workbook EOL: Now only $149.95 !!!

Super Monster Cyber Whatever Makes You Happy Sale!

The Network Migration Workbook is now officially

End of Life

Sale Price: $149.95

The Network Migration Workbook has been going strong since 2008. The Second Edition came out in 2012 and covers the last gasp of Small Business Server. This book is 530 pages PLUS you get access to all the content electronically, including a series of 200+ page checklists for performing Zero Downtime Migrations.

While we've sold the book around the SBS product, it's really a great guide to migrating ANY Windows server.

As you move clients off the last SBS servers and onto cloud services or stand-alone servers, you will save hundreds of hours with this book. Really. Find out LOTS more details here: www.networkmigrationworkbook.com.

Check out the Table of Contents. Also see a summary of each chapter at www.networkmigrationworkbook.com.

SBS End of Life and WAY Beyond

This book will be a resource you will use VERY heavily in the next year as you migrate clients off of SBS. Then you'll take the book apart and keep using the templates, checklists, and FORMS for the rest of your career. 

The extra documentation forms and checklists are worth the full price of $299.95 - really.

Now - until end of life - you get it all for just $149.95.

Is that one hour of labor for you or maybe two hours?

No matter what it is, it's a huge savings. 

Readers Love It . . .

“Karl Palachuk is a major thought leader in the world of IT services for small business. Now he and his brother Manuel have hit a grand slam with The Network Migration Workbook. If you do Windows Server migration projects, you owe it to yourself, your company, your staff, your clients, and even your family to get this book and implement the things you will learn.The Network Migration Workbook is incredibly comprehensive, and it includes everything you’ll need. It’s a tremendous resource and if it proves to be half as valuable to your company as it has been to us, you will be getting much more than your money’s worth.”
- Chris Boyle, President/CEO, MyITpros, Austin, TX

“And I realized that . . . for $249, Karl's book was going to save me that amount of hours and money as it would REMIND me of all the passwords, settings, configurations, and documentation that my own network is in dire need of myself.
Is it expensive in this day and age? I'm a cheap bean counter. Yes it's expensive. Can I justify the cost because I myself personally see where it's going to save me time, remind me of the settings, configurations, and all the other potential places where I need to document stuff needed for migrations in my own network? You betcha.
Which is why I bought it. As I can clearly see where it will save me time in planning (thus justifying the price tag).”
- Susan Bradley, SBS Diva, Microsoft MVP

"Awesome. Has to be the BEST investment I made in my business in the last 18 months.  Better still, updates get made available so I don't have to keep buying it."

- Rob Franklin, Technical Head of JPT Solutions, Nottingham, UK

Really . . . they do . . . 

Praise for the Network Migration Workbook

"Karl and Manuel have taken a very complex process and broken it down into comprehensive series of relatively simple tasks that most any competent technician should be able to follow. As the owner of the business, I can't tell you how valuable that is to me!

Read the entire book, cover to cover - Twice! Don't just skip to the checklists. Then proceed with confidence that you CAN complete the migration efficiently, effectively and most important, Profitably."

-Rick Bahl, Microsoft SBSC Advisory Board, Microsoft SBSC PAL

"The 2008 Migration Checklist has enabled us to deliver better projects by helping us better define deliverables, create more efficient workflow through the project, increase our project profitability and enhance the client satisfaction level. This is a step by step guide that will take you through every aspect of migration projects like defining the project scope, documenting deliverables, creating step by step processes to ensure your projects are a successful, assuring you're profitable and exceeding the client's expectations every time! This is a 'must have' guide for ANY technical service company"

-Kyle Elworthy, Network Essentials, Charlotte, NC

"Karl and Manuel have done an excellent job compiling their business and technical procedures into a series of checklists. The checklists are awesome. The beauty of this book though, is the fact that they also took the time to explain in great depth why things are done in the order they are done. The explanations found in the chapters that precede the actual checklists should be mandatory reading for anyone aspiring to build their own I.T. business and anyone employed in the industry."

-Philip Elder, MCTS, Microsoft SBS MVP Author: Small Business Server 2008 Blueprint

Network Migration Workbook Gimme

"This book is quite amazing. Someone telling you not only how to get it done technically, but providing the details of business rules and procedures that only come through blood, sweat and tears to make it all happen. Information normally never shared, especially with potential competitors! Karl and Manuel have spilled it all right down to quoting jobs and detailed checklists for a step by step approach in a typical network migration.

So if you are professionally involved in delivering small business IT solutions this book is a must have not only for benchmarking your own practices and performance but for some great detailed "how-to" technical information. The lists are right up-to-date for Microsoft SBS 2008as well as covering SBS2003. Great work and I hope these guys stay in business long enough to put out more books like this! Pays for itself on your next network migration."

- A. Frost

"Karl Palachuk has built his business around the idea that procedural approaches to delivering services will result in higher quality, and he's right. It's the eMyth at work, and this book is the result of that.

Karl provides for you the procedures. Every one of them. His entire process for performing migrations, ensuring you have every bit of detail you need to perform work as his team does. The level of detail provided here is extraordinary. I handed the book to my engineers, who were blown away by the ability to pick up the book and start working with it right away.

Consulting services like this are invaluable -- and Karl makes it available in a single, easy to use package.

Worth every penny."

- David P. Sobel, Microsoft MVP

"As anyone who has read the e-Myth books knows, the key to a successful business is standardization (that's how all the big retail franchises work). The key to standardization is documentation. Karl P. first gave the SMB IT consultant space the framework for that with his Network Documentation book a few years ago. The Network Migration Workbook not only includes updated forms from that book plus detailed information on how to plan and execute a profitable migration project conducted solely during business hours and with zero downtime to the customer's production environment.

Manual P. adds the technical information to make sure that the customer's network is always operational and that you always have a fail-safe way to roll back to the original configuration if there are any problems whatsoever. You should be able to recoup the price of this book easily in the first project in which you follow this book's checklists. If you religiously follow his 'Document Everything Every Time' mantra, you will instantly have a successful SMB IT consultancy."

- Roy Dodd, Quality Systems Solutions, Inc., Carpentersville, IL

Network Migration Workbook Gimme

"This is a great book. I ended up buying the migration book and the documentation book. The books lay it all out in a straight forward manner and make it easy to implement. I have my own small business consulting company and I have incorporated the network documentation in with my current document process to make it even better. Awsome! Thanks."

- Craig Ramsey, 404 Consulting

"Karl Palachuk is an author to watch in the SMB IT Consulting space. His previous books have helped our IT business, and this book... actually blew them all away. Chock full of practical advice from real-world experience along with pages and pages of rubber-meets-the-road checklists, this book has helped our business "McDonaldize" (think eMyth) our process of network migrations.

If you don't have a network migration strategy or would find value in comparing yours to the way a leader in this industry runs these types of projects, buy this book. It may look expensive, but it's really nothing compared to the value of our time and professional rates, and compared to the time it would take to assemble this kind of information.

Hats off to Karl, great job! Keep them coming!"

- Ben Ahlquist, ByteSmart Services, Wilmington, DE

"This book is a phenomenal resource for network migrations. Karl's writing is always crystal clear and concise. The material in this book has been laid out perfectly. Background information to understand the unique small business environment is ample. I've read Karl's blogs for some time and listened to him on his soapbox over and over again about CHECKLISTS. The checklists in this book are worth far more than the price of the book." 

- Steven Kleffman, Carmel, IN

Network Migration Workbook Gimme

"I bought one on pre-order, knowing from past KP books that it would be a winner. I must admit, I was scared to receive the $300/600 page monster. When I received it, I read it through almost cover to cover. I had so many questions, but also so many new insights to running network migrations. I ended up creating the workbook and, since I happened to have been working on a migration at that time, running them side-by-side (had no time to start over to do it "by the book".)

Got some great tips from the book, and know where I can tweak Karl's ideas to match how our organization works and have the process 100% documented in probably just a couple of hours if I just stat down and did it. I could confidently give this to a lower-level tech and sales person, let them run with it and expect minimal questions-many tasks are detailed down to the commands you would type in (which need slight tweaking of course for your particular site).

All in all, an excellent buy for anyone looking to document your migrations (you should be!) and to put some standardization to the process so less things slip through the cracks!

Keep 'em coming, Karl! (Oh, check out his Blog too)"

- By invisik "Small Business IT Buy", Minneapolis, MN

"Very happy with this book. At long last some easy-to-follow procedures for our little IT-shop. We have migrated our own network using the procedures in this book; we did a Win2000 server-based network migration; and we have installed a Terminal Server for a LOB package to integrate into an existing SBS2003 network.

We have chosen not to follow every single procedure to obtain a completely zero downtime migration / installation, as a little downtime is not very critical to our typical customers. But still the book is terrific, and if our customers were larger with a more complicated setup, we would certainly use the very thorough procedures.

Anyway I feel this book certainly has taken taken our professionalism to a higher level." 

- Erik Kristoffersen, Greenland

"Well what can I say.. Karl has done it again with the Network Migration Workbook.. and as the name suggests.. its a workbook. If you follow the book step by step you can have a very successful Network Migration.

All the forms and procedures are in this book and as a registered owner you can download all the electronic versions of them too.

If you want to learn how to do Migrations correctly the first time, then this is the book to get."

- Chris Timm, United Kingdom

"After purchasing/reading/listening to and using loads of Karl's previous work, the minute we received the email about pre-ordering for this workbook, I made the order. Not only did it have everything I expected from Karl, it had a whole lot more.

We had just finished a migration of 2 servers and 20 workstations the week before and we were hanging out for this book to arrive before then. Unfortunately for us it didn't arrive in Australia in time. The good part is as soon as it did arrive and we did a good look through, a lot of the procedures Karl uses are what we went through, so I know we are on track with most of our practises. The bad part is that there are thousands more little snippits of information that we could have used on this migration to save us some time, standardise the installation and DOCUMENT it much better.

We literally can't wait for our next migration so we can put the book to 100% good use. Even if you have an internal checklist for migrations and documentation, you cannot afford to NOT buy this workbook. I can't recommend it highly enough, the small amount of money will more than pay for itself on your next migration and will leave your customer much happier than if you didn't use the book."

- Nigel G. Moore, Sydney, Australia

Order Now and Save!


Monday, November 24, 2014

SMB Nation Announces Dates for Office 365 Tour in 2015

I got a memo from Jennifer Hallmark, President of SMB Nation. Looks likes they're having a big Office 365 Tour. It looks like they've got seven cities scheduled so far:

- Bellevue, WA - January 27th

- Silicon Valley, CA - January 29th

- Los Angeles, CA - February 26th

- New York, NY - March 17th

- Chicago, IL - April 16th

- Dallas, TX - April 30th

- Washington, DC - May 14th

Information and registration here: http://o365tour.smbnation.com/cities/ 

Here's the note from Jenny:

- - - - -

I have some exciting news that will help you take your business to the next level, and it won’t cost you a dime!

Did you know that Microsoft Office 365 is the fastest growing product in Microsoft history?  As you know technology trends continue to move quickly and it is hard to stay up to date.  Let us help you get the on the cutting edge of Office 365 by attending the Office 365 Tour.  The Office 365 Tour will give you the skills you need to make your business technology thrive.

Fine tune your skills with sessions like:
  • Line of Business Apps/Integration
  • Migration
  • SharePoint Online & OneDrive for Business 101
Join SMB Nation and your peers for a focused one day event on Office 365 in 2015.  Be sure to check out our event finder  for a city near you.  If you don’t see a city near you be sure to let us know you would like us to bring the show to you by requesting an event, located at the bottom of the event website, or reply to this email.

Your business deserves this,
and so do you.

See you on the road!
Jenny Hallmark
President of SMB Nation

- - - - -


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How to become the Perpetually Valuable MSP! - Webinar December 9th with Dave Sobel from MaxFocus

Please join us for a great - free - webinar with Dave Sobel from MAXfocus (formerly GFI):

December 9th
9:00 AM Pacific / 12:00 Noon Eastern

Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1856586219069987073
Webinar ID: 136-159-403

The Managed Services business model is full of promise for growing and established solution providers. With all the various choices for models, you chose to build a business that delivers proactive monitoring and management services for IT systems and resources used primarily in the SMB. As a principal characteristic, you are paid on a recurring contract basis to deliver services that could have previously been done by customer IT staff or other outside resources on a reactive time-and-materials basis. This sounds like a strong business strategy. Specifically, what are the advantages of a business based on proactive, recurring IT services – for you and for your customers – and are you capturing the full value of those advantages?

Even more critically, it also gets at the key question of whether a Managed Services model is a sustainable business with real value for customers and for operators over many years and multiple market cycles. Because markets change ... and new technologies emerge ... and your business must adapt. If you aren’t able to adapt your business at the speed of the market, you will inevitably fall behind and join ranks of other once-relevant IT channel business models.

In this webinar, Dave Sobel, Director of Partner Community, MAXfocus* will answer 3 important questions:

1. What are the meaningful advantages of a Managed Services business model that you need to take advantage of in order to optimize your performance today?

2. Which elements of a Managed Services business model are most likely to need a significant change in the next few years, and, how will the MSP value proposition need to evolve to stay relevant?

3. How can an MSP manage their business today, keep track of shifting market conditions and prepare to adapt, and manage the business through multiple change cycles without losing control of the business?

Not only will Dave explain all of the meaningful advantages but you’ll hear more about the MAX platform and how RemoteManagement is the system of choice for 11,000+ growing MSPs. Hear how you can brand the system as your own, then get a 360 view of customers’ networks including mobile devices, cloud services, servers or workstations. And, with all of the tools you need to deliver a managed security service you’ll soon benefit from patch management, Web Protection, Managed Antivirus, Backup and more. What’s more, hear how MAX integrated ServiceDesk tool allows you to focus on running your business, not your support team!

*GFI MAX is now MAXfocus.

Register today and get this on your calendar!


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Replace Your Sales Funnel with a Marketing Map

I'm sure you've heard of a "sales funnel." The basic idea is that you have a large mouth at the top of the funnel and your prospects enter there. With each stage of the funnel, a certain number of prospects get weeded out and the rest remain in your funnel.

The funnel starts out large at the top, but gets smaller and smaller until just a few people are left at the bottom: Your new clients. Over time, if you have a well-defined sales process, you should be able to generate some average statistics that give you a sense of what you can expect from your sales process.

Here's an example of the classic funnel:

In this case, you start by doing a mailing to 10,000 "stranger" prospects. Historically, 10% will open that mail. So now your funnel narrows to 1,000 prospects. If you have a 3% response rate, 30 of those people will respond to your mailing.

You will be able to "interview" and make proposals to one third of these, on average. That brings you to ten hot prospects. And if you close half of them, you'll have five new clients.

Let me start by saying that just about everything about the classic funnel view of marketing is accurate. If your marketing is always changing, the percentages will change over time. But if you HAVE a process and you FOLLOW your process, you will know how much effort and money it takes to get prospects through the funnel and get new clients.

When you hear people say "It's a numbers game," this is what they mean.

Strangers, Suspects, and Prospects

Notice also the labels attached to each stage of the process. The classic funnel takes "strangers" and introduces them to you company. Eventually, if they do what's expected and you do what's required, then a few of them become clients.

This is where the classic funnel begins to fall apart. I propose a different view of the world of marketing. It assumes that you are not always marketing to strangers.

In the classic funnel, the assumption was that you would start with people who had no connection to you at all. This would be a list your purchased, or a broadcast medium such as a newspaper or radio ad.

The classic funnel also assumes that you control the entire process of squeezing down strangers into suspects, prospects, and clients. But that is rarely the case today. Today we have to operate at many, many levels at once.

For example, you might have a social media campaign across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, your blog, your Pinterest, and you email list. You could easily have "connections" with 10,000 people across all those media. And with their connections, you might potentially touch another 100,000. The numbers get very big very fast.

... and they're not strangers.

In very practical terms, a classic funnel campaign might include these stages:

A) Mailing. Call to action is request a network checkup.

B) Get them to open the mailing. Might take three tries.

C) Prospects request checkup. Schedule the checkup. Schedule Follow up.

D) Present results . . . and a proposal for managed services.

E) Close the deal.

Steps "B" and "C" are very difficult here because these people really are strangers. In the classic model, these people have never heard of you or your company. The first introduction is a letter asking to engage in work. Yes, you're offering a freebie. But they know the goal is a sales meeting.

In the world of social media, you have many more friends and friends-of-friends to market to. AND it's much lower pressure. AND you might actually make some real friends in the process.

Introducing the Sales Map

Let's look at this process from a more modern point of view: The Sales Map.

With a sales map, you establish a path for prospects to follow, but you acknowledge that they might enter at any point in the process. It's also clear from the start that you don't control most of the process. So the funnel goes right out the door.

Think about a social media campaign. Someone might be connected to you Facebook and LinkedIn. You would like them to go to your blog and potentially check out your web site. On your web site you have lots of opportunities to request a network checkup.

Then you run a contest to get people to "like" your Facebook page. Maybe you give them a coupon or get them involved in local charity event that's unrelated to work. Once they are connected and engaged with you online, the likelihood of connected in other ways goes up.

The point is: You might like to control the order of the process, but you recognize that you can't. And you might even want to calculate some nice probabilities, but you can't. People engage - and disengage - as they see fit.

The best you can do is to be engaging!

In your perfect world, you might envision the following "funnel" activity:

A) Connect on LinkedIn.

B) Also connect on Facebook.

C) Like our Facebook page.

D) Join our contest: Therefore visit the blog.

E) At the blog, see an offer.

F) Go to the web page and fill out the form.

G) Schedule the checkup. Schedule Follow up.

H) Present results . . . and a proposal for managed services.

I) Close the deal.

BUT it's just as likely that folks started on your blog, connected on Twitter, wandered over to Facebook, connected on LinkedIn, joined your contest, and DIDN'T fill out the form.

But, at some point over the next few months, that new connection engaged at a higher level on Twitter (of FB or LI or whatever), and developed a generally positive impression of you and your business.

... And on the day they needed help with their network, you were top of mind! They might have filled out the form. Or they might have sent you an in-Mail or FB message. Whatever the case, they engaged you when they needed help.

This model is very messy and hard to control. But it's much more realistic.

The Challenge of the Sales Map

Your map won't have three or four stops on it. It will probably have fifteen or twenty. People can engage at any point in the process and engage at many different levels.

Your challenge consists of always pointing them to more and more engagement.  You might still have (you should still have) mailing campaigns. In addition to that, you will now have a never-ending "presence" on social media.

None of this is difficult. But it IS never-ending. You have to always keep promoting your business. That hasn't changed. HOW you promote your business and guide clients to engage with you has changed significantly.

What does your map look like?


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Saturday, November 01, 2014

Why We're Really Going to Australia: Business is Personal

Sometimes Business Isn't About Business

I have often said that all business is personal. All small business is personal. But so are large businesses.

We do business with people we know, like, and trust. And in the end, we gather about us friends from all over the place. Friends in our own company. Friends at vendors. Friends among our clients. Friends among our so-called competitors.

. . .

I have been meaning to go to Australia for many years. There's a huge I.T. community there and we sell lots of products in the Australian market. In fact, some products sell better there than in the U.S. or U.K.

I also have many friends from Australia. Most I met online first. And some I have met many, many times in person. I generally see Robert Crane and Wayne Small at least once a year, for example. I've shared many a meal (and many a beer) with my friends from down under. But it was always in the U.S. or U.K.

Now I get to see everyone on their home territory.

But why now? That's a very personal piece of the story.

Goodbye to Simon

Many of you have met or talked to Monica Caraway, the Marketing Manager at Small Biz Thoughts. Monica came to us in 2010. She and her son Simon had been living in Australia. She came to work for us full time. And Simon even did some work for us, manning the phones.

At that time, I owned two businesses (the MSP and the book business). We operated out of one office and shared several employees across both businesses. We were honestly a big group of friends. It was a very close group. We socialized together in addition to working together.

Sadly, Simon died almost two years ago, shortly after graduating from high school.

Monica tried various ways to figure out how to get Simon's ashes back to Australia so that his friends could say goodbye and she could spread his ashes in the land he loved so much. But she just couldn't figure out how to make it happen.

One day she asked me in frustration how she was going to get Simon back to Australia. And I said, "Let's make an excuse to get you there." So that's what we did.

We started planning dates and places and how to put on shows in Australia and New Zealand. It definitely IS a business trip. And it IS intended to make a profit. And we definitely ARE providing a great four-hour seminar in four different cities.

But the "why now" question comes down to a very personal reason. My friend Monica needed this to happen.

. . .

Having made that commitment, I'm grateful that we have good sign-ups down-under. We might even sell out the Sydney show!

If nothing else, I'll get to meet a lot of old friends I've only known online. And of course we'll make a bunch of new friends as well.

How Personal is Your Business?

I have worked very hard to make my life and my business completely consistent with one another. My business supports my life in its entirely, not just my lifestyle. I work very hard. But my life and work are thoroughly intertwined. I want to work with vendors I like, clients I like, and employees I like.

One of my friends in the I.T. business is always questioning whether I really don't answer my phone, have a 100% managed service business, and only work with people I like. One day he said to me: "You just make up your own world and then you go live there." 

Yes. We all do. If you make up a world where you have to work with jerks, you'll put up with that. If you make up a world where you are tied to your desk until ten o'clock at night, you'll make that reality come true. If you make up a world where clients don't have to treat your employees with respect, that's the world you'll be in.

You can build any business/life "balance" you want. I encourage you to do so with intention and not just let it emerge on its own. Mold your future or someone else will.

Sometimes we get caught up in the stereotypes of businesses. "Businesses" are evil. Or "businesses" don't care about people. One of the worst things I've heard this year is a new managed service provider who said that he doesn't need to get to know his new clients. After all, it's business. Guess what? Several of those clients have moved on. They don't know him. And he's made no effort to get to know them.

We should all acknowledge that the personal side of the business is not a weakness. In fact, building strong personal relationships - and friendships - within your business is one of the best things you can do. Personally, it will make your life better. Working with people you like makes everything easier. On the business side, it will strengthen your business. Even very large businesses make decisions based on who is good to work with and who is not.

Always remember that we deal with real people in business. Every person you meet has a story.

. . .

And if you're joining us in Australia, be sure to introduce yourself to Monica. She's like the sister I never had.


Friday, October 31, 2014

A Tribute to Harry Brelsford and SMB Nation

Happy Anniversay to SMB Nation - 15 years old today.

Over at the SMB Nation Blog, Harry's celebrating fifteen years.

As I've said many times, I believe Harry is the true founder of the SMB IT community. Fifteen years ago he wandered all over the U.S. meeting with people who had read his books and wanted to talk about their business - and about the newest version of Small Business Server. Many of the SBS User Groups grew out of Harry's efforts.

Harry's work with Microsoft on many projects brought them into the conversation at a much higher level than ever before. People at Microsoft grew to know more and more people in the SMB community. And more of us grew to know people within Microsoft.

As for other vendors, Harry's SMB Nation conferences have introduced thousands of small I.T. providers to a wide variety of vendors for the last twelve years.

Since SMB Nation's first conference, many other organizations are now holding annual events. On one hand this is a little sad because the community has been divided up into pieces. On the other hand, this is a sign of a strong and growing community, with many specialized interests.

I was grateful to see a large increase in attendance at the most recent SMB Nation Fall conference - due in large part to the focus on Office 365 and hybrid cloud. And Harry's 12th Fall event coincided with our own 10th annual pre-day event.

And of course I will be eternally grateful to Harry for helping me to promote my first book, and for involving me in many projects and speaking engagements over the years.

In the last few years I got the opportunity to work with Jennifer Hallmark and "Team Jenny" at SMB Nation events. Harry really has put together an amazing organization.

Congratulations to SMB Nation. I look forward to the next fifteen years!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Forget About Replacing SBS - Move to the Next Generation Instead

I've been addressing the demise of SBS (Small Business Server) for about six years now. In 2008, my brother Manuel and I put on a major training event on the topic of "Zero Downtime Migration" of SBS. Immediately after that, we started retooling our business for a world without SBS.

I was pleased when SBS 2011 came out. I was grateful that we had one more shot at the market. My brother and I came out with a revision of our Network Migration Workbook. And immediately, Microsoft nuked the product and lured the world over to Server 2012 Essentials.

During my SMB Preday shows for 2009-2913, I spent a LOT of time on alternatives SBS. Let me be very clear about that: Alternatives to . . . Not replacements for SBS.

Think about it this way: If you start by saying that you want to replace SBS, you will look for a solution that looks like SBS. That has some obvious coolness.

- One server with
- Exchange onsite
- File Storage onsite
- SQL onsite
- SharePoint onsite
- Active Directory onsite
- Backup onsite
- Centralized control of remote acess
- Embedded monitoring and reporting

Now. Please come to a full stop.

If you were to create the ultimate small business technology environment today, what would it look like? For me, it's no longer SBS.

It's more like . . .

- A small server onsite
- Exchange hosted in the cloud
- Local file storage
- Backed up to the cloud
- SQL either onsite or in the cloud, depending on which is most appropriate
- SharePoint either onsite or in the cloud, depending on which is most appropriate
- Active Directory onsite
- Remote access managed locally or in the cloud, as appropriate
- Monitoring and Reporting via top-quality Remote Monitoring and Management tool

The bottom line is that you need to right-size your solution. You need to put the email where it belongs. And the storage where it belongs. And the SQL where it belongs. And so forth.

Introducing the Zynstra Cloud Appliance

For several months I've been working with a British company called Zynstra with regard to their partner advisory panel. Zynstra has developed a great substitute for SBS. Not a replacement. A 21st Century substitute.

On Thursday (October 30), Harry Brelsford from SMB Nation presents the third webinar in his series on replacing SBS. His guest will be Rhett Ryder from Zynstra and Daniel Langton from TelcoMSP.

Join this webinar to find out about . . .
- Migrating customers from SBS/WS2003 to on-premises Hybrid Cloud IT as a service
- Using Office365 discussions to migrate to a Hybrid Cloud IT solution
- Meeting this challenge and much more with the Zynstra solution
- The TelcoMSP advantages and increasing your enterprise value

Zynstra's Cloud Appliance was the absolute hit of SMB Nation. Find out why. Sign up at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/991216729

This is my favorite new solution to sell where we used to sell SBS. Check it out Thursday.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

The ASCII Group Awards Datto the Coveted ASCII Cup 2014

Got a note over the transom from my friends at ASCII . . .

Congratulations to Datto, GFI Max, and all the winners!!!

- - - - -

Bethesda, Maryland - October 24, 2014 -- The ASCII Group, a membership-based community of independent MSPs, VARs and Solution Providers, is pleased to announce the winners for its annual ASCII Cup, where awards are given for the ASCII Cup winner, Top Contenders and Esteemed Noble Partners.  The awards are presented each fall to technology companies that have showcased channel goodwill and a commitment to helping ASCII members grow their businesses more efficiently.  Winners are voted upon by ASCII members at regional events, and the Cup and awards were presented at the ASCII Success Summit on October 23, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The humble beginnings of the ASCII Cup are unknown; some say it was discovered after packing up the last box of the final Comdex show, while others think it was discovered in the secret tunnels under a certain campus in Redmond.  Some even believe it has been handed down by the Knights Templar.  Regardless of its origins, the ASCII Cup has power.  As the legend goes, for those who are bestowed to guard it, they will prosper from its keeping.  For those who drink from it, they will flourish from its power.

ASCII Success Summit attendees vote for the vendors in 11 different categories: Best Software Solution; Best Hardware Solution; Best New Product; Best Cloud Solution; Best Revenue Generator; Best Channel Incentive; Best Channel Program; Best Partner Commitment; Best Customer Support; Best Distribution Sales Support; and Best in Show. The winners at each show are selected based on the votes by the solution providers; at the end of the year the winner of the ASCII Cup is determined from the results of all the shows.  The 2014 winners of The ASCII Cup, Top Contenders and Esteemed Noble Partners were announced at a private industry gathering at Dusk Night Club.

The ASCII Group is pleased to honor the recipients of this year's ASCII Cup, for they exemplify the principles on which the Cup was established.

The 2014 ASCII Cup Vendor of the Year is Datto.

Knighted as the Top Four Contenders for The ASCII Cup are GFI MAX, HP, Lenovo and LogMeIn.

Knighted as The Distributor of the Year was D & H for getting the most votes throughout the year in this category.

Recognized as Esteemed Noble Partners are AVG, HIPAA Secure Now, JetStream Networks, RapidFire Tools, and StorageCraft.

"The ASCII Group and its community wholeheartedly congratulate Datto as this year's ASCII Cup recipient.  We would also like to recognize the Top Contenders, Esteemed Noble Partners, and all of the companies featured at our Success Summits, for remaining committed to delivering value and significance to the channel," said Jerry Koutavas, President, The ASCII Group, Inc.

Photos and video of the celebration will be made available on The ASCII Group and The ASCII Cup Facebook pages.

For more information, please visit www.ascii.com.
GFI Max team honored by Best Revenue Generator

About The ASCII Group, Inc:

The ASCII Group is a vibrant reseller community of independent MSPs, VARs, and other solution providers.  Formed in 1984, ASCII has more than 70 programs that provide turnkey cost-cutting strategies, innovative business building programs, and extensive peer interaction.  ASCII members enjoy benefits such as marketing support; educational information; group purchasing power; increased leverage in the marketplace; and multiple networking opportunities. These programs enable ASCII members to increase revenue, lower operating costs, and grow service opportunities.  You can learn more at www.ascii.com or by calling 800-394-2724.