Why ‘sell with’ is the new ‘sell through’ for MSPs: a report from 451 Research’s HCTS event

Caroline Paine, Cloud Evangelist, OnApp

Caroline Paine
Service Provider Sales Director, OnApp

Recently we attended the Hosting and Cloud Transformation Summit, hosted by 451 Research. The event was an eye opener for the Managed Service Provider (MSP) market. What to sell, what the struggles are, what’s next and how to plan for that.

We took part in an interesting panel that gave us the opportunity to discover some ideas that could positively impact MSPs go-to-market planning. Presented and hosted by Rory Duncan, Research Director for Managed Services & Hosting at 451 Research, I was a panel member alongside HPE’s Xavier Poisson Gouyou Beauchamps, and Dan Havens from Ormuco.


High-Value Partnering – Why ‘Sell With’ is the new ‘Sell Through’

The session focused on how ‘Sell With’ can better address the ecosystem needs of MSP clients. We explored how vital it is to form relationships that address the business requirement – and how the long-term view must be thoroughly considered by both end client, MSP and vendor. You’ll see why in more detail below. Slide images here are the copyright of 451 Research and used with permission. Thanks guys!

What is ‘Sell With’?

‘Sell With’ applies to distributors, value-added resellers, ISVs, system integrators and MSPs alike. A ‘Sell With’ approach means finding partners with the right products. Don’t go searching for a product and hope the vendor will be strategically aligned, or have any wish to be. It doesn’t always work that way.

MSPs need to talk with their vendors so they understand what the end client needs and how best they can help solve that need. This might mean multiple vendors providing parts of the solution. We’ve often found that MSPs who try to go it alone, or try to find one vendor to solve all client needs, wastes time, effort, resources, money and – more importantly – the attention and trust of the end client.

Game changing strategies

And the end result of doing this? “Monetize cloud services by addressing business requirements,” says 451 Research. They provided some excellent ‘Strategies to Consider’ as part of the session. These could be adopted by many MSPs to help drive new revenue streams as well as adding value to existing clients. ‘Sell With’ goes both ways – it’s never too late to ask your clients for feedback.

Of these strategies, I’d like to explore my top two in a bit more detail.

1. Develop solutions but avoid dependencies

Recommendations included:

  • Finding vendors/partners with ”best of breed” offerings, something that can be taken to market quickly.
  • Aligning business goals means being open with your vendors/partners. What do you need on day 1, and what you’ll need by day 30, day 120 and even day 365 (if you have the foresight). If you’re unsure if your vendors/partners can help you: ask! The more collaboration the better the result. So often we have conversations with clients about features inside OnApp that provide an ‘aha’ moment.
  • Explore regional & local markets. This was an interesting one… so many times we hear “..the only way to compete is to go global…”  but how often do we see regional MSPs achieve that? So, don’t miss out on local opportunities because you’re hoping to offer something that only a handful of clients might buy. Be the best artisan MSP in your region.

2. Balance commercial & non-commercial relationships

Listen up MSPs – don’t put all your eggs in one basket! The image below says it all:

Have a mixture of client needs and offer solutions that match. Ensure your team are fully trained to talk with and support these different needs.



Finally 451 Research provided 3 excellent takeaways that round things off nicely:


HCTS 2017 was a great event – can’t wait for 2018! If you’d like to learn more about the way we ‘sell with’ MSPs here at OnApp, check out our cloud and CDN solutions for MSPs or get in touch. Thanks!