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SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

10 Discovery Questions to Ask When Selling BDR

Ben Austin, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Continuum Managed Services


Are you looking to capture additional monthly recurring revenue (MRR) by selling your backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution to more clients? If so, you have to understand the overall sales process and particularly, the Discovery phase, which is meant to help you identify the best Ben Austincandidates for your BDR solution.

To identify those small-and-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with the highest probability of adopting your solution, begin by getting to know them. Uncover their needs by asking the following 10 questions.

Gather Preliminary Information

This first set of questions helps you establish a baseline regarding data management needs. Before you can begin qualifying, you need to know what kind of IT environment you're working with. Are there any constraints? What's the SMB's attitude toward BDR solutions, and do they have a history of backing up data?
1. What type of customer records are you storing?
Examples: sales receipts/billing, contact information, private/confidential records

2. How are you currently storing that data?
Examples: physical copies, local laptop/desktop, local server, off-site storage

3. What regulations do you need to comply with?

4. What additional, non-customer related data are you storing on your machines?
Examples: proprietary information/documentation, marketing materials, primary research, competitive data, vendor contracts

Gauge Their Disaster Readiness

At this point in the sales conversation, you should begin asking questions to qualify the prospect. Getting the right answers is all about asking the right questions. What are the right answers? The ones that indicate whether or not the prospect is the right fit for your IT services. You want to weed out any unhealthy candidates that may stall your sales cycle or be "noisy," unprofitable clients down the line. To do this, evaluate their level of disaster preparedness by asking questions that identify whether the prospect needs a business continuity solution. Often, these questions are ones prospects haven't even thought to ask and trigger that "aha!" moment you're looking for in order to close them into clients later.

5. What problems have you faced in the past related to data loss or corruption?
Asking this question gives you historical context that can help you judge a prospect's disaster readiness. It introduces any problems you may be walking into if you sign the client, and helps you later cater your sales pitch or presentation toward real-life scenarios that the prospect can relate to.

6. What percentage of your standard business operations would be impacted if your records/data were temporarily unavailable or deleted?
Asking hypothetical questions like this is a useful MSP sales tactic! By asking this question, you should hope to have your prospect recognize the value of their data. At the same time, the answer they provide can help you judge whether the SMB has a need you can fill and is therefore worth pursuing.

7. How long could you keep your business running without access to your data?
Again, the benefit here is twofold. You get the qualifying answer in discovering if the SMB will benefit from your solution. And at the same time, you gain an opportunity to explain the typical, severe repercussions of prolonged downtime after a disaster.

8. What is your current plan for protecting the integrity and security of your data?
Like the previous sales discovery question, this one helps you position your value proposition as your clients' virtual CIO (vCIO). More often than not, the SMBs you talk to won't have any kind of business continuity plan or disaster response procedure in place. They don't have the time or in-house expertise to compile and manage such a framework. This is where you can really shine as their advisor. If the prospect has no business continuity plan, you can explain the reasons for developing one, walking them through the initial steps of creating and testing it. If the prospect has already implemented a disaster recovery (DR) plan, listen as they provide the details. Don't discount prospects that claim they already have a DR plan. They may be mistaken, it may not be in use or it may require significant improvement that you can provide as their vCIO.

9. What are your top priorities as far as data backup and disaster recovery is concerned?
This is a general catch-all to help you understand a prospect’s general mindset about the value of BDR and what they think you can provide. It's also a more direct question that can help you determine whether a prospect has benefited from having a BDR solution in the past. Perhaps in expressing their priorities, the prospect expresses dissatisfaction with a competitive service. This not only gives you a leg up, but helps you tailor your proposal and eventual onboarding process to best serve the SMB.
Steer The Conversation Back Toward Purchase Intent

The best way to do this is to first ask the prospect what their previous purchases were and what the return was. Notice the subtle difference between asking "Are you interested in buying from me?" and this last, better question:
10. What investments have you made in hardware/storage over the last four to five years?
If the prospect has made recent investments in hardware or physical storage, this should signal to you that they likely understand the value of data integrity/security and are willing to make investments (such as cloud storage) to ensure that their data is safe. If they have not made recent investments in this area, the SMB likely needs your BDR services. Now, while this is also a favorable outcome, understand that they may need more convincing to see the overall value of your business continuity services. As a result, your sales cycle may be extended.

When selling BDR, you have to get to know the prospect and their business needs first. Modern, client-centric sales involves talking with, NOT talking at, SMBs. The ten discovery questions shared in this post should help you start that dialogue, pinpoint worthwhile, high-close prospects and move them further along through the MSP sales journey. Once you know who to target your sales presentation and proposal to, you'll have all of the necessary information to personalize your offering to their individual needs.

Are you looking to boost your BDR sales efforts? Continuum's new Business Continuity Sales Success Kit provides ample resources that can be completely customized to best suit your business, as well as actionable, informative and educational content—such as scripts, talk tracks and more—to train new sales team members about the unique benefits and sales propositions inherent to backup and disaster recovery platforms. While it may be used with any BDR sales, this kit is designed to be used seamlessly with Continuity247™, Continuum’s fully-managed backup and disaster recovery platform. Download the Business Continuity Sales Success Kit here!

The preceding blog post was originally published on Continuum’s MSP Blog.

Ben Austin is the Sr. Product Marketing Manager for Continuum’s backup and disaster recovery products. He has experience in high-velocity content marketing and demand generation. He graduated with a degree in journalism from Emerson College and has spent his career researching and writing about the B2B tech industry.

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The Benefits of Working with a BDR Provider That Owns Its Backup Technology

Headshot Ben AustinBen Austin, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Continuum Managed Services

Managed services providers (MSPs) are trusted advisors to their clients. By acting as virtual CIO (VCIO), safeguarding the health of IT environments and maximizing the ROI of their clients’ IT budgets, MSPs are responsible for increasing the business efficiency and profitability of the organizations they serve. This relationship is often started with the implied trust of a customer that their MSP will deliver as promised in the sales cycle. Then, as time rolls by, that trust becomes more tangible based on the actual experience with their MSP.

As this trust grows so does the responsibility of the MSP. One area that MSPs ultimately have significant influence over is the handling and protection of one of their client’s greatest business assets: their data. This trust is at its apex in the delivery of completely reliable and modern backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solutions.

For your end-clients, BDR solutions are similar to umpires in a baseball game. If you never find yourself talking about them then everything is probably going smoothly. It’s when data loss or excessive downtime occurs that clients lose faith in the credibility of your business continuity offering.

With so much at stake, it’s vital that MSPs minimize any concerns with their business continuity offering by investing in the right BDR platform. So how do you know which solution is right for you? One easily identifiable and often overlooked approach is to work with an IT management platform provider that owns its BDR technology and handles service delivery of the product from top to bottom. Let’s examine a few of the reasons why this particular service is one that MSPs want to be as close to the source as possible.

  1. The MSP can influence product changes – When a managed services provider works with a business partner that has complete ownership over its BDR technology, the MSP can request additional features and functionality that will make them more productive and strengthen their overall offering. If the BDR solution used by an MSP is several touches away from them, they likely won’t have much influence in changes that improve the BDR software’s performance. The MSP could even miss out on the chance to test new product developments before they are implemented. While some might think it risky to be the first to try something new in a product offering, it can actually serve as a competitive advantage. Working directly with the owner of the BDR technology is a great opportunity to bring something to end users before anyone else, thus possibly providing a first-mover advantage.
  2.  MSPs can have an elevated level of trust in their BDR partner – Having that level of involvement in influencing product roadmap and other important aspects of a BDR offering can create a real trust between the MSP and their provider. MSPs strive to earn the trust of their clients. Part of that comes from having trust in the technology partners and vendors that sit behind them as they go to market. Having some skin in the game with regard to impacting product development is a great opportunity for an MSP to deliver BDR solutions to their clients with the utmost confidence.Having some input in the product roadmap and maintaining business interests that align with those of your BDR partner certainly signal a relationship that’s built to last, but what directly impacts your business’ bottom line? How can working with a BDR provider that owns all of its backup technology help grow margins?
  3. Independent platform pricing protects the MSP’s margins– With no middle man markup, the MSP avoids price ceilings that can result when subject to third-party technology. In purchasing a BDR platform subscription from an independent provider, they can protect their margins by increasing gross profitability. Profit is inversely related to cost. The higher the expenditure, the lower your bottom line. Instead of having to pay extra for support once removed, work with a BDR partner that owns its solution, thereby allowing you to cut costs. By the same token, to further increase profitability, look for BDR software and service delivery that helps you maintain financial stability by maximizing revenue.
  4.  Having support closer to the end client raises customer satisfaction – Typically, the closer support is to the end-client, the more efficient the response and issue resolution. In the instance where a BDR platform provider owns and develops its entire BDR solution, any support calls that are taken are handled right then and there. Additionally, expect support staff to manage issues and answer questions in a timelier manner. These technicians will likely be more knowledgeable of the BDR product (and therefore understand its intricacies) if the solution is owned in-house. Increased familiarity with the backup technology and all its ins and outs ensures a higher degree of service delivery because the MSP (and end client, by extension) doesn’t have to wait for a third-party vendor to deduce why the BDR software may be acting in a certain way. The less turnaround time to fulfill a client request, the better the client experience overall.

These latter two points help MSPs create loyal fans, increase client retention and capture more upsell and cross-sell revenue, without incurring the costs of losing business. As a result, independent BDR platforms enable MSPs that are offering business continuity services to be more profitable.

Become a Major BDR Player with Continuity247™

Fully-managed BDR platform, Continuity247, is owned and operated entirely by Continuum, allowing the company to deliver the peace of mind provided by each of the four points outlined above. Continuum is committed to ensuring its partners receive unparalleled support and regularly make refinements and improvements based on partner feedback. With this shared ownership, trust is at the core of its business model. You can always count on Continuum to have your back. Nowhere is this more evident than with the level of BDR service that partners receive from its world-class Network Operations Center (NOC).

For example, with Continuity247™, Continuum’s team of 700 NOC technicians provides partners 24x7x365 backup support. In addition to absorbing time-consuming, labor-intensive responsibilities like testing and monitoring backups so MSPs don’t have to, support staff is intimately familiar with the BDR technology, understands its DNA and is able to more quickly troubleshoot its behavior. To strengthen technical support for Continuity247, Continuum also combines deep product education with regular internal training to reinforce the BDR service delivery on partners’ behalves. Continuum is the final line of support, which means the company can answer any product-related inquiries internally, rather than having to rely on a third-party to respond. Finally, Continuity247 was built with partners’ profit margins in mind. Since they’re not constrained to the pricing of a third-party vendor, partners can yield a higher profit by selling their business continuity services at a much higher rate than what they purchased them for.

Whether you’re thinking about switching providers or just getting into the BDR market for the first time, you have to vet what you are actually getting in a BDR solution vs. just simply the shopping price.

Do you know if your current BDR provider owns all of their backup technology? If not, you may want to start asking questions regarding their BDR offering to ensure you are getting the most value for your spend. Only after examining solutions under this lens can you accurately compare BDR platforms and make an informed purchasing decision.

Ben Austin is the Sr. Product Marketing Manager for Continuum’s backup and disaster recovery products. He has experience in high-velocity content marketing and demand generation. He graduated with a degree in journalism from Emerson College and has spent his career researching and writing about the B2B tech industry.

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