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4 ESSENTIALS MSPS FORGET WHEN DISASTER RECOVERY TESTING

Mary McCoy

 

By Mary McCoy, Content Marketing Manager of Continuum Managed Services

 

 

By now, most MSPs recognize that offering backup is table stakes. Your clients can receive this service from any number of your competitors. In order to stand out and increase monthly recurring revenue (MRR), focus on the disaster recovery (DR) aspect of backup and disaster recovery (BDR). Offer your clients DR testing!
To fully capitalize on the advantages of DR testing, keep the following four best practices in mind when adding this service to your IT portfolio. 


1. Test Everything
Technology alone won't save businesses paralyzed by an IT emergency. DR testing should also engage on the business level, considering continuity of operations and processes along with the validation of actual data availability. How robust is your client's DR plan? Being properly prepared can be as simple as knowing who to call and having an up-to-date contact list. Your DR plan should also avoid ambiguity and set expectations when it comes to designating team and individual roles and responsibilities. Do both you and your clients know what to hold each other accountable for or who to reach out to when something goes wrong?
Pro tip: Your DR plans are not one-size-fits-all, which means your testing should vary across your client base. Each business you serve has different needs. Many organizations have specific compliance and regulatory statutes that they're required to adhere to. You may back up and store some clients' data at a physical location offsite and others' in the cloud. No two clients are alike. When DR testing, processes and procedures should be optimized for each individual client.

2. Test Regularly
How often should you be conducting disaster recovery tests? There is no hard and fast rule, and it really depends on the client in question. That being said, you should run annual DR tests, at the very least. Your clients' disaster readiness depends on every employee's understanding of the current DR plan, which they can ultimately only achieve after familiarization with the DR testing process. And when factoring in employee turnover, testing every year helps acclimate any new hires to the proper procedures and protocol, thereby helping you fine-tune your clients' disaster response. Considering that a company's DR strategy is only as strong as its least prepared employee, you'd think more would advocate frequent DR testing to mitigate risk. According to the 2016 Disaster Recovery as a Service Attitude and Adoption Report, however, 22 percent of respondents test their DR plans less than once a year or in many cases, never test at all. Help them avoid this liability and package regular DR tests into your overall BDR offering.
Sure, testing backups every year should be the standard, but even this may be too conservative in certain circumstances. Let's examine a scenario in which you may want to test more frequently. Perhaps you serve a bank or any other financial services business bound by PCI DSS compliance. To comply with regulatory standards, you may need to test this client's DR plan every three months to ensure your BDR solution meets the necessary requirements. In contrast, a barber shop's DR plan may only need to be tested two to three times per year. Again, when formulating DR plans, always make sure you optimize procedures and processes at the client level.


3. Document Outcomes
Strong DR documentation starts with a client's disaster recovery plan, which should outline everything anyone would need to know in the event of an emergency. This includes contact information, a detailed outline of the steps and procedures that individuals need to follow in order to activate a disaster recovery, expected time frames for recovering data and more.
Only when your response policy is put to the test, can you adequately assess the effectiveness of a DR plan. Maybe certain directions are unclear and create friction across teams. Document any and all outcomes during and after testing. What worked? What didn’t? Where were the failure points? Why did those failures occur? How do you address these in your client's plan? Were any employees or team leads unavailable? In the event that you can't reach these people in the future, who are their backups? Little details like this can mean everything when the clock is ticking and your clients' business continuity is at stake. To help ensure a more seamless DR response, record all results that may be used to improve your clients’ disaster readiness. Then, conduct a post-mortem with all involved, to review lessons learned and areas for improvement.

4. Update DR Plans
Finally, update your clients' DR plans as necessary. This testing is all for naught if you don't do anything with the data you record. It's not enough to simply remember what to do next time around. Recall the conversation around client employee churn. If your client onboards a new hire after your DR test, this employee will only have the existing DR documentation to follow. Rather than repeat the same mistakes in your next round of DR testing, correct now to save your clients later. And remember, disaster readiness is ongoing. Continue to frequently revisit and strengthen your DR plans so that testing runs smoother going forward.

Deliver robust backup data protection services to your clients. Learn how to provide effective business continuity as a service. Download our BDR eBook here!

Meet Mary! Mary McCoy is a Content Marketing Manager at Continuum, where she's worked for over two years. Mary primarily manages the MSP Blog and has consulted with hundreds of partners, lending website, blog and social media support. Before that, she graduated from the University of Virginia (Wahoowa!) with a BA in Economics and served as digital marketing intern for Citi Performing Arts Center (Citi Center), spearheading the nonprofit’s #GivingTuesday social media campaign. Like her school’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, Mary believes learning never ends. She considers herself a passionate, lifelong student of content creation and inbound marketing.

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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?
Examples: HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOX, HITECH

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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Survey Says: 60% of Cloud Users Recover Apps, Data 24 Hours Post Disaster

DR Infographic finalTwinStrata has released the the results of its 2013 Cloud Storage and Disaster Recovery survey. Conducted between May to August 2013, the report analyzes responses from 288 IT personnel. According to the survey, the results indicate widespread acceptance of cloud storage and demonstrate the tangible impact cloud storage can have on disaster recovery strategies.

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Guest Blog: Top Five Data Recovery Tips for SMBs

Chris.Bross.Headshot smallBy Chris Bross, Strategic Technology Alliance Manager, DriveSavers Data Recovery

As a small business owner, you have a million projects on your mind at any given moment, often leaving your data recovery plan at the bottom of the to-do list. In fact, a recent study by Symantec found that 57% of SMBs have no disaster recovery plan. Yet, SMBs experience an average of six outages a year, with the top reasons being cyberattacks, power failures, and natural disasters.

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