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Can MSPs and Integrators Sell Any Software?
You might consider selling software to be outside your wheelhouse. But if reselling software creates a profit margin & it expands your toolset, why not?
You may think that whether you decide to sell certain software might be tied to if you have chosen to pursue a vertical. If you are vertical-focused, then it is natural to lean toward that vertical’s industry standard software packages.
Medical specialty MSPs and integrators will have a lot of contact with electronic medical records and billing systems. If your firm caters to CPAs, tax and accounting packages will be the norm. But the “should we/shouldn’t we” analysis doesn’t end there.
Most firms that specialize in a certain vertical do not have a client base consisting of one hundred percent clients in that industry.
You may have out of scope clients that were grandfathered in from before you decided to go vertical, or you might have brought them on because you were friends with the business owner.
There will also be clients who need software that is not industry-specific; construction companies might need video editing software for marketing efforts.
Regardless, it is likely that you have clients with software needs beyond your primary focus. If you find yourself in this situation, keep an open mind and keep reading.
If your company is not vertical-centric, then you certainly know what it means to have clients in a dozen different industries, all with separate needs. You might be thinking there is no way to be an expert in everything and you may want to pick and choose what you decide to resell.
But here is the question you need to consider – if reselling software creates a profit margin and it expands your toolset, why would you not want to sell it?
Selling vs. Supporting
When a company worries about selling software, often the lack of commitment comes from a lack of familiarity. “We won’t be able to support it,” or “We’ve never installed that or configured it before,” may be some of the phrases used. But there are a few points to keep in mind.
There is a difference between selling and supporting. Most major software packages either come with support or support is an option. Occasionally the first year of support is a requirement. When your engineers install the software, they will have a team of experts they can leverage.
Your team does not have to be well-versed in the application in order to install it and hand it over to the client.
If a client is asking for a specific software package, it’s probably because they’ve been in the industry for a while, they know about it, and either they know how to use it or they have used an alternative and are ready to make a switch for additional functionality, better pricing, or another reason they have vetted.
This means they will probably know more about using it than you.
In most cases, the client isn’t expecting you to be able to answer every question. If they have usage questions, they are more than likely going to contact the software support team rather than ask you.
When a client asks if they can get software through you and have you install it, it is usually for two main reasons: they are used to purchasing through you and enjoy the experience, and they know the installation wizard will ask them questions they have no idea how to answer.
They are not asking you to sell them licenses because they think you are an expert at using construction estimating software.
Of course, there is value in becoming more familiar with industry standard software. This does not mean becoming familiar as a user, but with the general options of the software.
Is it offered as a hosted solution, on-premise installation, or both? What modules come with the initial purchase and which ones are optional? Is it licensed per user, per account, per instance? Perpetual or subscription?
When you first start selling the software, you won’t need to know this in the beginning, but as you gain familiarity, when you speak to prospects and ask them specific questions about the software they use and mention specific modules or license types, prospects will take notice and that will help them feel comfortable in the fact that you understand their business.
The best way for you to become more familiar with these products is to sell them and implement them.
As you approach these opportunities, keep in mind you do not need to bear all the responsibility on your shoulders alone. The more you become involved, the more valuable you are to your clients and prospects.
Partner or Reseller Opportunities
Another thing to consider is the partnership opportunity. When it comes to you deciding if you will resell a certain software to your clients, this will really be the differentiator because the truth is, maybe you don’t want to sell every possible software.
Some software manufacturers don’t have a reseller program, and others have one but with very small margins. In those instances, it may not be worth reselling.
If the time it takes to look up the current pricing, create a quote, send it to the approver, follow up, and process the order will cost you more than the margin you make off the sale, you might want to have your client purchase direct.
Of course, the opposite side of the coin is, it might be worth it to you to give a little in order to maintain a high level of client happiness and keep the client in a habit of coming to you for purchases rather than training them to purchase direct. But that is a decision you will have to make for yourself.
For software manufacturers that do have partner programs, you definitely need to look into that because it’s possible that doing something as simple as filling out a form could save you fifteen percent or more as compared to purchasing through a distributor without being a registered partner.
Therefore, do your homework because it could make a significant difference not just for your current purchase, but future purchases as well.
In summary, don’t be afraid to sell software that might be new to you. Decide where the value fulcrum lies for you and investigate partner opportunities to help you decide what software you will be willing to sell to your clients.
About the Author: Scott Ford is the director of operations at Pronesis Technology Group.
Reprinted with permission, courtesy Commercial Integrator