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Managed storage services: Maximizing your data storage sales

Offering managed storage services provides you the opportunity to expand data storage service agreements and make additional storage sales.

Making the move from solution provider to managed storage services provider can be an easy step for an experienced channel professional. By establishing a good relationship during the initial contract and getting to know a customer, VARs can use their inside knowledge of a shop to offer other services that will help both their business and the customer's enterprise continue to grow.

Managed storage services generate revenue

It can be a relatively smooth transition from handling only a single service to offering a host of managed storage services. But channel professionals must be careful when approaching a customer and structuring the conversation.

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Benefits of providing managed services

"It's hard to address high-level issues from a low level," said Mike Jude, research director for Ptak and Noel Associates. "In order for VARs to offer credible managed and professional services, they need to show the service in question is useful to the whole business -- not just IT."

But once that credible relationship has been established, moving from a strictly solution-driven relationship to a professional services one may not be that difficult.

"Managed services are sort of like a Trojan horse," said Fred Bedard, president and COO of Wallingford, Conn.-based Regan Technologies. "A company that allows you to manage their storage, or other service, has already indicated a lot of trust."

Expanding managed storage services

"The best way to start expanding managed storage services with a company you're already contracted with is by asking 'What else are you guys doing?' Once they start talking with you about those areas, a smart VAR will mention that they've done that before. That they can do more with less and make the service more cost effective," said Bedard.

That experience can be parlayed into a conversation about business goals, which provides yet another opportunity to show value-added services channel professionals may bring to the table.

"Managed services are typically abstract and typically high margin. VARs can frame this as business efficiency and a revenue generator," said Jude.

One success will build on top of another until the channel professional begins to have a deep understanding of a company's business goals, which makes his services more valuable to the customer.

"The conversation will change from 'what do you need' to 'this is what you need,' then the conversation continues in business terms. Not many VARs can have those types of conversations, but the ones that can are successful. The evolving message VARs need to understand is that they need to understand their customers' business if they wa nt to get beyond the most basic levels of service," said Jude.

Hot technologies in managed storage services

One easy way for channel professionals to expand professional services within a company and gain more experience is by keeping their ears to the railroad tracks. VARs make a living staying on the bleeding edge of technology. Landing a professional services contract is no reason to stop.

"Right now data deduplication is a pretty hot topic. VARs can use those rumblings to continue to expand services. We can find out the company we work with has duplicate, triplicate data, we can offer to clean it out for them," said Bedard.

Have questions or comments? Email Brian Kraemer with your storage channel concerns.

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