The reality of digital marketplaces for MSPs 
Chris Black - Digital Marketplaces for MSPs
January 25, 2023

Digital marketplaces for business-to-business transactions are currently experiencing a period of rapid growth. According to recent reports, digital marketplaces have accounted for 30% of all online global sales, and this is projected to reach $3.6 trillion by 2024, a significant increase from $680 billion in 2018.

In an episode of the Jolera Interview Series, IT analyst Jay McBain from Canalys discussed the trend of digital marketplaces. However, what is the reality for Managed Services Providers (MSPs) in this digital marketplace boom? We posed this question to Chris Black, the Chief Revenue Officer for Jolera.

According to Black, digital marketplaces such as Apple’s app store, and the ecosystem it has created, is the original digital marketplace. Still, there are other examples in IT, such as Telarus that bring different brands together to create a digital marketplace in hopes of bringing out scale for these vendors. However, for MSPs, digital marketplaces need to be separated from the real selling process.

“MSPs who are focused on delivering managed services solutions and are not selling hardware or software (or it’s just a subsidiary part of their business) must focus on service delivery and customer experiences that include service desk, SOC, or NOC. These MSPs are typically dealing with bespoke solutions designed for a specific customer. These are not turnkey solutions. There are turnkey elements to them, but it’s not a like a storage solution where you look at the amount of storage you need and the migration plan for moving it from A to B. Now, I know it’s not that simple but it’s a hell of a lot simpler than creating a managed service and form-fitting it to a specific customer need.” Black said. 

From Black’s perspective, digital marketplaces in the MSP community lack the discovery process of selling, which is an important part of any transaction in IT, especially when considering advanced solutions.

“They create these digital marketplaces, and they create an expose of your brand and your work but there are no transactions that go through it. One of the things I have learned in marketing and sales throughout my career is that customers still buy through people and in the boardroom. Marketing, digital marketing, and websites can still inform the buyer, but they still want to talk to a human being, face-to-face to share their challenges.” he added.

Black also emphasized the importance of the discovery process in finding the right solution for customers.

He said, “When it comes to bespoke IT solutions, there are just so many terms that collide with each other. Your version of a tier 1 service desk definition might be different than mine. How do I know that the digital marketplace’s tier 1 service desk is my definition of a tier 1 service desk? What’s included in that? The devil is in the details.”

He acknowledged that customers still prefer to interact with human beings and discuss their challenges face-to-face. He acknowledged that digital marketplaces have a place in IT, but they need to be clear, easy to understand, and based on velocity-type selling.

Watch the entire Jolera Interview Series on digital marketplaces to find out what Black has to say about the discovery process and how MSPs can take advantage of this sales method from experts such as Jim Keenan, a renowned source in the area and the author of Gap Selling.

In conclusion, digital marketplaces are booming and are projected to reach $3.6 trillion by 2024, but the reality is different for MSPs. They need to focus on service delivery and customer experiences rather than turnkey solutions and digital marketplaces. The discovery process is important in finding the right solution and customers still prefer to interact with human beings to discuss their challenges.

By Paolo Del Nibletto 

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