April 16, 2021

How MSPs Can Help Clients Understand the Cloud

By Sarah Hebert

A coworker sent me a link a few weeks back to a great comedy skit about “the cloud”. It is hilarious, but as I watched it, I thought two things: 

  1. Before I came to work at Datto, I had never really thought deeply about what “the cloud” is. Surely this understanding is the foundation of buying into the move to the cloud that has exponential adoption these days.
  2. When I ask my family or friends who do not work in the technology industry, “what do you think the cloud is?” the answers I get are nearly as amusing as the skit but are equally as scary. 

This isn’t a blog post to teach you what the cloud is. As a managed service provider (MSP), you know and understand the cloud better than most. You’re also well versed as to why the shift to the cloud is happening in the first place.

  • Controlling costs
  • Only paying for what you need
  • Scalability
  • Automated updates
  • Cybersecurity
  • Reliability
  • Accessibility

This is a blog about the benefits of helping your small and medium business (SMB) clients understand the cloud.

Migrating existing clients to the cloud

When you are speaking to an existing customer who has outdated infrastructure, the points above are likely what you touch on. How can you clear up physical space for them? Remove old hardware from their offices? Ensure data is accessible everywhere, and that the technology and security are updated as often as possible? These are all possible reasons why your existing clients are interested in migrating to the cloud from an on-premise solution.

Your clients are likely concerned with the costs of cloud migration, so you have to show them the monetary value over time, even if the cost of the new tool and your support becomes licensed on a per-user basis rather than more traditional upfront investments. Part of your conversations may also center around replication and redundancies while still minimizing on-premises infrastructure. Two copies in the cloud? Sounds even more extravagant. 

Onboarding new clients to the cloud

Equally, your conversations with new customers are probably similar but perhaps even less in-depth. You can explain your packages to them, which include various cloud-based services, and if they choose to onboard with you then they’ve bought into “the cloud” already. In building new relationships, the cloud is a foundational aspect of the relationship between MSP and SMB clients.

But how often do you start either of those conversations by asking your customer the same question that I’ve been surveying people with: “Do you know what the cloud is?”

These days, it’s a term that has lost its weight as a result of overuse. Your clients may not be educated on the fact that the cloud is not infallible. At Datto, we often see this with end users who don’t realize that their SharePoint or Drive data isn’t backed up forever and safe from ransomware or malicious or accidental deletion. 

Why MSPs should help their clients comprehend ‘cloud’

MSPs must educate their clients on the cloud and fit this into the standard onboarding process for new clients. This allows for a better understanding of the value of services that you provide and will solidify trust in your recommendations of services. It can also help make an add-on or upselling of services at a future date simpler when you have already covered the core cloud concepts but a new risk has been identified. 

It also gives you a better platform to be able to explain limitations to your customers. This means that should a problem arise, the customer’s expectations are better managed. If a customer does not realize that they need an additional layer of protection until a disaster scenario and you haven’t clearly articulated that this was a limitation of the service plan they were on, then your relationship may be strained while navigating through the challenge. 

When you educate your clients about the cloud, different strategies may be required for different types of clients. In most cases though, the value is best conveyed by focusing on the high-level explanation about the cloud, and then identifying why the information is important and what impact it could have on their business. 

Outline your clients’ cloud environments for them so they have an understanding of how many they have, where they’re replicated to, etc. They may not need to know the specific data center or provider’s name, but setting this kind of precedent for them encourages them to ask the question for themselves. Knowledge is power!

Leveraging cloud education into revenue

Once your clients understand the cloud, your opportunities to provide services like cloud-to-cloud backup open up. Many SMBs think that having data in the cloud with platforms like Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace means the data is protected and safe from loss, which is not the case.

Once your clients understand that cloud data isn’t impervious, start the conversation on the importance of backing up Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace. With this education, your clients are going to be far more amenable to additional costs. 

Ultimately, your customers trust you as their MSP. You’re responsible for their data and you’re responsible for providing them with top-notch managed services. They pay you so that they don’t need to know what the cloud is. Adding a personal touch by making sure that your customers know what the cloud actually is before you try to sell them on that benefits package. This can go a long way towards improving your relationship and priming each user on an individual level as well as the customer as a whole to have that stronger, deeper understanding of our collective future. 


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