Are you afraid Office 365 will ruin your MSP business? You shouldn’t be.

In fact, if you play your cards right, you can come out way ahead in the race to win more customers in the cloud. That’s right. According to a recent report by IDC, SMBs worldwide will spend more than $600 billion on IT in 2018. And, the good news is, small businesses are expected to spend $684 billion on hardware, software and IT services in 2021.

So, how can you capture this booming market? By learning how to adapt.

Learn how to grow your business with the Office 365 Sales Enablement Toolkit

It’s no secret that many Managed Service Providers have been reluctant to offer their customers solutions, such as Office 365, to stay relevant in the cloud market. Instead of grabbing the opportunity to grow their client base by building new offers around Office 365, they’ve chosen to lag behind.

A recent survey by CompTIA showed that 62% of the MSPs questioned cited the cloud as their number one business concern. And another 44% said they only supported cloud services when their customers asked them to.

Is Office 365 the Problem?

Are these fears justified? Are cloud solutions – specifically Office 365 – the root cause of the problems plaguing MSPs today?

Probably not. We know that you’ve invested a lot of time and effort in building on-premises infrastructure and professional services for your clients. So, when Office 365 came out in 2013, it’s natural that you would see this popular cloud solution as a direct attack on your livelihood.

Gone are the days when you could make a decent living running a break-fix operation. A lot of small businesses are moving to the cloud and are looking for more customized solutions. They also want strategic advice about cloud products. Are you up to the challenge? It’s time to shift your focus and become a specialized business consultant for your clients.

The Word on Reddit

This idea is also trending on Reddit.

“I have found the best MSPs built their business by doing this already (becoming business consultants). They build their entire offering around being a consultative, strategic partner… and less about break-fix, tickets and helpdesks.”

Here are 5 ways Office 365 can help you stay in the game.

1. Let’s Talk Security

Everyone is worried about data security and with good reason. A recent report by Breach Level Index said more than 9 billion data records have been lost or stolen since 2013, with 2 billion of those breaches occurring in 2017 alone. More people are using their personal devices for work, which has increased the number of potential entry points for malware. This is a great opportunity to build tailored solutions to deal with security threats. Why not offer security training? Your small business clients will need your help to ensure their employees are well informed when it comes to phishing scams and other kinds of breaches. Take a look at Office Protect, a new security solution for Office 365 clients.

2. Learn to Automate

Another challenge for MSPs is learning how to automate the services they provide their customers, such as invoicing, technical support for Office 365 and managing customer service agreements. Many MSPs are still doing these tasks manually, which is hampering their growth. A case study published by ConnectWise, a company that offers a business automation platform, showed that MSPs who automate their business processes can see a substantial increase in revenue.

Not ready to tackle automation? According to Reddit, MSPs who don’t automate will simply get left behind.

“I think the biggest threat to most MSPs is that they aren’t automating enough. Desk guys are maintaining the status quo and they aren’t focusing on providing value to show the client things about their business that can help them make more (money). Our investment should be in automating the backups, emails, spam filters, software deployments, documentation, VPN setups and network configs so we can focus on the stuff our clients actually care about.”

3. Be A Trusted Advisor

You’ll always have technical issues to deal with, but there’s a big difference between being a tech and a business consultant. Your clients are looking for trusted advisors who understand their business goals. For example, should they buy their Office licenses through the Microsoft Volume Licensing program or with Office 365? And which plan would be the best fit for their business — Office 365 Business Premium or E3? While many MSPs focus on upselling service plans or equipment simply to increase their margins, the true business consultant will make sure that the services they provide really fit their clients’ needs. Remember, if you focus on making your clients more successful, they’ll be more likely to refer business your way and purchase even more services from you.

4. Expand Your Offering

Since Office 365 is sold under Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program, you’ll be able to offer your clients other CSP products, such as Dynamics 365 and Azure. This is a great opportunity to make more money and broaden your portfolio. The CSP program gives you complete autonomy to set your own prices and margins and bill your customers directly. You can also create unique bundles for your clients by adding your own services, such as technical support, software customization, training and managed security solutions. If you can’t figure out how to take advantage of these opportunities, you’ll have a hard time surviving in this market.

5. Make Money with Data Migration

Data migration is a big deal for many small businesses and if you can show your client that you have a good handle on the process, he’ll feel more confident about doing business with you in the future. Your first step is to build a solid migration plan. It’ll take a lot of work, but your goal is to arrive at the client’s site fully prepared. Be prepared to answer your client’s questions about getting his business ready. Help him define roles and responsibilities for his staff who might be involved in the migration process. You can even split the migration services into a number of steps, including planning, network assessment and account synchronization. Once you do all this work for your client, there’s nothing stopping you from charging a fee per mailbox to migrate your customer’s data. You’ve saved him so much time and effort, he’ll be more than happy to pay you for this service!

A Promising Future

The IT industry will never stop evolving, and MSPs who refuse to adapt are making a big mistake. If you want to surf a new wave, you have to be the first one at the beach to test out the water. For the past few years, the problem has been Office 365. Flash forward a couple of years and it will be something else.

Not ready to make the leap on your own? Join forces with a solid partner who can equip you with the tools to succeed. Find out more about SherWeb’s partner program here.

Written by Janice Lavallee Marketing Content Writer @ SherWeb

Janice is one of SherWeb's Content Marketing Writers. She has worked in Sales and Marketing for more than 20 years, creating messaging that will help our partners better understand the products they sell. When she’s not writing, editing or translating documents, Janice can be found perfecting her serve and ground strokes on a tennis court. She’s an avid volunteer for the Rogers’ Cup tennis tournament in Montreal.