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From Automation to Benchmarking: Discover ConnectWise’s MSP Offering Before CP Expo


Keith Graham, ConnectWise: Interview Transcript

Craig: “All right. Hey again, everyone. Channel Futures Editorial Director Craig Galbraith here. Really looking forward to the upcoming Channel Partners Conference and Expo and MSP Summit happening at the Venetian Las Vegas, March 11th through the 14th.  We're almost there. Talking today to Keith Graham. Keith is Director of Channel Sales and Programs at ConnectWise.”

“Of course, one of the biggest names in MSP technology and IT management software. Also an exhibitor in both the Channel Partners Expo Hall and in the MSP Summit this year. Keith, how are you?”

 Keith: “Hey, doing good, Greg. Thank you so much. Excited to be here and talk a little bit more about what we're going to be doing here during the event.”

Craig: “Yeah, I am excited as well. So let's first talk a little bit about ConnectWise. I'm curious; when you go out and talk to MSPs, what it is that you say differentiates you guys from, you know, the other big name options out there.”

Keith: “Hey, great question. You know, really what it comes down to is the way we approach partners within our community, right?”

“We have a lot of people. A lot of people might know this and some people might not, but we actually have quite a big community in regards to IT Nation, in regards to the old Evolve Group. We also made some investments as you guys might know in SLI (Service Leader Index).”

Focussing on Partner’s Future Growth Plans

“So a lot of that actually helps partners understand where they are, where they are from an operational maturity standpoint, where they want to grow and really provide some really good compass on what to do next. And obviously getting their profitability, their growth, their overall operation maturity up. So, I think that's one of the things that we've been very successful in getting across to a lot of the partners who do want to get engaged. And that's the key, right? It’s how far [they] want to engage with us.”

 “Different partners are certainly at different levels in regards to: are they principle led from sales and marketing perspective? Are they really looking for an exit in the next 2, 3 years? So there's different mindsets where partners are. And so we're certainly tailored to really helping partners grow based on where they are and what their plan is in the next, six months, year, and even five years out.”

“So that's kind of where we've been more successful.  With working with partners and growing; when they grow, we grow together. So that's kind of the uniqueness where we look and approach our partner base.”

Craig: “Yeah. That sense of community is so important that you're talking about there. So Keith, what are some of the top challenges you're hearing from partners?”

Keith: “We certainly take a lot of input from our partners, certainly sit in a lot of meetings in the role that I am in, and programs I support,  and it's not something that's too earth shattering or crazy. But if you think about it: some things don't change. Partners want to be more profitable with what they're doing, right?”

“They are more or less concerned about the EBITDA today. They want to know ‘what's my growth’, right? So you look at the markets today in regards to [the fact that] everyone wants hyper growth. Everyone wants over 40 percent growth. So how do I accomplish that?”

“So what's coming up a lot in the industry is the Microsoft Copilot launch. So everyone's thinking, ‘how do I leverage AI?’ and ‘how do I leverage hyper automation?.’ So those are the things that we hear most about. And, if you put that all together, partners just want to know how [they] can incorporate this new service or new technology that helps improve [their] end customer experience.”

“And those are some of the challenges that you hear. And I've been doing this for quite some time, like you have, Craig. So certainly, a lot of it's always consistent. And we feel we can help partners, in certain areas and certainly help them in improving some of those challenges that they're addressing today.”

 Craig: “Yeah, that's great. Keith. So  continue on that point. How does connect help in those areas? You set yourself up there.”

The Importance of Benchmarking as a Partner 

Keith: “Oh did I? All right. Well, as I mentioned earlier, it all depends on how.  Everyone's very busy running a business as a partner, right? So it's how much they want to engage. So really, I mentioned community. But it’s about how we help partners. And I just went through a couple of bullet points earlier, but it’s a simple thing of understanding where you are from an operational maturity standpoint as well as understanding the things you need to do to improve. What is ‘good’? What are the top 25 percent percentile partners that are successful? What are they doing that, as a partner, you are not?”

“So, when you look at the community perspective, getting involved in service leadership within our ConnectWise umbrella all the way to getting more engaged about opening up to other peers about your business and holding each other accountable. That’s one really important thing that I've seen to be quite impactful for our partner community.” 

How ConnectWise Supports Partners 

 “Now, the other role I play here at ConnectWise. We launched a really incredible partner program to help partners. And, as MSPs, to embrace security. Certainly, there are things around talent shortage, and not every partner can build an MSSP, so really what we've provided through our partner program is the ability to help MSPs get to market and help support those guys in regards to our NOC and SOC that we do have to help them address some of their end customer requirements that they normally would have to staff up for. So our partner program really provides subject matter experts to help partners, perhaps do pricing and packaging for the first time to get the right pricing for security services into their base. We have marketing consultants that help them build a business plan and go to market for understanding where they are, where they want to grow. We have marketing consultants that get together and provide the resources to help with channel marketing and sales, whether they have a market department or not hopefully they have a sales organization, if not, we'll help sell with them and to help them increase some of their services and existing endpoints or even actually do customer acquisition right there, because that's always a heavier lift.”

“So with that, the partner program is certainly a big hit for us, with exponential growth for partners that do participate. We've seen partners grow 40 percent and that hyper growth, year-over-year with their end point growth, which is incredible.”

Automation for MSPs

“And the last thing I'd say is: you've heard us talk about us being a platform company. You might have heard about it. It is our platform that you'll see us make more and more announcements on. We talked about hyper automation. You hear about it with regards to the copilot for MSPS, which we recently announced along with a product called Sidekick.  We're certainly going to help a lot of our MSPs be more efficient with respect to tickets and managing those as well as if you look at  what we're doing around hyper-automation in regards to our other products. We certainly have the ability to help partners quickly do scripting in regards to some of the automation tools that we do have and certainly the way the platform is structured today.”

“It's going to allow us to really operate on one database level. So if you think about all the other great tech that's out there, that might not be ConnectWise tech. We certainly are going to have an API availability so that we can consume some of those great tools as well as their own existing tools that are really going to help drive efficiencies to our partner community that are really trying to work out of one platform. So a lot of things are going on, Craig. Certainly, I could talk a little bit further with you about other things, but I'm really excited to get people to come visit us over at our booth or as well as our booth located in the Cloud Village. So a lot of things  to further explore when you come to our booth.”  

Craig: “Great stuff. Thanks for your time today on Channel futures TV. I would encourage any partners to swing by and meet you guys and talk to ConnectWise at both the Channel Partners Expo, Cloud Village Kiosk, as well as the MSP Summit. Keith, thank you”. 

Channel Partners Conference & Expo, ConnectWise