Podcast: IT AudiT Roundtable
Great conversations with Frank DeBenedetto, Mike Brooks of audiT and our own Eric Buhrendorf about understanding the needs of small business owners alike. Feel free to watch the whole podcast above or check out the excerpts below!
Mike Brooks (00:01):
All right. We’re live. Welcome everybody. I’m here today with of course Frank DiBenedetto and Eric Buhrendorf I hope I pronounce…
You. Got it right. You just literally told me how to pronounce. It took four years to teach them how to say given the data. So we’re going to give him some, you know, some credit here. I couldn’t spell my name until I think freshman year of high school and couldn’t pronounce it right until after that. I’m sure. So it’s fine.
That’s awesome. Well, Eric, you talk, I’m going to let you introduce yourself to everybody so that they know who you are.
Eric Buhrendorf (00:39):
Sure, sure. Eric Buhrendorf, I own an IT company Evernet in the lower New England area based out of Hartford and Greenwich, Connecticut. I’ve been doing that for a lot of years,15 years or so. That’s just that’s me
Mike Brooks (01:00):
And you are a pilot, which is really cool.
Eric Buhrendorf (01:03):
Oh my God. When my wife sees this, she’s going to laugh hysterically. So there’s a thing that with with pilots, it’s like, how long, how long does it take before a pilot tells somebody new that he’s a pilot, right? But you took care of that for me. But yeah, I am a pilot, a private pilot, a lot of, a lot of people a lot of normals as I call them you know, you tell them you’re a pilot and they immediately think you’re driving the buses in the sky, but no, it’s I am a light private pilot, a licensed private pilots. So essentially recreation. I could, I can use it for business personally, but I can’t be hired to fly other people.
Mike Brooks (01:49):
If I wanted to hire you to fly over, say a specific spot in New Jersey and drop like manure on someone. Could you do?
Eric Buhrendorf (01:58):
Yeah, I would have to pay for some of the guests in order for that to be lawful. I think this is going a lot better than I thought it was going to be heading. Cause I thought you were going to tell me, Eric, that your wife didn’t know you were a pilot and then Facebook hat. So there’s just a significantly better than I thought the path we were about to go down. So no, no, she, her and my girls absolutely love flying with me. And you would think that they like to fly more than I do, bu there are you know, it seems like that the owners took up you know, flying pretty, pretty cool off the top of my head that I know. Yeah. I mean, my grandfather was a Naval pilot.
Eric Buhrendorf (02:49):
My dad grew up flying in my, in my grandfather Cessna. I grew up, my dad, you know, was, was like motorcycles. So we were a motorcycling family. And then when I started having, when I started my own family, you know, I had five motorcycles in the garage. And I don’t know if I want to tell this story or not, but I took my oldest daughter for a ride with my wife. So she was sandwiched in between me and my wife on my Harley. And, you know, I realize it’s socially unpopular, but not technically illegal. So we just did it a little lap around town. And of course we stopped next to a cop at a stoplight and he did what he did, one of these and, you know, and he like rolled down the window and he’s like, what are you doing? And I’m like, what? You know, and he’s like, get home. And I’m like, all right. So after that I was like, you know, I can’t, you can’t really bring a family on motorcycles. So that summarized, I actually liquidated all of them. And started flying on a plane.
Mike Brooks (04:00):
You get to see the, I, you know, we’re friends on Facebook. So I keep in touch with you. And I connected on LinkedIn and I always enjoy watching, you know, seeing the pictures from the beautiful pictures that you take.
Eric Buhrendorf (04:12):
Yeah. I mean, I’m a pretty open book on the social side of things. And you know, what I started doing recently was I started I started posting personal stuff on LinkedIn because when I look at, when I spend some time on LinkedIn and I see people posts, it gets, so it gets so stodgy, you know, it gets so tiring seeing people self-promote professionally and the few people I go out there that have put themselves out personally, I think, I, I think I appreciate that. And I, and I feel like I value those contributions. I mean, the perfect, you know, we all have to promote business and ourselves professionally and stuff on that channel, but it’s, I feel, I like when I see people saying like, Hey, here’s a little bit of me rather than the business me. And so that’s kind of what I’ve been doing lately is rather than just throw a suit and tie on and say how great I am professionally. I just like to say, like, this is also who I am as a person, you know,
Mike Brooks (05:09):
Eric Buhrendorf (05:11):
How long have you been using the audit for just curious. So I think I first, you guys first showed up on my radar, I think at least a year. Right. Mike, before I actually signed up. Yeah.
Mike Brooks (05:26):
Well, the backstory of that is, you know, you kind of, I don’t, I think, I don’t remember how we met. Maybe we met at an event or you came into our list somehow, but I noticed you were like, you know, 40 minutes away from me.
Eric Buhrendorf (05:44):
Yeah, yeah. You’re Connecticut too. Yeah.
Mike Brooks (05:47):
Yeah. So I’m South of you and I’m
Eric Buhrendorf (05:51):
Did you guys, cause I usually my I’m, I’m a thick headed person sometimes and I feel like I’m always late to the party. And you know, like when, when I started liking Dave Matthews band, when like it was past day and tacky, you know, like I was like three years late. It’s a Dave. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Like I can’t go back to scrape band. So when I, you know, I started my my it company, you know, when it was, we were an IT SP, service provider. And then of course the managed service model kind of got, you know, was coming around and things like that. So you know, I don’t know if, you know, we use Autotask owned by Datto, for example. And, you know, before we started using Autotask in 2013, and I believe they started the company in 2006, I started my company in 2007.
Eric Buhrendorf (06:49):
I was running my it company out of outlook. If you can imagine we were starting like user passwords and the note section company, contact cards, you know, like some of the stuff we were doing. So I have to say from a problem before I look for the solution and I guess that’s intuitive and most part, but I look around and I feel like there’s so many smarter people than me doing smarter things, or they’re like, they’re getting it before me, you know, but one or the other, I eventually get it. And I come around. So when I, you know, we started doing our quarterly business reviews start promoting those, started understanding internally the value of them to our clients. You know, the problem is that it’s hard for me to sell something to my clients unless I buy into it, unless I see the value in it, not just because of my industry, peers are doing it.
Eric Buhrendorf (07:45):
And I think that’s also a lot of my experience too, is my industry peers. Start doing things before I understand why they’re doing your, why, why there’s value to doing it. So at any rate, long story short, you know, quarterly business review, the concept of QBR quarterly business reviews comes around and I start saying, okay, well, we gotta do is audits. We gotta do information gathering. We have, you know, we had been in the practice at that by the time I found you guys to having rich information collection and storage. And we were starting to report on and things like that. But when I found it, you guys, I couldn’t get my mind wrapped around the paradigm. And I don’t know if this is inside baseball. So cut this out if it is in post Mike, but I didn’t originally, I couldn’t, when I first met Mike and audit, I didn’t get my mind around the paradigm of the sales presentation tool.
Eric Buhrendorf (08:41):
And I think you guys still suffer. I see it from time to time in the face, in the it business owners group on Facebook and some other channels. I think other people also don’t get that because we’re so stuck in were in the reporting tools. Like I don’t know if it’s offic or rapid fire and things like that. So when I first looked at your demo, like I was like, where’s the data gathering agent that I install on the server? You know what I mean? And poor Mike, I think it was Mike, that was like, that’s not how this works, you know? And I just, my brain was like hitting a brick wall and that’s what sometimes happens like that. So so anyways, I don’t mean to throw it on. So I, I found I was looking for a tool that would help me quantify my clients what I call the state of the state, you know what I mean?
Eric Buhrendorf (09:37):
Like where they are, where they should be, where they’ve come from, that sort of thing in the context of the services, products and services and support that we provide for them. So anyways, I found you guys, you know, I let my fingers do to walk into the internet, found you guys found a rapid fire, spawn, some other things like that. Back then, you know, a hundred bucks a month or whatever the subscription was, you know, is not an insignificant fee where it’s not something that I consider a don’t consider. So I wasn’t, I wasn’t compelled or I think it was more mostly me. Like I didn’t get the paradigm at the time. So I met Mike and, and I trialed it and then I kind of moved on and then I think it was maybe a year or two later, I reconnected with Mike and I solicited you guys.
Eric Buhrendorf (10:29):
I kind of had this problem, which is I needed to quantify the state of the state for my client. And I had to deliver a report on this and for, and for prospective clients. And then that’s when the that’s when it clicked for me. So again, that’s me like, you know, Nickelback, Nickelback moment. So what was that experience like the first time you used the report? Like w how did it obviously you’re still with us, so it must’ve been positive, but tell me about the first time you used it and what the outcome was. Well, the looks well, so like once I had the aha moment, so I’m an off, I’m the world’s worst salesperson. I can only sell things that I believe in that I understand that I see that bring value to my clients. So once I had that aha moment, I saw the power that I could leverage from the tool.
Eric Buhrendorf (11:23):
And then I did my first one with my client. It was in person you’re in their conference room, you know, and I saw this document that I was creating for them that was bringing value to them and strengthening my relationship with them. And it was just like, I mean, you know, you can’t make it, of course you can put a price on anything, but that’s where, that’s where it was that aha moment with that experience with seeing the clients you know it’s not that they were impressed because, you know, like it, I dunno what clients you guys have, but none of the executives or business managers that I interface with, like, get real excited about the, the work that we do together, per se, there were like the water company for them. You know what I mean? Like, you know, they want to open the tap and have water come out.
Eric Buhrendorf (12:21):
You know what I mean? They want to like sit down and their computers and just have it work. They don’t want to like, geek out with me on like reports and ticket counts, and SLA is, and success rates and failures. They just wanna know, like, how many red blocks do I have? How many, you know, how much is it gonna cost me to get to the green blocks? You know? And then, you know, when their eyes glaze over or they check their watch twice, and it’s five minutes, that’s when I start talking faster and I start wrapping things up during the first meeting, you know, they just have a very, I said, you know how to sell. That’s exactly what I do. Yeah. But during the first meeting, bringing in the audit report I had less of that. Like I could tell there was less dread and I hate to say that’s the measure of success, but they had less dread when they looked at the report because the report is very digestible for lamen terms.
Eric Buhrendorf (13:18):
Which is really, you guys said, you guys really did that. So yeah, I mean, it’s a great tool. You know if you ask the poor folks that data community you know, I have something to say about everything. So I missed your feedback. My, my staff laugh at me because when some, when a software doesn’t do what you intuitively expected to do, or, you know, or it’s falling short, I’m doing something that could bring huge value to our workflows. You know, I’m always like feature requests, you know, get those feature requests, you know, because the post Steve Vollmer, bill Gates era, you know, something changed in software development and, and I’m probably preaching to the choir, but, you know, software, these days is user driven. You know, the, the software, you know, you guys remember we would just get the new version and that’s what the developers told us.
Eric Buhrendorf (14:11):
We want, you know what I mean? And we would, and we would say, thank you, sir, may I have another, but now you got the software development, a good software house, really partners with the community, their community, and brings the tool that that the community needs and wants. And so, you know, I’m working for hopefully one day, you guys won’t integrate with Autotask and the is that, you know, the PSA leaders out there, it’d be great to just have that, that you know, data flow right into that. It’s common. I was just testing it the other day, actually. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. I, you know, I, I always complained to, because
Eric Buhrendorf (14:52):
They’re, Autotask because their name is somehow a misnomer as auto tasky, as they think they are, there’s some things that are not so auto. Like you can’t create a ticket from their work. They’re a workflow engine, for example, which seems like, you know, my blows my mind, but for you guys, for example, like you guys should run out, run the you know, your, you guys should run that scheduler. You guys should have a scheduler, right? And then you should, we should be able to have somehow you know, subscribed certain accounts to QBR and you guys have a scheduler, and if it launched the ticket and then we could use auto tasks workflow engine to route that respect the resource, then, you know, that’s huge value there.
Frank DeBenedetto (15:43):
We’re testing that too. There’s a whole QBR calendar built in scheduler, the ability to pull the contract value and to set up a business review schedule.
Frank DeBenedetto (15:55):
So if you say, Hey if, if it’s under a thousand dollars agreement value, then we want to do annual review. If it’s between 1,000 and 2,500, we’re going to do quarterly or semi-annually right. So that way you set up your whatever your default schedule is. And then when you pull the the audit T in from the PSA ConnectWise or Autotask and as soon as you say you’ll be able to apply that QBR logic automatically, and it’ll set up the business reviews for you. And then all of a sudden minders you’ll be able to see ’em on the calendar. You’ll be able to associate the appointment with the business review, be able to add notes to the audit items, to the audit T and the audit. So you’ll be able to tie all the notes back into that. So, yeah, there we’re testing all the functionality it’s it’s almost almost completed. We’re just doing something.
Eric Buhrendorf (16:57):
That’s cool. Are you guys, are you guys still struggling with conveying the message to future prospective customers that it’s a, it’s not a rapid fire as tool and information gatherer reporter, or is that, are you guys finding that to be a challenge anymore?
Frank DeBenedetto (17:17):
And I don’t think s o. I think that, you know, the only reason why it was a challenge in the beginning, it was because we created a software category that didn’t exist. Right, right. So there was an education process for us to say, no, no, we were not a data collection tool. And we never set out to replace a rapid fire or a line chart or an Orvick. We, we were the presentation layer that was, was missing. I had all the tools, right.
Frank DeBenedetto (17:42):
And I had more tools than I knew what to do with my problem was, is all these data points coming at me from all over source manually? Like, there’s, there’s nothing that in my mind, in my opinion, that replaces a, a D a good old discovery session with a prospect, because you’re building that rapport. And I believe that’s, that’s when the sale is made. Right. All the tools you use to gather all the data, that’s kind of a formality that we have to go through. I believe you’d do a better job forensically after they’re your client. Right? So the challenge is, is how do I source enough things initially, without putting them through some crazy forensic process and then present? So you touched on like, what do we do to be able to present to them in such a way where, where they are actually leaning forward and they want to know, like, what does this mean?
Frank DeBenedetto (18:31):
Right. Capture that current state. And then, and only then can you show them, Hey, this is the future state, and we can close that gap. This is what it’s going to take. So that’s what we struggled with. So the education process for us was, was around teaching that concept, right? We, we, we said, right from day one, you have all the data collection tools that you could possibly need. You don’t need to install out there. What you need is some, some way to simply sell all this stuff. And every year that’s gone by, it’s only gotten more complicated. There’s a new widget service, a gadget, you know, I can, I can remember in, you know, off the top of my head in four short years, you know, we, we didn’t have a dark web monitoring. Now we do in a bunch of formats. We didn’t have security awareness training.
Frank DeBenedetto (19:18):
Now we do on multiples, right. We didn’t have the the managed threat, the Texans, like like the hunt trusses of the world that didn’t exist. We didn’t have a threat locker or black point, like all of these. So it’s only getting more complicated data is added a ton of new things, you know, SAS data protection. Like we weren’t, we weren’t doing cloud to cloud backup five years ago. So how do you sell all these different things? Or how do you show a prospect that, Hey, you’re not doing this right. Without confusing them using battlecards and all that. So that’s really what it is for us. So I think I can tell you, Michael probably agree a lot of vendors, especially the ones that we love our channel only, right? Because they don’t sell direct, like not like Dell. Right? So Jada is a perfect example.
Frank DeBenedetto (20:09):
So if they don’t buy a data from you, they’re never going to Amazon and buying it, you know, direct and, and bypassing us as the MSP. So we are right in the middle of the supply chain vendor to med MSP to the end end consumer. So what we started to do is, is we, over the years have gotten the attention of more and more vendors who have helped pedal our message. And I think that’s helped us change, you know, the education side of it to be in where it wasn’t like one MSP at a time. Now it’s one vendor at a time. And the vendor tells all their partners and a vendor might have 500 or a thousand or a couple of thousand MSPs. Right. So our message is being told at a grander scale. And I think it’s been easier for us to, I think you’re right. But then you can on where the value is and where we fit. Yeah. Yeah,
Mike Brooks (21:04):
Yeah. And that’s you know, when you ask that questionnaire, that’s always was the first deck, and I’m going to talk more, I’m going to bring it back to what our conversation is. Right? Our conversation topic has been objections and it’s, anytime a person has a question in the process, it’s an objection. Right. And, and people I think, and me, and you had this conversation, I love the way you handle objections. Eric, you kind of said you don’t handle them because you’re, you’re talking about them before they come up. And, and that’s the trick with, you know, objections are kind of like a dirty word, right. Or people get scared of the, you know, the idea of dealing with objections, but all an objection is, is a question that somebody has, and you can answer it in a couple of different ways. Like when somebody used, I used to go to shows all the time and, and in the early days, when people would ask exactly what you asked is so are you guys like rapid fire?
Mike Brooks (21:53):
It was the most question we’d always get. And the first thing I would do is just say, you know, why do you ask, you know, and I would want to look for more information to understand why they’re asking that question. It’s a lot of times people are, you know, I guess you, if you’re not prepared for that question, or you’re not thinking about it from a sales perspective, you might think, well, this person’s here because they want to, they think we’re the competitor to fire. They want us to get rid of it, but really they use rapid fire and they don’t want to have to stop using rapid fire. They want to know if this works with it. So it’s understanding why people are asking it and then telling the story, which is what Frank just did. Frank knows that, you know, we talked about how we created that category and he’s got it really dialed into on the on what it means from a value and benefit perspective, as opposed to a feature perspective. So great. That was a great example of dealing with objections.
Eric Buhrendorf (22:54):
Yeah. I mean, when you asked me to be on a show with you guys, you know, I the, the biggest thing in life, I think I dislike is when people waste my time time is the one thing that you can’t get more of. Everybody knows that. And the exchange of, you know, I know I, I very rarely exchange my time for money even these days personally. So I didn’t want to waste your guys’ time. So when you asked me how I deal with objections, you know, my answer to Mike was, I don’t, I’m not, I don’t do a hard sale. You know, when we, when we have a new perspective, clients reach out to us it’s because they, they knew that they had a need that we, we may are very likely can solve. So I, you know, I’ve been doing this for so long that when I present know, I don’t want to bore you guys with some of that history, but we basically, I changed, I did a major transformation of the company basically within the last three years where we basically said that we know we know what our clients need the best client for us as the client who trusts and values us to deliver that for them.
Eric Buhrendorf (24:14):
Rather than the client wants to spar with us on best practices and any sort of knowledge they purport to bring to the table, you know if that makes sense. So we do sell things. What I would say, we’re not salespeople, you know, we, we, we’re not, I always make the joke. I don’t know where I heard it, but we’re not selling ketchup popsicles to Eskimos here. You know what I mean? We’re, we’re, we’re selling the things that bring value and capital to our clients. So when you asked you know, we’re talking about objections today you know, if a client or a prospective client has a question, I love educating my clients. Not that I like to be the, know it all, because I’m certainly fine with learning from other people too. But if I get the objection, like I had a prospect call me reach out to me this week and she runs a pretty good accounting firm across multiple States, she has a West coast presence in East coast presence.
Eric Buhrendorf (25:18):
And she started talking to me about rolling out a robust data sharing platform. And of course, you know, there’s so many choose from, I mean, you know, I don’t we’re vendor agnostic, but we did, we have standardized on the office 365 suite because, you know, I think the value is, is so is there’s huge value there, you know? So then we go down this rabbit hole, I said, where’s your email hosted? You know, where’s your, you know, are using teams for communication, you know, you know, SharePoint data library collaborating with office word that sort of posted word, things like that. And we sit down and just kind of devolved into like this, like, well, I don’t, you know, the opinions about companies and things like that. I said, you know, some, like, I, I, you know, you tell me what system you want us to deploy.
Eric Buhrendorf (26:08):
We’ll deploy for you. If you’re asking me, you know, what system we think brings you the most value and capital to your business. This is the one we think, you know, so objections, I don’t really you know, I just don’t spend a lot of time on a hard objections cause I don’t, I’m not the hard sale, you know what I mean, if that makes any sense. So I just was afraid that I was, I didn’t want to waste your time today in this, you know, and if you know, talking about it in that context, I guess if that makes sense.
Mike Brooks (26:36):
No, not at all. And everybody deals with objections that you deal with them, even if you don’t think you do, because if you’re not getting them, then you’re, you’re a, a couple of reasons, Right? Like number one, you’re either the lowest price solution, which I don’t think you are, or you are answering them before they ask them, which is pro Ray. Right. So awesome. Good stuff. Yeah. So are you, you, you and your integrate, you’ve integrated audit into your into your process. How has, you know, with COVID and everything, have you been out there doing a lot of sales presentations? Are you, how’s that going for you?
Eric Buhrendorf (27:13):
Not a single in person meeting presentation since March virtual, have you been doing any virtual virtual? Yep. We’ve been delivering the QBR is virtually. And that has been a really positive experience. We, we started rolling out our security awareness training virtually and you know, save for you old fuddy duddies and carry, carry overs. I just, you know, it’s just amazing that you know, I decentralized our company.
Eric Buhrendorf (27:50):
Frank, do you guys still have a central office? People move their bodies to at 8:00 AM every morning, every day, and then leave.
Frank DeBenedetto (27:59):
I’ve only been there about six times. I went there last actually I went to earlier this week to make sure it was still standing, but yeah,
Eric Buhrendorf (28:10):
I mean, listen, I, we had an office in Hartford for when we first started and I commuted in Hartford and traffic and then we just moved to and then I moved, I got tired of driving into the city every morning. And then I moved to a suburb in Rocky Hill, South of Hartford for, for the next 10 years or so. And I’m just, again, starting a family and, you know, wanting to be, you know, more available to my family. So I basically wanted to work from home. And I said to a staff when 2017 you know, all the texts, all the technical resources were in the field, you know, 80% of the time, 50, 60, 70, 80% of the time.
Eric Buhrendorf (28:52):
Anyways. And of course, as a company, we were leveraging remote work, work from home tools and processes to deal with snow days and superstorms this and that. So it was really just some admin staff that were really commuting. So anyways, in 2017, summer of 2017, I put it to the staff. I said, you know, how do you guys feel about working from home exclusively? And all but two people were like, yeah, hell yeah. And so I said, okay, so I locked the office that June, and then everybody worked from all of course, we were all ready for it. The two people that didn’t like it soon exited the organization on their own volition. They were not pushed or asked to leave. They just, it didn’t fit with the culture that they valued anymore. And we have since replaced them with people who do value the culture.
Eric Buhrendorf (29:44):
So in March of you know, COVID 2020 you know, we were, we were all scared, very sad for people who were losing you know, businesses and family, people, family members, but it was a little hard to not, you know, feel a little smug that we were, you know, prepared. And we were, we were incredibly prepared because by 2020 we were well, you know, prepare for work from home. So seeing, I saw, I, I, sorry, I always lead with a huge backstory when I just tell you one little piece, I’m sorry, it’s a problem. Point being is when we started delivering QPRs security training remotely through zoom and we, we use, we actually use teams. Teams is playing catch up in zoom to do the session less or user lists connections and meeting and things. But seeing the novelty in the look in my client’s eyes, you know, it was, was charming. Of course, we knew that we could, we could have done this for years. You know what I mean? But it was it was it’s, you know, it’s the presentation lends itself very well. The product that you guys have audit, it lends itself very well to you know, remote presentation. So that’s been nice.
Frank DeBenedetto (31:07):
Yeah. I’ve got to gotta be able to pivot, I think. And I know for me, I don’t answer if you found this hard, but like doing business reviews was, was dreadful because I could tell the client didn’t enjoy it. They felt like no matter what I came in with, it was a reason for me to sell something to them. And we hear that from a lot of of MSPs who they kind of talk about the process. Like it’s not something that they want to get involved with or really do. And I think it’s because of what they’ve, what they’ve done in the past, right? Whoever decided to teach MSPs to show up with, you know, mountains of of ticket reports and tech data I think really did them a disservice because the clients you mentioned that they want the water, right?
Frank DeBenedetto (31:58):
They don’t need to know how the, how the plumbing’s made or what the water companies do. And to get the water there, they just know they pay and they turn it on and it works. I think that the first time we started using these, the, this report format in business reviews, I could tell you, clients would say to me, why weren’t we using this all along? And I didn’t want to tell them because I had to create it because it didn’t exist. But that was some of the original validation that what we were doing. And that report was the right thing. And I was client number one for this. I was the one that tested it, but you know, you fast forward today. And I’m in a position, Mike points this out, all the I’m in a position where I know within reason, like what my client’s threshold is.
Frank DeBenedetto (32:45):
Like, if I think something’s important to roll out, but I can’t get to them because, you know, we have about 91 clients that pay us MRR every month. So as we do these reviews, it’s just physically impossible, you know, for, for our team to get to every one of them, maybe it might take, let’s say four to six months to go through an entire, you know, 90 some odd clients. Well, imagine you’re like the client in month six. So you didn’t know about this stuff for five months. And you’re like, you didn’t tell me that you were using a product like frat locker or something. Right. So what I’ll do many times is I’ll add it right onto their, their bill. So it might add two to $3 a month to like a manage workstation. And then if the question, it gives me an opportunity to say, well, let me show you what your business review, this, this was going to be red, right?
Frank DeBenedetto (33:35):
Remove it. It would screen. Now I can remove and turn it back red. And your bill will adjust by 60 bucks for the month. And they’re like, no, no, no. And so I, so I don’t know if this falls into the category of, you know, it’s better to, you know, to beg for forgiveness and ask permission. But this is because I have been doing this process with clients for a period of time that the client gets used to it. So if I show up and say, Hey, I haven’t seen you in six months, but this is, this alarms been going off, it’s been red. And I just didn’t get a chance to tell you about it. They would look at me like, like that’s yeah, you’re negligent. Exactly, though. And then of course, what do they say to you? Well, how much is, Yeah, that’s three bucks a month. Yeah. You know, 20 workstations. It would have been $60 a month. They’re like, yeah.
Eric Buhrendorf (34:21):
Frank, it, the reasons why I like you is I feel like you’re like, you’re like a brother in the foxhole with me. You know what I mean? Like when I, when I view the various conversations that are happening among our colleagues in various forums Facebook, Facebook has a few groups for the it business owners and whatnot. And I see, I see some of the business owners there that really tread lightly on the, that billing relationship with their, with their clients. I mean, I used to do that. I mean, I was Jesus, I think for the first eight to 10 years, I was in business. I never raise my rates. My costs were going up, but I never raised my rates. And this was what I was telling you guys earlier in the conversation then about three years ago, maybe four, I mean, almost out of necessity. I almost went bankrupt because I would, you know, you could make a couple million a year, but if you’re spending exactly what you’re making more $1 more it’s why you’re not making any money. So why I do it, you know? So the decision we made was to know who we are and know where we’re a value proposition was to our clients. And, and, and also
Eric Buhrendorf (35:38):
Like, it’s very important what you described it, the, the trust relationship that we build with our clients is what allows us to do what you described. Right? So if we were to close the foot around and not move the needle because we were afraid of that conversation, we would actually be doing our client to service. Right. So, so, but that really takes me for me. I want to speak for you. For me. It took a lot of years of doing business to realize that sometimes the right thing to do can be a painful thing to do. But then what I also realized is if you, I mean, if you keep doing the right thing you will continue to curate clients. And when I say partner pertinent clients who partner with you, you know, so and then they will see that you were acting in their best interest, that two or $3 a month.
Eric Buhrendorf (36:36):
I mean, in our case, we, we had the right size, a few contracts over the past 24 months, the amount of, to two considerable increases to a couple of clients increases. They won’t see that, that relative increase again because we’ve sent right size the contracts. But we had we, we, we had to risk alienating ourselves from a number of clients because we finally figured out what our cost burdens were, what our, what our, what our market position was. But yeah, I mean, to your point I don’t know, I’m trailing off again,
Frank DeBenedetto (37:09):
But don’t you think though, that, like, the realization that you had was was you finally realizing that you were inside of your own head? Because I think that many of us not being sales salespeople, a lot of MSPs are not, you know, Hey we started this B and I hired three salespeople.
Frank DeBenedetto (37:29):
It’s usually the tech owner, right? We don’t love selling and I’m like, you, I don’t want the hard sell you get inside of your head. You know what, I really don’t want to go to my client and tell them I’m going to raise the rates by five, $5 a month during, during COVID. And you know, I’m not going to do it. I did exactly that. And on April 1st you know, we raised our rates because I added two, two products, hunters, and third wall into my stack. And I did it. I had been, I had been looking at it, but I also did it cause I knew everyone was going to scatter. It’d be remote. And I want to make sure my clients are protected. So I got in my head, but I think what this tool allows you to do is you can help the client make a educated buying decision without it making, feeling them feel like you’re selling them, or you feel like you’re selling them.
Frank DeBenedetto (38:21):
Right. If I show up and like another example, I have a few clients that have a lot of users and I know their email signatures are all crazy. Right. So I identify that I can make like a dollar a month by doing office three 65 automated email. There’s real easy. Right. There’s a cool value add there. So I throw that it’s not red, it’s not critical, but I thought it was yellow. Right. And it’s this review setting when you’re this close from the finish line. So if you’re at like a 99 and you know, your goal is to get to a hundred and all of a sudden it clicks down to a 97, you are highly motivated to do whatever it would take to get you to that hundred. Right. And it’s psychological. So somebody like, wow, that makes great sense. You know, it’s really cool.
Frank DeBenedetto (39:04):
And I always say, I’m a wizard at getting the client to pay for stuff that’s good for them. And it makes it easier for me to do my job. Right. And I make a dollar or something doing it. Right. So that’s what I like. And that’s what auto allows me to do. It’s actually fun. I say, Hey, you know, you’re signaling, you got 60 people in your company. Your signatures are like a mess. How do you guys handle that? Will you just tell everybody like, Hey, here’s the logo and emails and stuff. And all of a sudden they’re like, wow, this is awesome. It’s easy for our team to do. And one thing, you know, Mike and I talked about like, how many end points or how many how many end points do you support right now.
Eric Buhrendorf (39:40):
We are over a 1000. But less than 2000.
Frank DeBenedetto (39:45):
Let’s call it 1500, right? You could find something that if you rolled out to every end point and you made just $1, you just netted an extra $1,500 a month. Right. Right. And so if you only have, you know, a hundred end points, maybe the math isn’t, isn’t as exciting. But if you’re, if you’re becoming and you’re at a more mature level, and I think that the MSPs that do really well with audit probably have a thousand to 2000 end points and more, but I think that’s probably like a sweet spot MSP. It works really well because you could play that game all day long, where you are finding a product, that’s a benefit to the client that helps you do a better job as the MSP. And you’re going to make a dollar or some multiple of that at the end. And you do it across the base of clients, which is why the reviews are important because you’re selling into that base.
Frank DeBenedetto (40:42):
The vendors love it, right? Because the vendors like Holy cap, all of a sudden, like if you’re hunters, you’re like, how, how did that guy sell, you know, 1500 end points in one month when it takes our other partners two years to do that because you’re selling it like one end point at a time, right? I’m like, no, we’re going to get this out there right now. And again, that’s some of the mentality that we teach and employ as, as, as more MSPs, understand that what they do is they stopped coming off of the, how do you get the data in there right now? You have to, that’s why you get paid as the MSP, because you’re smart. You’re going to put the data in there, right. The data itself, because it starts to become less important of the focus. And what we’re doing is empowering you as the MSP to do a better job, to take care of that client and who ultimately benefits the client. So you said a brother in the Fox hole, and I love that. And here’s the reason why when I would, or in the early days before audit, I would go in to a prospect and you’ll probably agree with this. Our best prospects are some other MSPs client, right. Because
Eric Buhrendorf (41:45):
Frank DeBenedetto (41:45):
But we don’t have to fight the, Hey, I pay zero now, you know? Yeah. You should pay me $2,000. Right. So they’re already paying somebody. So I would go in and they’d be showing me things. And I would be so disappointed thinking that one of my brothers right in the foxhole is, is this is how you left this. Right. And that prospect has no idea. You know, they’re kind of, I mean, clearly we’re there, they have some problems, but usually they have no idea
Eric Buhrendorf (42:12):
How bad it is.
Frank DeBenedetto (42:14):
I would leave. And I would think to myself, why is that? Is it because there’s no good products and services in our industry? Of course now, right? We’re, we’re flooded with it. So what, so what’s the problem. Clearly, this guy wants to buy something. That’s why I’m there and I’m doing the audit. So what’s the issue. The issue is, is the MSP isn’t good at selling or effective at selling.
Eric Buhrendorf (42:37):
So honestly, sometimes I feel like it’s, I feel like sometimes they’re better at selling than organizing with delivery
Frank DeBenedetto (42:48):
Maybe, but either way what’s happening is, is the client isn’t buying. Right. And who suffers at the end is that client, like, at the end of the day, I go, well, you know, if I don’t get your business, I’m not going to go out of business. Cause I don’t get a $2,000 a month client, I think. But you could go out of business because you have no idea. You don’t know what you don’t know. So like when we came back, we said nuts, you know how he came up with the name of this podcast to elevating it. It was, if we empowered the MSP to be in a better position to, to sell and allow their client to make a buying decision, those clients would be buying those products and services that they need. And they’re the ones who ultimately the beneficiary.
Frank DeBenedetto (43:30):
Yeah. So, you know, I mean, like if No has a backup product and we failed to sell that to our client, they say no, when there is a problem who suffers, well, datto, I was like, yeah, I missed out on some margin and we missed out on some money, but who’s really stuck is the client that didn’t buy it because they didn’t understand it. Or maybe you right. Presentation didn’t work. So that’s kind of how, you know, We’ll teach this and while we’re passionate, because I like to be able to elevate the quality it by impact Msps, like yours to be able to solve it.
Eric Buhrendorf (44:02):
That’s, that’s where that my comment was rooted in that. Cause it’s, it’s nice to when I first started this, you know, to start at a company, it was, you never, you never spoke to the competitor. You never collaborated with a competitor. You know, and it was very standoffish. I never liked that about my industry, our industry. I even thought so much of starting a, an association back in the early two thousands, but I just, you know, busy running my own company. But I started, I joined a peer group a few, a number of years ago. I don’t wanna give a free advertisement, but you probably know who he is. And he runs peer groups, great guy, great groups. And it was so nice. It was a breath of fresh air to see just the other people who were technically competitors, but were brother brothers in arms, if you will, that could be collaborators. So my hats off to you that you’re running an it, you know, successful MSB it company, delivering great products, but you know, of course who better to be positioned to build a great tool that will facilitate that for, you know?
Frank DeBenedetto (45:15):
So yeah, We’re in the trenches and you know, there’s a model there too. I mean, I didn’t set out this, wasn’t my my original mission. My, my model was selfish is, was to help me sell.
Eric Buhrendorf (45:26):
I actually, before, before I joined before I signed on with Autotask in the early two thousands, I was like, I’m gonna, I gotta build my own tool. I got to build my own database. I got to get out of Alabama, you know I even use other products from other that serve other industries. But no. So I give you kudos to do that for, for doing that too. It’s it must have been a heavy lift.
Frank DeBenedetto (45:49):
I remember you know, at the beginning, you know, in like the first year we were trying to get it out there and they, Mike used to call him Frank deals. I would like, I’d be practically giving it away. And a bunch of them were local MSPs. Mike’s like you’re crazy. What are you doing? And I said, you know, I just, I want to see, you know, the industry just be successful with this. And you know, I said, you know, if I was in competition, I would just tell mom then the created it. So yeah, You should go with me, but Hey,
Eric Buhrendorf (46:17):
They speculate that Microsoft took off because they, they were so easily pirated, you know, so you got it, you got to get it out. You got to get people’s hands. You got to show the value, right? I mean, it’s all by showing value. If you show the value. I mean, look at me. I mean, I eventually signed up for the products. I’m submitting my feature requests to you guys. I mean, it’s already shown value and, and it’s a great tool. I’m happy you guys exist. And I, I hope the development stays with it. If you ever need any feedback, let me know.
Mike Brooks (46:49):
Well, thanks, Eric. And thank you guys for thank you. Thank you for coming on here. First of all, this was great. This was Eric’s the first guest we’ve had on the show.
Eric Buhrendorf (47:00):
Hey, I’ll take, I’ll take me, I’ll take the benchmark. If you guys ever, if you want me to be a recurring guest you know, I’m always happy to talk about myself. So a joke. That was a joke. But yeah, I’ve always been interested in, I keep, I keep kicking. I was telling you, Mike, I, I, I always I’ve been kicking this around, kicking the idea around is starting a channel, starting a podcast. I mean, I liked talking about business and our trade and technology. I love talking about those, but I’m not much of an audio video geek. So, you know, doing studios and intros and outros, you know, it’s, I’m just not sure I have the mind for that, but if you ever needed me to come around again be happy to do it.
Mike Brooks (47:43):
Appreciate it. Thank you for being here. Thanks, Frank. And everybody, we’ll see you on the next episode of the Elevating IT podcast and the weekly sales
Eric is a Business IT cybersecurity advisor, consultant, manager, integrator, and protector who founded EVERNET in 2007. Eric co-hosts a podcast called “Finance and Technology Insights by Brian & Eric” on YouTube. Eric is a regular contributor to the EVERNET blog, writing about the latest technology news and providing his expertise in cyber security prevention and management.