Along with our annual Top 50 Systems Integrators feature, we polled a selection of leading firms on industry topics.

SCN: What kind of challenges and successes have you experienced with selling managed services?

Jeff Irvin, principal, Spinitar
I believe that identifying the right buyer profile for a potential managed services customer continues to be a bit of a challenge while also making the economics of the relationship right for the customer and for us as the integrator. It’s sometimes tough to get the math to work for both parties to support the decision to invest in this type of relationship.

Dale Bottcher, senior VP of sales, AVI-SPL
The biggest challenge is altering public perception. AVI-SPL is not your traditional AV integrator with a singular focus. Today, AVI-SPL offers the most complete solutions package for the global enterprise that, as a whole, is undergoing a dramatic digital workplace transformation. Reworking our go-to-market approach, marketing, and sales enablement has allowed us to inform our audiences of our managed services capabilities and how AVI-SPL can simplify the complex changes destined for their workplace. This approach has heightened our opportunities, and AVI-SPL’s managed services, including on-site, is currently engaged with the most innovative and influential organizations in the world.

Shane Parkes, CEO, Anderson Audiovisual
Managed services have been very well received by our customers, particularly remote monitoring. With AV technology now in use on an everyday basis, the need for that technology to remain operational is critical. Our customers can clearly see the benefit of these types of service offerings, removing the burden on IT staff managing AV and providing peace of mind that their technology is up when they need it. The biggest challenge for us initially was educating our salespeople on the new technologies so that they felt comfortable and confident talking about it and what it can do.

Chris Jamison, vice president, IT and service delivery, Whitlock
Our managed services business continues to grow at a fantastic pace, but our success has also been one of our major challenges. Finding enough talented people to serve our customers around the country is tough. In response, we’ve doubled the size of our corporate recruitment team and built a talent pool filled with some amazingly smart people. Scaling globally in many ways is easier as our leadership in the Global Presence Alliance provides access to 4,500 professionals around the world, and now a global service desk providing 24/7 multilingual support for our enterprise customers.

Dana Barron, CEO, HB Communications
Global managed services is HB’s fastest-growing segment, largely because of overcoming the challenges in delivering consistent global managed services. We embraced ITIL processes and created key global partnerships. Linking that with our remote HBview NOC services, we have flexible but consistent processes across our NOC and local services on a global basis. We constantly invest as we grow, and we’re currently upgrading our NOC monitoring, management, and help desk services. Another important challenge we addressed is the compliance requirements for security and audit required by our multinational clients, such as ISO 27001, and SOC 1 and 2.

Jim Ford, president, Ford AV
We have had good success in selling managed services, although it is still a small percentage of our total AV installation sales. It appears that small customers are less likely to pay for services after the installation. They attempt to do the work themselves.

Aaron Miller, executive VP of operations, Avidex Industries
Although Avidex has been quite successful in selling and deploying maintenance agreements as a managed service, we are actively looking at other solutions such as remote monitoring to add to our portfolio. We have also joined TSIA to help us in developing new offerings and creating new business models.

Bill Warnick, CEO, Solutionz Conferencing
Many organizations have an IT staff without a skillset specific to videoconferencing, interoperability, or video infrastructure that is necessary to understand the crucial advantages of investing in managed services. With our extensive managed services offering, including onsite and remote support, 24/7 help desk, and staff training, we are able to demonstrate the critical role managed services play in a communication strategy, as well as help organizations manage the solution moving forward.