Partner Spotlight: General Networks Corporation

General Networks Corporation in Glendale, California is on a mission. Their goal: To use technology to provide value and lasting change.

While this is a pretty broad directive, General Networks’ divisions— Professional Services and Managed Services, each have their own unique way of providing that value. Whether the customer wants to keep their IT systems on-premises or in the cloud, General Networks provides solutions for customers that value their own data and their employees’ experience with technology.
The benefits of embracing the cloud”

Embracing the cloud has made it easier for the General Networks team to add value by speaking with clients about IT’s responsibilities. “We talk about the various places you can put your business in that spectrum of ‘I want full responsibility and control’ on one side, and ‘I want zero responsibility for my infrastructure and support’ on the other,” Jeff Baker, Director of Technical Services Sales shares.

On the side of zero responsibility for infrastructure, Jeff finds that people want to talk about the cloud. How does this impact our organization? What are the dollars and cents, and how does that compare to what we might pay for on-premises licensing?

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Usually the numbers favor moving to the cloud. When it does, the volume of Office 365 migrations that General Networks has completed makes them stand out from their competitors. “We’ve done many, many migrations,” says Jeff, “including 76 since we switched to using the SkyKick Migration Suite in 2014.”

The SkyKick Migration Suite makes migrations easier

Since they first started helping clients migrate to Office 365, General Networks has always used a migration tool.

“We vetted SkyKick through our technical team, and they asked us to make the switch,” Jeff states. “The tool is better. It helps us complete migrations more quickly and efficiently, and makes it easier for us to monitor the process to ensure success. Now, I hear from our engineers any time a client requests us to use anything other than SkyKick. ‘Can we not do that, please?’”

It’s not surprising that General Networks’ engineers have such strong opinions. After all, one of the things that sets General Networks apart is its ownership. Thanks to their ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan), employees have a strong stake in the company’s success. This long-term versus transactional viewpoint makes even more interested in using the best tools possible to get the job done.

SkyKick’s Migration Tool has many benefits

Jeff has seen that using SkyKick benefits everyone involved. For General Networks’ clients, SkyKick minimizes the impact of the migration on their operations. Knowing they’ll avoid interruptions and down time makes clients happy. Plus, thanks to the SkyKick Outlook Assistant tool, the small amount of interaction that end users must have with the migration process goes smoothly—even for those who are extremely technologically-challenged.

“For us,” notes Jeff, “SkyKick makes things go faster and smoother. This has given us more confidence going into sales meetings with prospective customers. Once the migration is underway, SkyKick gives us easy-to-use dashboards showing how things are going at each step. When customers with internal IT departments want to keep an eye on it, it’s easy to give updates along the way. Without SkyKick we probably wouldn’t be able to provide satisfying answers.”

General Networks also appreciates the way that SkyKick’s pricing structure enables them to bundle it in and give customers a set price per mailbox moved. They can lay out the process, responsibilities and basic timeline, and present it in a way that the customer doesn’t see the cost of the tools and services at all. This bundled price per mailbox is presented as “a black box,” says Jeff. “You’re either in or you’re out.”

General Networks has standardized on SkyKick Cloud Backup, too

The General Networks team first decided to sell an Office 365 backup solution because they realized that data can be lost in Office 365. They chose SkyKick Cloud Backup after trying it out internally. “Our Director of Technical Services liked how simple it was,” Jeff recalls. “It’s easy to configure. Easy to find what you want to restore. Easy to do a restore. Easy to license with the customer. In short, it’s simple and effective.”

In terms of selling backup to their customers, Jeff observes that “There’s a sense that Microsoft handles everything around data protection and security. Yes, they provide a certain level of protection based on license type, but it doesn’t meet every organization’s acceptable level of risk. So we have that conversation. Here’s what Office 365 does for you. This is what is included with the service. And here are the things we can do to address any shortcomings.”

Selling cloud backup services

For those clients that choose to purchase SkyKick Cloud Backup, Jeff sees that the main perceived benefit is as an “insurance policy.” Clients get the peace of mind that comes from knowing their data is being properly backed up and will be available if anything goes wrong. While the value is in using it, like any insurance policy you always hope the need does not arise!

For General Networks, SkyKick Cloud Backup does more than just provide a recurring revenue stream. It allows them to provide additional value. “Even if they don’t buy,” Jeff explains, “just having that conversation that backup services exist allows us to show our expertise. We understand the space and the limitations of Office 365. We are the experts who have turned over every stone to help our customers navigate the process of moving to the cloud.”

Advice for other MSPs

Jeff’s advice regarding how to successfully sell SkyKick’s products is to present things as a bundle. “When you obscure the individual costs,” Jeff observes, “you can provide your own stamp on things and appear to be more of an expert. ‘This is everything you need to make Office 365 work as effectively as your on-premises system did, and here is what it will cost.’”