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Call Theory Braindump - Issue #2

Patrick Labbett
Patrick Labbett
This year I moved heavily into doing Managed Services for call centers - a step-up from the break/fix and consulting I was already doing - but more inline with my core competencies. It’s also less time consuming (and less risky) than surviving by selling custom software development.
I (personally) find it easier to course-correct when working on infrastructure than refactoring software applications and features on the fly - something which bit me last year so I stopped doing it altogether.

Balancing the force
There were some obvious gaps that I had to fill to provide up-to-snuff baseline services for clients - things like anti-virus licensing, remote monitoring and management, backup/disaster-recovery software, and hardware purchasing - to name a few.
While I’ve enjoyed many of the benefits from partnering with organizations like Dell, Microsoft, Huntress and others - I’ve also found that a majority of these partner programs protect the interests of the reseller and not the end-user/customer.
As an Managed Services Provider (MSP) we have a lot of leeway over the pricing our customers get especially as volume increases - which makes sense - but it favors sales volume and revenue above the end-user experience.
I’m not sure I know what way is better, but as a small company serving other small companies, it’s very off-putting.
An example in one Act
Let’s look at a recent example:
A customer asks for a laptop quote - something to replace their every-day driver. A simple - and common - request for small organizations.
I am an Authorized Dell Solutions Provider (United States) - but I am not authorized for Direct Purchases - meaning any hardware I wish to quote out has to go through the following process:
  • Register the customer through the Dell Deal Registration Portal (DRP)
  • Register the customer contact through Dell DRP
  • Add an Opportunity for the customer/contact within Dell DRP
  • Add the product(s) for the customer to the Opportunity
  • Fill out data about customer (size, purpose, industry, potential)
  • Submit for approval for a distributor to price/bid
  • We finally get pricing here! and work with customer to approve
  • Approve one of the bids and request fulfillment via DRP
  • Wait for fulfillment and delivery to customer
  • Perform normal onboarding/asset configuration
This process - in “a nutshell” - is nuts. It really only makes sense to do for large projects - like storage/networking/server/VDI infrastructure - something that fewer clients are doing since cloud platforms have matured so much.
So, wanna buy some Dell?
Did I convince you to purchase hardware through Call Theory?
No - that was obviously not the intention here. So let’s walk through why I’m going through all the work, frustrations, and disappointment of becoming partners with these different organizations:
Because my customers want access to tools that they otherwise would not be able to direct purchase due to partner requirements.
That’s it - that’s the whole reason.
That being said - it’s a good reason. And I have found some products that I rely on heavily in my own personal and business environments through this process. So, I guess it’s a net-positive for customers and myself.
Man-In-The-Middle Attacks
If you don’t know me well - I’m pretty outspoke against things that I dislike. And the entire partner program ecosystem feels like one giant MITM attack on the sales pipelines of small businesses.
So while I offer many of these vendor’s products - I do try my best to minimize the partner benefits in favor of the end-customer experience - for pricing, availability, and access - generally leading to a lower cost at the same or better feature-set than customers find available elsewhere.
I will never make my business about reselling another company’s products as a major revenue generator - but I will make those products available to anyone who wishes to utilize them in their business.
Braindump #2
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Patrick Labbett
Patrick Labbett @calltheory

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