First, I can’t believe it’s already October!  How did the end of quarter treat you?

Enough with the niceties.  Time to get back to doing what I love most.  Giving people my opinion of things!

We attended #CDLive2015 under the banner of our new solution provider company, Everywhere Managed.   While it was one of the smaller events we’ve attended this year, I saw some things that I really liked.

First, there were no vendor breakouts.  All contributing vendors collaborated with solution providers on panels, so there were no sales-focused hour-long power points to sit through. (The term I heard most often was “no speeds and feeds”.) Buzz at the bar was everyone appreciated the approach.

Content was anything but fluffy.   The kickoff keynote was by Josh Linkner, who I’ve had the opportunity to see at other events.  He gives a great talk on reinvention, and it laid a good foundation for the show.  I appreciated the investment in a professional non-channel keynote speaker — was actually very surprised that an event that size would have recruited such a big name keynote!  The next morning’s kickoff was delivered by Ryan Morris of Morris Management Partners. I enjoy Ryan’s mile-a-minute cadence, and find his presentation style invigorating.  There were many slides I had to take pictures of to revisit later.  Good news?  They were great and I really wanted to review them.  Bad news? It was, and I don’t feel ashamed to say it, a little over my head.  I could have handled it dumbed-down a notch.

Something I really liked?  The speakers, including Ryan, were totally accessible throughout the event.  Nobody was whisked off the stage into their waiting car to catch a plane.  If you had a question about something shared on stage (and I did), you could walk right up to that speaker at the social events or sessions and ask questions.  A larger event doesn’t afford you that luxury.

My favorite session was the Comptia state of the channel discussion.  Very matter of fact, identifying the ten highest growth areas that MSPs and CSPs should focus on to become more profitable in the coming years.

growth

It also drove home something we preach here:  Everyone is a decision maker.  Companies need to focus on all points of entry into a prospect company in order to win business.  The CEO is not the only buyer in the SMB market.

The more intimate event allowed for real engagement on the tradeshow floor – as a company that both attends and sponsors channel shows regularly, I was really impressed by the interaction of the attendees with the vendors at booth time.  I think quite often the attendees forget that the event is made possible by the sponsors, and no engagement means progressively leaner and leaner events year after year.  Want a hosted bar?  Go visit the exhibitors at every event you attend.  If you keep engaging, they’ll keep paying for the free booze.

The exhibit hall started mid-day instead of end of day, which I appreciate.  It’s great to be able to chat with people before you’re totally burnt out from 8 hours of sessions.  The event was well-paced.  It’s safe to say this event was organized by people who’ve heard every complaint in the book from both attendees AND vendor sponsors, and they went out of their way to eliminate all of them.  This was the least “stay up late and get super trashed” event I’ve been to all year, and it was great to see everyone at the breakfasts.  (Which were good, by the way.) There was some chit-chat about event food here – the gist of which was “you can have the best sessions in the world but God Forbid you don’t have bacon at breakfast”.  (See my previous note on attending the exhibition times. Want bacon?  Go talk to the sponsors.)

There was a great mix of solution providers there.  At my pool-side table after the social functions finished and the cigars came out we had the founder of a 1MM 2-person MSP (nice!), the owner of an MSP Mentor award-winning MSP from Australia, the CEO of 120MM CSP,  a vendor or two and several other solution providers of varying sizes.  It made for lively and interesting conversation, as the event truly fostered a sense of “we’re all in this together, how do we all get better” collaboration.

Best of all? At the end of the event, we all received a USD $500.00 Visa voucher for attending — which I can’t spend in Canada, so I’m looking forward to a little shopping next time I’m in the US!  Ahem, Corona Cigars in Orlando, anyone?

I expect this event will have no trouble attracting more attendees and sponsors as it grows.  My only request?  A more central location.  There was absolutely nothing within walking distance of the hotel.  I don’t go off-campus often during events, but if I need a bottle of aspirin (that isn’t $20 at the hotel gift shop) or I feel like a night cap at a bar with some local flavour I like to have the option without needing a $30 Uber.

So, what’s up next for Managed Sales Pros, you ask?

Well; next up we’ll be joining Autotask for a few of their Sales Acceleration Boot Camps!  Join us in Dallas on October 06, and in Irvine, CA on October 15 to learn how to increase your MRR by selling FSS.  I’ll be speaking on how to effectively pitch both managed services and FSS.  I’m just one of many participants, and there’s lunch and a cocktail party to boot.  These are free events, and you can register for them here:  http://www.autotask.com/events

Then, get ready, because it’s almost time for the event we wait and plan all year for – ITNation.  It’s almost here.  We’re ready.  Are you? Want to win an Apple Watch for doing (almost) nothing?  Watch our website over the next few days to see how you can win an Apple Watch without even having to talk to one single sales rep.  That’s right, around here you get your Apple Watches for nothing and your chicks for free.  (Dire Straits Reference)