Should you put your MSP’s name on the products you sell? Or are you better off selling products with the vendor’s brand?
In “Branded vs. White Label: Which is Better for Your MSP,” a panel of industry veterans offered their opinions on debate. The discussion at MSP Expo 2022 was moderated by Gary Audin
Using vendor-branded solutions lets you benefit from that branding, marketing, and advertising. Using branded products also provides you with full access to the manufacturer’s customer-service platform.
On the other hand, putting your company name on white-label products increases your own brand exposure. It also allows you to upgrade the product more seamlessly.
“Ultimately, I don’t think either is easier to sell,” said panelist Wojciech Wieronski, chief technical officer at Viirtue. “It just comes down to how good of a salesperson you are.”
Wieronski said MSP owners deciding whether to start a white-label branding program should ask themselves two questions:
- What’s the barrier to entry?
- What’s the onboarding process?
Panelist Mike Geller, systems architect at RadWare, voiced a different opinion. “White-label is easier to sell, you control everything,” he said. “If there’s something wrong with the product, you can fix it right away.”
Geller said the decision to switch to white-label marketing boils down to whether you have an addressable audience that generates sufficient demand. He said MSPs must carefully consider three issues before going white-label:
- Ownership. Do you have enough control to implement white-label?
- Monthly recurring revenue. Does MRR benefit from going white label?
- Profit margin. Can you retain your 50-70 basis-point profit margin?
“Branded is less risky to sell,” said panelist Frank Seltzer, channel chief at ConnectMe Voice. “With white-label, your name is on it.”
But, running a white-label shops gives you more control over the customer experience, he said.
On the other hand, Seltzer said relying upon the vendor for product support is riskier that offering the service yourself. When you are able to solve the customer’s problems in-house, “You appear as a superhuman to your clients,” he said.
“The question is, how much control do you want over your processes,” said panelist Kevin Masse, CEO at QuestBlue. “Sure, white-label branding provides you with more control, but also more responsibility.”
“How good is your technical team?” Masse asked. If you’re understaffed, lean toward branded: “Try to find an MSP who will come on the phone with you,” he said. “It’s hard to find.”
When shopping for branded products to resell, do your homework, Masses added. “Don’t just talk to the executives; Hang up and call the support line, too.”
Masse pointed out there is a white-label option that can offer the benefits or branding and vendor support for more complex needs.
“Offer Tier 1 and Tier 2 customer service, the simple stuff, and contract with your manufacturer for Tier 3 tickets,” he proposed. “Your customers are not going to know.”
There are several key factors and what's clear from the disucssion is there is no one right answer. Every MSP must make the best decision for themselves so they can most effectively capitalize on the market opporutnity driven by the growing demand for MSP services.
Edited by Erik Linask