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SMBTN Releases Autotask Template November 16, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits, Finance, IT Business, Marketing, Tools.
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Just a little over a month after announcing that it would standardize on the Autotask platform, the SMB Technology Network has officially released its new template for the platform. This release is just a starting point for us. We are committed to making consistent improvements to this platform that integrate industry best practices and SMBTN partner offerings into a professional services automation platform that fits the needs of our membership. Currently, the SMBTN/Autotask Platform offers the following:

  • A customized Autotask Template for SMBTN Business Members
  • Integration with a variety of Managed Services platforms, including hosted Kaseya from Virtual Administrator, Level Platforms, N-able, Zenith Infotech and others.
  • Integration with SMBTN’s Virtual Assistant partner, TelAssistant.
  • Integration with SMBTN’s Outsourced helpdesk partner, Cloud Services Depot.
  • Integration with SMBTN VitalSigns Financial Dashboard by CoreConnex.
  • Integration with the latest release of the SMBTN Community Toolbar.

SMBTN also understands the importance of integrating its member’s websites and marketing functions into their back office operations. With this in mind, SMBTN has begun working with Pronto Marketing on Autotask forms integration which it hopes to have available for its members in the first quarter of 2010.

Finally, SMBTN will also host its own forum on the SMBTN Community for peer support, sharing best practices and gathering ideas about future improvements to its Autotask platform.

Pricing for the SMBTN/Autotask platform starts at just $99 per month for a single user (through the end of the year) and includes Autotask Pro with the SMBTN template, Outlook integration, Client Access Portal, Quickbooks integration, Corelytics Lite Financial Dashbaord and the SMBTN Community Toolbar. For more information, visit the SMBTN Community or contact SMBTN Member Services.

Technology Marketing Made Simple November 16, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in IT Business, Marketing.
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If you’re like most of us, your To Do list is long and clients come first. Marketing tasks like updating your website or putting together a newsletter always seem to be something you’ll do “next week”.  This is why we are very pleased to announce a new alliance with Pronto Marketing. Not only will they take care of your website and newsletter but they will do it for an affordable monthly cost.  Derek Brown, the CEO of Pronto Marketing, likes to think of it as “Managed Services for Marketing” but prefer to call it “marketing-as-a-service.”

Whatever you call it, Derek is the guy to deliver it. What makes him so special? Well, let’s start with the fact that Derek spent over twelve years at Microsoft, many of those leading the Windows SBS Product Marketing Team and visiting SBS user groups. Prior to his time at Microsoft, he held technology marketing positions with Tech Data, some software start-ups and value added resellers. Thus, Derek knows both our channel and its marketing challenges extremely well.

What’s unique about Pronto is their focus on execution. We’ve all got boxes of marketing materials from vendors or programs we’ve signed-up for and big plans gathering dust back in the office somewhere. If this sounds like you then I invite you to take a moment to check out Pronto Marketing and see how they can get your marketing on track for a very low cost.

The complete Pronto online marketing program is only $247 per month – but the SMBTN Business Member discount price of $197 saves you $50 per month.

  •  Professional Website–Based on the WordPress platform and customized to meet your business requirements and branding. We proactively update your website each week with new content or as you request. In addition blogging tools are integrated right into the website.   
  • Original content – our team of writers and editors create compelling content for the newsletters and website – we don’t repackage other content.
  • Monthly e-newsletter–We manage the whole process including your offers and news and all production and list management.
  • SEO and Analytics–Placement in local directories, optimized for local search and reporting on email and web
  • No Term Commitments & No Hidden Fees–Pay as you go month by month and cancel anytime. Our price includes all design and content, updates, hosting and emailing fees – everything.
  • Learn More–Get the details on the SMBTN Community.

In these times, we all need to be looking at ways to grow and strengthen our businesses. Hence, I strongly encourage you to check out what Pronto has to offer.  However, nothing is more reassuring than the successes that other SMBTN members have had with Pronto Marketing:

“It all starts with a filling out a simple questionnaire and in a short period of time you have a something that is customer ready with minimal effort on my part. I can now focus on what I need to do and that is helping my clients solve their business issues.”

Alan Helbush, MCP, SBSC –  Where To Start, Inc.

“Pronto Marketing is fast, efficient, well-organized, professional and does great work.  Our newsletter and website development have been a terrific success.  Pronto makes us look great and we would be happy to recommend them to others.”

Eric A. Adkins, CTO – Adkins Technologies

We are also working on new integration between Pronto Marketing sites and the SMBTN/Autotask Platform that will permit you to capture information about visitors to your website in your Autotask PSA software. We hope to have this ready in the first  quarter of 2010.

For more information about the Technology Marketing offering from Pronto Marketing, please visit the SMBTN Community or the Pronto Marketing website.

SMBTN Previews Social Network for SMB IT Providers October 2, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits.
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The SMB Technology Network (SMBTN) previewed the beta edition of the SMB Technology Network Community, a social network for SMB IT providers, at SMB Nation today.  The new network will include forums, online communities, blogs, online chat, resource information and member profile information. Visitors may preview it at http://community.SMBTN.org. “While we still have some work to do, we think it is a great start,” said Jim Locke, president of SMBTN. “We hope to get a great deal of feedback from the community on the features, communities and resources that will make this a valuable tool for them.”

“I really think that the SMB Community will like what we have planned. For example, SMBTN affiliated chapters, will have the ability to post information to their own online community, host their own forums (which we plan to integrate with Twitter and LinkedIn), and be able to send weekly or monthly e-newsletters with minimal effort and at no cost to them,” he said.

The release is accompanied by the beta release of the new SMBTN Community Toolbar which is integrated with the resources found on the SMB Technology Network Community and has been updated to include new partners, tools, news feeds, podcasts, online chat, and much more.

Interested members of the SMB community may join the SMB Technology Network Community without delay by visiting http://community.smbtn.org/?xgi=7Qf8Lax by Sunday, October 4th, 2009. At that time SMBTN will begin moderating membership to ensure the privacy of its members.

SMB Technology Network Now Offering Standardized Managed Services Platform for Members October 2, 2009

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Autotask LogoThe SMB Technology Network™ (SMBTN) today announced it can now offer members a turnkey suite of solutions, including managed services, customer relationship management and billing, all standardized on Autotask’s IT business management platform. SMBTN has established partnerships with Autotask Corporation, Reflexion, OwnWebNow, Virtual Administrator, Cloud Services Depot and Speakeasy, making it possible for SMBTN members to purchase a pre-configured suite of services at a significant discount.

After several months of development, SMBTN president, Jim Locke, is pleased to offer members the consolidated product suite. “The needs of our members are best served by a standardized offering in which we can share best practices and experiences through a common application suite,” Locke says. “We have done the difficult work for our members and integrated various components and structured a best practices methodology to drive immediate ROI to our community.”

As part of this customized suite of managed services solutions, SMBTN members can purchase a single seat of the Autotask Go! Special Edition for SMBTN. This special edition, coupled with the other services offered by SMBTN, will allow members to immediately market, track and bill customers for managed services. SMBTN teamed up with Autotask to form a preconfigured database template with suggested services, workflows and price points, which is preloaded into the special edition. Autotask will also provide In-depth training and support, as well as a free copy of the Corelytics™ Lite, Autotask Edition financial dashboard to all SMBTN members.

netCIO Adds $5000 To Bottom Line with Hosted VOIP Solution September 20, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Partners, SMB Nation.
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netciovirtual50Jeff Adzima of netCIO in San Diego, California, was looking for a voice-over-IP solution that he felt confident about recommending to his clients and would  enhance his bottom line. Specifically,

I was looking for a VOIP solution that was easy to sell, works as sold, makes sense for the client, has easy onboarding and easy transitioning from the old and has good client support on the back end. Speakeasy delivers it all. The bonus is the commission structure for SMBTN members. I get 10% monthly of the total service I sell, plus an in house system with the same savings. It’s kind of a no-brainer.

The result of his affiliation with SMBTN and Speakeasy was an addition of approximately $5000 in recurring revenue that was added to netCIO’s bottom line in 2008. Best of all, under the terms of SMBTN’s agreement with Speakeasy, netCIO will continue to receive these commissions for as long as their client continues service. Speakeasy offers the same commission structure to SMBTN members throughout the United States on DSL, T1, Business Ethernet, SIP Trunking, Hosted VOIP and more. “The average SMBTN member engaged in our Speakeasy program, earns about $450 in commissions each month,” according to Marilyn Locke, Member Services Manager for SMBTN.

However, we all know that none of this makes much difference if the service is lousy or you can’t get the support you need when you need it. Jeff says his clients have been very happy with the service they received from Speakeasy but we wanted to know what his personal experience has been like. Here is what he said:

It’s excellent. They are with you every step of the way. They send me demo equipment that I can bring to the client and setup and they will do a webinar at the same time. Their engineers are awesome and step you through the setup. After support is as good with instantaneous email and phone support.

Are you interested in adding some recurring revenue to your bottom line? If so, you have a great opportunity to get certified to sell and install the Speakeasy VOIP solution in a single day (usually a 2-day class) at SMB Nation on October 1, 2009.

Register TODAY for Speakeasy VOIP Certifation Pre-Day

SonicWall Reinstates SMBTN as a Silver Partner June 11, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Alerts, Benefits, Partners.
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After reviewing our corrected sales figures from Securematics and some conversations with management, Sonicwall has elected to reinstate SMBTN’s status as a Silver Partner, effective July 1, 2009.

In the interim, Securematics is recommending that you call SonicWall to obtain an special price authorization (SPA) on orders for equipment and subscriptions that you need to place. While SonicWall is under no obligation to grant these requests, they are aware of the situation and appear to be granting most (if not all) SPA requests made by SMBTN members to get them to the proper discount level.

We appreciate your patience in this matter and are extremly pleased that we got it resolved in short order. Many thanks to Ian Greenberg of Sonicwall and Lisa Hansen of Securematics for their hard work on behalf of the SMBTN membership.

SonicWALL Benefit Update May 15, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Alerts, Benefits.
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We were recently advised by Securematics (our fulfillment partner for Sonicwall products) that Sonicwall has changed SMBTN’s partner status from Silver Partner to Approved. At this point we are not clear on the reason for this modification. We are working diligently with our representatives at Securematics to rectify this issue and have submitted updated sales statistics to Sonicwall that document the contributions made by SMBTN members over the term of our relationship. 

Historically speaking, it was Sonicwall who proposed this partnership to the SMB Technology Network nearly five years ago and it has been wildly successful. In just the first quarter of 2009 (despite the current economy), SMBTN members sold over $46,000 of Sonicwall products and services to their clients. Hence, we hope to resolve this matter with them quickly in a manner that is beneficial to all parties.

We will continue to provide you with updates on this matter as they become available. In the interim, I encourage you to voice your concern about the program with your representative at Sonicwall or Securematics or post your comments here. If you have any specific questions about this matter, please do not hesitate to contact SMBTN Member Services.

SMBTN Offers E-Folder November 20, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits, IT Business, Partners, SMBTN, Tools.
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efolder-logo-imageNext week, the SMB Technology Network will begin offering e-Folder to its members. Guest accounts for interested members will be available on Wednesday, November 26, 2009, along with pricing information. Our eFolder web portal may be found here. To pre-register for a guest account or to obtain pricing information, please e-mail SMBTN Member Services or call them at (888) GO-SMBTN.

SMBTN members can choose to deploy either the standard SMBTN branded eFolder client or can have their own branding created and refelected to their customers. Watch for more information next week!

SMBTN Health Benefits Program is LIVE! November 20, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits, Partners, SMBTN.
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association-health-programs-logoSMBTN members will now receive savings up to 40% on Health Insurance, Life Insurance, Disability Income, and Long-Term Care Insurance and More!

The SMB Technology Network is pleased to announce new health benefits programs, exclusively designed for our members.  All members who participate in these programs will receive special premium rates and enhanced insurance coverage for yourself, your family or your company. These benefits can be extended to part-time and full-time employees of your company, as well.

We are pleased to offer significant association value to our members on programs including:

• Health Insurance
• Student Health Insurance
• Life Insurance
• Long-Term Care Insurance
• Disability Income
• Critical Illness
• Cancer and Accident Policy
• Dental and Vision
• And More!

To take advantage of this tremendous membership benefit, visit the SMBTN Association Health Programs website and fill out the online form.  An Association Health Program representative will contact you with a free, no obligation quote.  Or call them toll free at 888-450-3040. 

Programs are contracted through nationwide A-Rated insurance carriers, as rated by A.M. Best and are offered by SMBTN in conjunction with Health Benefits Professionals & Association Health Programs. Rates and availability may vary by state.

This truly is the best program out there and it is made available exclusively for SMBTN members!  With savings of up to 40% and the current economic conditions, I have already called to get my quote. Find out how you can benefit from this membership program today!

Best Practices for Using ReImage November 20, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits, Partners, SMBTN, Tools.
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Get a 3-day Trial of ReImage FREE!

A couple of weeks ago, we introduced a new relationship with a company called ReImage. ReImage is a software tool that promises to repair broken Windows XP installations in as little as 30 minutes.

I have personally run the tool on 25-30 machines over the past month with great success and have come to rely upon it as a first response tool for issues I encounter with XP. Like most tools, it is not perfect and won’t correct every issue. However, after working with it for this period of time, I have come up with some best practices that should assist you, when you decide to give it a try.

  1. Run ReImage from safe-mode with networking or its boot CD. If you are using a remote support tool like LogMeIn IT Reach or Rescue, you can still run this tool by first rebooting the computer into “Safe Mode” and then reconnecting with it to make the repair.
  2. ReImage is an ActiveX control and must be run from Microsoft Internet Explorer. It currently does not support Firefox and Beta versions of Internet Explorer.
  3. While I often run ReImage in its Autofix and Reboot mode on computers that are really messed up, I recommend that you run it in standard mode for most systems and review the Analysis report before making any repairs. ReImage will disable startup applications it is not aware of and gives you the option of bringing them back at a later date using MSConfig. A cursory review of the analysis report permits you to uncheck those programs that you do not want disabled and provides you with other important troubleshooting information.
  4. If you are running ReImage on a machine that you suspect is infected with a rootkit, run it from the boot CD.
  5. Temporarily turn off any antivirus software while running ReImage, as the product contains AVG antivirus. When the initial repair is complete, I recommend that you reenable your regular antivirus software and run a full scan of the hard drive.
  6. ReImage won’t help old/weak PC’s that are laden with a lot of legitimate memory resident programs (e.g. Skype + ICQ + Miranda + Yahoo + MSN + AV + Anti-Spyware + Firewall + Windows/Google Desktop Search etc).  In such a case the hardware itself cannot support the load of so many programs.
  7. Reimage will indicate a slow HDD (which can indicate an HDD on its way to die) and low RAM. Paying attention to such warnings (written in red) shown by Reimage can be a key to find the problem, even if Reimage itself cannot (obviously) fix it, it can still diagnose it.
  8. Fixing 3rd party programs (anything that is not a part of Windows XP) is limited to scenarios in which an unhealthy OS causes a 3rd party application not to run well. However, in many cases it’s the 3rd party application is faulty and it is not the OS, so Reimage won’t help.
  9. When the PC is connected to a faulty network. A normal LAN is always advised, Wi-Fi is a greater risk. A firewall/gateway with strong content filtering mechanism MAY harm Reimage by altering the communication with the ReImage server. However, most of my clients are running SonicWALL TotalSecure firewalls with all the bells and whistles and have had no issue.
  10. PCs that suffer from spontaneous blue screens/ reboots while working/ idle are highly recommended to be fixed using Boot CD only. If spontaneous blue screens/reboots keep happening in Boot CD then it’s a hardware problem that must be addressed first. (Boot CD does NOT work in “from CD” mode. Only “from ramdisk” mode)
  11. Known issues with HDD (bad sectors etc, corrupt file system etc). Bad sectors are the time to replace the HDD. Corrupt file-system requires first running ChkDisk and making sure all is back to normal.
  12. If you have any issues, contact Technical Support and they will assist you. We have had great luck with them. They are good listeners and are very receptive to the feedback offered by SMBTN members.

The thing I like best about ReImage is that it meets the first criteria I have for SMB IT consulting which is “first, do no harm” (sounds familiar, huh?). Before it makes any repairs, it images a copy of all the files that it plans to modify so if you have a problem with a repair, you can restore the computer to its original state. It also does not effect user data.

We expect to announce a great program for SMBTN members that want to use ReImage within the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you have ideas about enhancements to the product or are having issues with a trial that you are having any difficulty addressing, please contact SMBTN Member Services and we will get you in touch with the right people at ReImage.