This article also appears on SMB Nation.
As an IT provider, you understand that backups are really just the first step toward something much bigger. A backup without a recovery is about as useful as a computer without a monitor—the data is there, but can you actually use it? But that’s why shouldn’t sell simple backups. You should sell disaster recovery as a service or “DRaaS.” (See “More Tools” below).
The tricky thing is that clients and prospects don’t always see the value in spending more for something they think are “just backups.” In order to help them understand the value in disaster recovery, it’s helpful to have a conversation about what disaster recovery is and what backups are not, and this involves asking some questions.
Below are some of the most important questions to ask your clients about disaster recovery. Remember that your clients may not have answers to some of these questions, so be prepared to help them as you have your discussion. Also note that these questions are not a script, but rather a guide to having conversations that allow clients to see the value of the services you offer.
Do you know which systems are most important to your business?
A web server might be the money-maker for some businesses. For others, the critical one might be an email server, domain controller, or what have you. Identifying important equipment is important, especially as you help clients create their disaster recovery plan later on. For a detailed guide on DR planning, check out our guide: Making Disaster Recovery Easy.
What would you do if your most important equipment went down tomorrow?
This question is designed to bring to light the fact that many companies don’t have a clue what to do when critical equipment goes down. You, on the other hand, should know exactly what to do. With your services, they probably don’t need to know what to do because you’ll handle it for them.
Would you be able to work without your most important server? Would employees?
Few companies have thought about how much they rely on an important server. Some businesses rely on them heavily, some not so much. In any case, a down server will cost a business money, especially when many employees rely on it.
How long can you be without a certain piece of equipment?
When one of these important pieces of equipment goes down, how long can the business reasonably go without it?
How much data can you afford to lose?
“Data” is a somewhat nebulous term, so prospects might not know how to answer this one right away. Explain it this way: if everything is business-as-usual and a system goes down, how many hours of data can you afford to have lost? You can use this question to explain that you can have data backed up as often as they like (as often as every fifteen minutes with some solutions), meaning a business doesn’t have to lose anything more than fifteen minutes of data. This is really a question of recovery point objectives, which we’ll discuss more thoroughly in a moment.
How would you go about getting systems back on track if you had a failure?
This question turns people into deer in headlights—do they know what to do? If not, explain that if they’ve got your services in place, the answer for them might be “I don’t have to do anything.” And indeed, as a provider of DRaaS, it is your job to deal with issues, which is a major benefit to your clients.
What are your recovery time objectives?
This objective (as with the one below) is something many businesses don’t know, so you may have to explain what it is. Put simply, RTO is a measurement of your client’s tolerance for downtime. Once you know what that tolerance is, you’re in a better position to plan the recovery. For a more detailed guide on determining RTOs with clients, read What is RTO?
What are your recovery point objectives?
At its most basic, an RPO is a measurement of tolerance for data loss and it can help you and your clients decide how often they need to be backing up, as well as what sort of infrastructure you need in place in order to support those objectives. For more information on RPOs and how to determine them, read What is RPO?
All of the above questions lead to one big question that really hits hard:
How much money are you losing while crucial equipment is down?
How much downtime costs precisely is something you can determine using a downtime calculator (see “More Tools”), but just discussing these questions is often enough to show clients and prospects that this service is not just “good to have.” It’s a money and time-saving essential no business should be without.
These questions are just a piece of the DRaaS jigsaw. In order to full understand how to sell DRaaS, download our guide Selling Disaster Recovery as a Service. Additionally, this conversation is much more impactful if you can give businesses a dollar figure of how much money they’ll lose while critical equipment is down. For that, we recommend taking a look at the downtime calculator in the appendix of the Selling Disaster Recovery as a Service ebook. This document lets you write in relevant business information for your clients and prospects to determine the cost of downtime as an exact dollar amount. For many, the cost of downtime far out-weighs the cost of disaster recovery as service, which makes your value proposition crystal clear.
Photo credit: Gillian Maniscalco via Flickr