What does a "healthy" MSP Channel & MSP Portfolio look like?


Ray Culver: Hey everybody. Thank you for joining the session this afternoon. I'm super excited about the topic, the session, the panel, just everything about this. So I think for the next hour, we're going to have a lot of fun. This panel is going to be talking about what does the healthy MSP channel and MSP portfolio look like?

Ray Culver: I am joined by just some, I think I said powerhouse here is how on my LinkedIn. And that's exactly what it is. So I'm joined by some incredible folks in the industry today. We'll go around and do some introductions and then jump into the questions. Kelly, do you want to kick us off? 

Kelly Boykin: Sure. We're happy to be here. Thanks for asking me, Hi, I am Kelly Boykin. I am very new with real staffing, which is part of Sthree and I'm the head of the MSP there.

Kelly Boykin: If you want me to talk longer. I can keep going.

Archar Smith: I got an x-ray. Is that what we decided? Absolutely. Hello everyone. Archer Smith. I am with Monument Consulting. I head up our Strategic Alliance as well as holding an engagement lead role at Monument. I've been in space for 25 years since all the gray hair, so excited to be here today. Very timely topic and excited to have a conversation.

Ray Culver: Kunal?

Kunal Gill: Yeah, Hi everyone, my name is Kunal Gill. I've been in the staffing industry for about a little over 15 years. Hence the quick hair loss I spent about seven years, seven and a half years on the MSP side. Managing different contingent programs. And then I've spent the last six and a half years at Aditi Consulting as Vice President of Client Development.

Kunal Gill: Spend the majority of my time identifying new customers that we feel like we can add value to, and then spend about 20, 25% of my time focused on helping build outdoor MSP strategy. So I'm looking forward to the discussion today. 

Tim Tobin: Hey everyone. Tim Tobin here. I am a co-founder of Russell Tobin and Associates, and I lead the search and engage practice here, which is a division within the Pride Health global family of companies.

Tim Tobin: I've been in the industry since I graduated college. So coming up on a quarter of a century, I'm looking forward to sitting with this group of panelists and. Hopefully learning as much as I'm able to share. 

Tim Tobin: Thank you. 

Kelly Boykin: Did you really say a quarter century Tim? 

Tim Tobin: I'm not there yet 

Kelly Boykin: Why you gotta do that.

Kelly Boykin: Why do you have to make all the rest of us feel bad? We're up there with you. We're 

Tim Tobin: working on fractions this year. 

Ray Culver: Her contract deal and I'm Rick Culver. I am the founder and CEO of CWsolutions Group. We are a consulting and advisory firm focuses pretty heavily on the MSP channel. So work with staffing suppliers and staffing partners who are looking to either create an MSP channel from a supply perspective or who are looking to enhance and kind of evolve their existing MSP channel.

Ray Culver: So if you get super excited for this conversation as we start to look at that, and I'm looking over at the questions and make sure I touch on everything as we start to talk about kind of the healthy, what makes a healthy MSP channel and portfolio, I figured we could start with delivery and really the format I figured we would go with just oh, I'll start the conversation with a certain panel member and then we'll just go around to the entire panel.

Ray Culver: So everybody just feel free to jump in with thoughts and questions and that type of thing. So are dropping into the first one to you from a delivery perspective, what are some examples of delivery models that you're seeing deployed today from a supplier perspective? 

Archar Smith: Yeah. From a supplier perspective.

Archar Smith: Yeah. We see a mixture of things. I mean, everything from, you know, suppliers who are very. Pretty much address all of the different channels, the same way as you know, we have some suppliers who use offshore models, on-shore models, hybrid models that combine both we're starting to see more suppliers look to leverage technology, to help stream the process AI and other other technology platforms to help streamline that.

Archar Smith: I think the overarching theme there is, these are things that help, not only from a MSP perspective in terms of how to interact with MSP accounts, but these are things. You know, drive efficiency across the whole of our provider's delivery. So I think that's why we're seeing accelerated growth around some alternate strategies like that.

Archar Smith: So we, we see a mixture the, more of what, from an MSP channel perspective that becomes more effective, obviously that helps overall from an efficiency standpoint, but from an MSP channel perspective, the thing that has more impact is the account management strategy and how those are structured and how they interact with us as an MSP provider on our programs.

Archar Smith: But yeah, mixture of delivery models, right 

Ray Culver: Got it. So if we look at some of those different choices, let's talk about onshore for a second. Because these days we hear so many staffing partners and firms who talk about offshore and that type of thing. So let's talk about kind of old school and talk about offshore and actually in the branch or in the model, how have you seen that structured and Kelly, I'll kind of flip it to you cause I know.

Ray Culver: You touched on that a good bit in the past. So talk a little bit about that onshore delivery model. 

Kelly Boykin: So I'm going to say something so brilliant. You're going to know exactly why you invited me to these panels. Retail business and enterprise business are different, right? You can't treat them the same and the delivery can't be the same.

Kelly Boykin: So many things are different about them. And so maybe we come back to account management because I think Archer, you're touching on something really important there, excuse me, I'm very emotional about this topic. So, you know, apparently I just feel very naturally. If you think about the delivery team, the recruiting team, we can talk about sourcing and then the account management, the recruiting team themselves.

Kelly Boykin: I think the first and most important thing is to make sure that you have recruiters that understand the MSP space, that like the MSP space, if they have been used to a really high touch retail model, that's great, but it is going to be different, but their life is going to be a little bit different. And the level setting of that expectation is important.

Kelly Boykin: They may not have nearly the hiring manager contact. They might have more generalized job description processes going to move slower. So first and foremost, get the right people, right. That know how to do this business. The common theme between retail and enterprise is quality that doesn't change across the board, but everything else changes, once you get to an enterprise situation, MSP situation, speed being very important.

Kelly Boykin: So the recruiters thing too, is that sourcing team that supports them because speed is so important, you could have the best person, but if you're not submitting them for three or four or five, It doesn't matter. Everybody's probably moved on. So you have to have a strong sourcing organization that is feeding the right people and helping build the talent pipelines to those recruiters.

Kelly Boykin: And that can be offshore. That can be leveraging interns who come in and that's their entree into your organization is building talent pipelines and sourcing. That can be using technology any number of things to help build that. But I think those two things along with the account management, which I know we'll touch on a little bit, I think are just really critical in building the right kind of organization, being able to scale it quickly.

Kelly Boykin: Last thing I lied, I said last thing, but it's not that you might have a different resource structure, a different cost structure. You know, I don't know. There's a rumor that MSPs have fees and that sometimes the pricing is it. You need to be able to think through how to do this faster, but possibly with fewer human beings or a different mix of human beings in order to get that done.

Ray Culver: So that I think that there'll be asking, we can talk about this as we go, but you talk about, so we are, you're saying it kind of, where could you infuse tech? So where could you take some of the human touch out of it and then infuse technology today in the market to make it more cost effective, to be able to touch some of that business.

Kelly Boykin: Yeah. And you know, your best recruiters, we want them doing the things that are the most important. Right. And so everyone talks about the technologies. I don't know the secret sauce of what the one or two is. It seems like there are many that can work, but you want those technologies that are going to tackle those administrative very important processes, but there's things that a machine can do so that your best recruiters can really focus on people.

Kelly Boykin: And I think that's, you know, the stakes at this point, we all kind of understand that, but it's easy to say harder to do. 

Ray Culver: Got it. Tim, what are you seeing in your business from that kind of on shore delivery? Mean, look what have you seen in the market as well? 

Tim Tobin: I think Kelly raised a handful of great points.

Tim Tobin: And when you look at where we were two years ago versus today, it couldn't be any more different. The fact that we've had to change our landscape or delivery, it just goes back to looking at the assembly line with a plan, do measure act, come up with a plan, do it measure success or not.

Tim Tobin: And then act accordingly if it's successful, keep with it. If not, go back to a new plan. You know, we just had a great football game, so apologies in advance for all the sports analogies I'll have. And one of the great things about football is they have a plan, a meeting before every single play they huddle.

Tim Tobin: So we really believe in having that type of communication. And when we think about what we were doing previously, we were very opportunistic about a client giving us an opportunity in a new market, or we meet the right Jane or John Doe, and we want to build around them and that location more times than not, it was locally.

Tim Tobin: And we were able to meet with people. We were able to get in front of them. We're able to have candidates come into the office. We were able to build talent communities locally. Well, that has all changed. So again, going back into huddling and looking at the plan, how do we identify the talent that can represent both the candidates and the clients?

Tim Tobin: And then we try to cater to them a little bit and give them an opportunity and a platform to be successful. If they are looking to move. If they're looking for a new job, obviously we'll probably get into a great movement or resignation at some point. But we've been trying to embrace the change that has just been ever constant over the last two years to our advantage.

Tim Tobin: When partnering with clients who are also going through some of the same changes. 

Ray Culver: Got it. Yeah man. That's good. I think so onshore, I mean, it could be in a brick and mortar. It could be in a branch, but could also be like dispersing. Which I think the past two years have taught us correctly that you can have remote teams and recruitment teams and they worked just fine.

Ray Culver: So jumping into, so we talked about onshore, let's talk about offshore. So Kunal talk about some of the considerations or things to think through. If you're going to build that offshore delivery function. What you've seen. 

Kunal Gill: Yeah. Great question, Ray, a really important topic. I think it was Kelly brightly noted, you know, the MSP world, your delivery engine really is everything.

Kunal Gill: You know, they measure you on quality, cost, speed every day against your competition. So I think the first thing it's important to acknowledge is that there's pros and cons to both. And what's really important is to think about your long term strategy, how your business is made up versus, you know, retail versus MSP. Take those considerations in mind you know, before kind of, you know, going and building that out.

Kunal Gill: But from an offshore model there's a lot of considerations to keep in mind. I think first and foremost it's an obvious one to pick the appropriate place. You know, where do you want to have that delivery center? I think the default in our industry, or where you hear a lot is India.

Kunal Gill: They're doing some fantastic work out there. A lot of the large staffing organizations and consulting organizations have their delivery centers there, but there's some other really great areas as well. The Philippines has come up a bit. Latin America, EMEA, wherever it is that you decide that you want to have that delivery center.

Kunal Gill: I think one of the things that's super important is to make sure that you have local management. I've heard some horror stories from colleagues and friends over the years, trying to manage an offshore delivery center from here in the US. And that comes with some real challenges. So I think it's important to identify local leadership, local management there.

Kunal Gill: And to keep in mind when you're, when you have an offshore model, your recruiters are for the most part likely going to work the night shift being your company morale high, and those types of things are considerations. You actually want to, you absolutely want to keep in mind. And then to, I think Archer points early on in the offshore delivery model, absolutely utilizing the tools and technologies that are out there to supplement your delivery.

Kunal Gill: Especially over the last couple of years, there've been some amazing tools that I'd encourage everyone to take the time. I'm sure at the World Staffing Summit, there's some things on the agenda where they're talking about the different tools, but you have tools now that are going to quality checks prior to submission and helping ensure, you know, you're submitting just the best of the best.

Kunal Gill: One of the common issues right now in the MSP world is fake candidates. Which essentially is, you know, somebody showing up to the interview virtually, and then somebody else shows up to the job and they have tools that are being verified identity. Now there's tools that are keeping your candidates warm through the submittal onboarding process.

Kunal Gill: So there's tools and technologies, everything. I would definitely encourage, you know, look at those and invest in those to help supplement your delivery team. And I think if you take those considerations in mind you know, you can absolutely get some great cost savings by starting an offshore delivery team and also can help you scale very quickly as well when your volume starts to increase and your customer base starts to increase.

Kunal Gill: Yeah. Okay. 

Ray Culver: So kind of touching on, because everybody has kind of talked about the pros and cons. So I want to throw it back out to the group, just as we kind of wrap up around delivery for the MSP channel, any pros or cons that stand out to you on either model that we didn't touch on any kind of lasting thoughts that you may want to leave with the audience.

Kelly Boykin: Yes. I'll start. There was a moment of silence. So naturally I will jump in. I think, you on shore, we know that we have more control. We have more control over the quality. We have more control of the speed. We can develop the relationships more connected maybe to the sales team. But the cons are that it's more expensive, right?

Kelly Boykin: And it's harder to scale very quickly, especially if you have peaks and values from an offshore perspective, the concern is always quality and turnover. Can you get the right people? Even though it is less expensive, it's still very expensive. If it's not delivering for you in the way that you want it to.

Kelly Boykin: So that can be really a consideration from a cost perspective, but from the pro side, fairly cost effective and allows you to really scale in a very different way and augment that whole sourcing engine. 

Archar Smith: I mean for me, I think it's looking at it as, you know, the right tool set for the right job and making sure that, you know, you plug whatever the solution is.

Archar Smith: And at the right and appropriate point in the process, because the quality issue is definitely a real one cultural considerations. As you look at offshoring you know, we've, I've set up centers in the past where that wasn't taken into consideration and the culture supports more of a linear progression.

Archar Smith: And we had people who were sending out invites for interviews and sitting and waiting for that one individual person to respond before they moved on to the next one to send out the next invite. So there's just a lot of considerations around as they're all kinds of quivers to help with the overall model.

Archar Smith: The reality is. Talent has won this war. We used to talk about the war for talent. That's over, it's done that talent won, which is a very good thing. But it's making sure that you plug those tool sets in the right places and drive to enhance the process versus replace the interaction. At the end of the day, this is a people business.

Archar Smith: People will never be removed from the process. There needs to be that consideration as you look at sourcing and screening and presenting candidates. 

Tim Tobin: And to add to that point, we had five team members in India supporting our business at the beginning of the pandemic. We now have grown that team to 150.

Tim Tobin: And we look at that obviously for the points that were just mentioned. There are some intangibles that come with it. We have created a more holistic culture in partnership with our clients. So that has. Had a by-product of improved diversity, including diversity inclusion, equity, and belonging on a global scale for all parties, because when we interact and we partner, whether it's nearshore offshore, wherever it's one team, and it doesn't matter where you sit, where the function that you're in, you're on the same team.

Tim Tobin: Leave the sports analogy, outlet, one team loss, because special themes weren't as heavily supported every group is equally as important.

Tim Tobin: And when we think about the concept of the great bonding, most likely that's happening from our firm's going to MSPs or to RPOs and clients, which you can embrace or not, we try to embrace it. But the catalyst for that partnership alignment is the partnership with a nearshore and an offshore solution.

Kunal Gill: Yeah just to, I guess double-click on some of the comments that were made. You know, scaling perspective. I think most suppliers in the industry saw a significant increase in volume last year, really across the border there, especially, but really across the border. Most clients called and picked up.

Kunal Gill: It was heavy in the contingent space. And for us, we actually added 150 recruiters very similar to what Tim was describing to get in front of volume as quickly as possible. You know, we're at 500 plus recruiters now. And to be able to scale very quickly is important. The MSP Archer knows better than anyone.

Kunal Gill: So they'll come in and say, Hey, we're gonna have a project of 50, we're hiring 50 people that need them tomorrow. Right? You have to be able to do that. Proactively hiring a group of recruiters or having a solid base. From a quality perspective. I do believe that an offshore delivery team can still absolutely bring in some really great quality.

Kunal Gill: But you do have to couple it with, you know, different tools and technologies or how you structure your team is really important. I know we're gonna get into account management here shortly. That's an important piece to, you know, maybe the delivery team is doing that first or second level of quality checks or utilizing the technology.

Kunal Gill: And then your local account managers kind of do that final check before submittal to Kelly's point. You have to do that quickly and efficiently because in the MSP world, it's all about quality and speed. So you have to do it quickly. You have to have the right quality. So there's different ways to do it again.

Kunal Gill: They all have their pros and cons, but I think if you do it effectively and properly, we will continue to see this rapid spike in contingent staff, which I believe we will. The ability to scale really comes into play here. 

Ray Culver: Yeah, those are all great points. Great pros, great cons. And I think for the supplier department, the staffing partner, who's out there listening into the session, whether you set up your own offshore center.

Ray Culver: So whether you kind of own this center offshore, or whether you go with an outsource partner, you know what I mean? There are so many options out there. So if you're looking to explore that, I mean, definitely explore everything. You don't necessarily have to open your own center, now, to get it in the very beginning.

Ray Culver: So just definitely explore all the options. 

Kunal Gill: Right. Is it okay if I jump in for one quick time? Tim said, but I think what's really important is when you're off shore, there's the difference between a captive model and an outsourced model. And that I think is a really important thing to consider is that you can offshore and then outsource it to a third party.

Kunal Gill: And that group is just going to be responsible or you can keep it in house and still offshore it. And I think that's important because when it comes to culture, driving culture and having that, you know, that oneness across the various groups, I think it's important in my opinion, to keep everything still under your company, granted not outsource it to a third party and kind of hope things work out.

Ray Culver: Got it. 

Ray Culver: Thank you. Thank you. So going to jump, we're going to kind of move on from delivery. We're going to jump into everybody's mentioned Account Management. So you would think that God seeing the notes let's, we're going to drop into Account Management. Tim, I'm going to start off with you and then Kelly, and we'll circle back to you real quick.

Ray Culver: Cause you kind of mentioned this in your opening when we were chatting. So thinking through account management for specifically the MSP channel, Tim, what are your thoughts on mixing retail business and MSP channel;. 

Tim Tobin: It's simple. You can't tell you how I did that in the beginning. We've done it. We've tried many things, and I think many struggle.

Tim Tobin: And especially now, because there's just so much opportunity there across the board. I think when we chatted, I said, you have to figure out what your identity is and embrace it and lean into it because you, I think whether you're an owner operator or you focus on full-time or contingent, pick a path and really pursue it.

Tim Tobin: So we are of the mindset where we want to do more with fewer and aspire to be a business partner and not just a supplier in the supply chain. That common commitment also helps with the alignment across our organization and how we work with wherever people might sit as a solution that doesn't exist in the retail space.

Tim Tobin: Now, the margins are attractive there. More times than not my history. I do find myself in a position where you are less of a business partner and lack of a better term, more of a necessary evil. Now, again, those that retail business is a nice compliment to diversify your portfolio, but we were intentional last year of hiring a client success team to focus exclusively on certain accounts to make sure that they're the conductors of the orchestra and making sure everyone's playing at the right time and In Retail, it doesn't create that same opportunity.

Tim Tobin: It's usually a much smaller team, maybe a smaller offering, again, greater return, but that orchestra can really sound like a symphony when everyone's playing together. And for me, that's why I get out of that. 

Ray Culver: Good. I'll opt out. So, Kelly, what were you going to go back to how you had mentioned early on it would be to see if you agree with Tim or kind of if you've seen different things or just kind of what your take on that is facing.

Kelly Boykin: Yeah. I mean, first of all, I have learned to always agree with Tim. I mean, it's never gone well, if I've disagreed with Tim. 

Kelly Boykin: I couldn't agree more though, on this point, it was very hard to have those things mixed up. It's hard on everybody. It's hard on the recruiting team, shifting gears, back and forth.

Kelly Boykin: It's hard on your customer. So I absolutely agree that they need to be separate and that you're going to, you're going to grow both better. Tim said it's an important part of the portfolio. You should have both. It's really good to have both kinds of business, but it's very difficult to serve them and take care of them in the same way.

Kelly Boykin: They're very different. Have I said that a couple of times that they're different. I don't know. I feel like my clients 

Ray Culver: Just to push that point home, they're very different, which they are, they definitely are. So Archer, talk to us a little bit, especially from your point of view, from the MSP partner point of view, looking across the supply base, we're looking at across the supplier partner community.

Ray Culver: Talk to us a little bit about what kind of what you're seeing for the best in class account management structure. As it comes to dealing with the MSP. 

Archar Smith: Sure. Yeah. So I fully recognize I've been on both sides of this. I started on the staffing side and I know in a lot of instances MSPs, while it's a three letter acronym, is a four letter word, so I totally get it.

Archar Smith: I think we're starting to see a healthy shift in that dynamic. And part of that is supported by the fact that there's less tension between the parties, right? Because suppliers have become more adept at changing the way that they're interacting with MSPs. We, at the end of the day, want the same thing as our staffing partners do, which is to help a client fulfill all of their needs and make sure that they're able to produce their product or provide their service, et cetera.

Archar Smith: I think historically there's been a bit of tension created partly by the way the account management structure was set up and partly by the conflict, as we mentioned earlier, around fees and kind of the difference in margins that stabilized to some degree. I mean, the margins have kind of gotten to a point where frankly, there's not much left to squeeze out of those. It's not the right strategy anyway, and I have a lot of conversations with a lot of clients about that. From an account management standpoint, the healthy models that we've seen, the ones that become very strategic partners to us are our providers who have addressed some of those challenges in their supply chain.

Archar Smith: You know, everything from how the team's structured to compensation. I always say compensation drives behavior. If I'm sitting there and I'm running a desk and I can make a higher percentage because it's a retail client and I get better markups than I can from submitting over here. I'm probably going to go that path, right.

Archar Smith: If I'm sitting there managing that desk. So it's, you know, it's a compensation alignment. It's a, from a partnering perspective. It's certainly fine to have an account manager who's focused on a particular client, but if you're working a lot with an MSP and you're supporting that MSP on 20, 30 different programs, It may behoove you from an account management standpoint to have a centralized point of contact for that MSP to interact with.

Archar Smith: So on our programs, our program managers and program directors will, and the account managers will deal directly with the account manager in regards to that client. But we have people who are focused on the broader relationship and our supply management group that wants to have more of the holistic partnering conversation.

Archar Smith: And it's really hard to do that. If they're dealing with 35 different people at the provider, it just, you want to look at the overall health of the relationship. Not necessarily you certainly for each individual account. You want to look at the health and the account, but you want to be able to look at it more holistically.

Archar Smith: So centralizing that and having a central point of contact and kind of individuals who know the MSP model, who know how to interact with them, who know kind of the things that we're looking at and are willing to partner around that. And it's a bi-directional partnership. We have to be willing to do it on our side as well.

Archar Smith: That's what we've seen. Be very successful. If you want to have a healthy channel relationship with it, with the various MSPs. 

Ray Culver: Yeah. It's funny. You could pick it up on that. I mean, I, having built and ran MSP channels from the supply side, being able to, what I've seen is it can be a very different skill to have someone who can be very, almost like tactical at the program level and really watch the day-to-day Recs and candidates and all this stuff.

Ray Culver: So you're kind of like you're in the weeds somewhat at the program level. This is on the supply side, but then also having that strategic person who kind of steps up and says, okay, I'm going to have one person who really focuses at the program level tactically in the weeks day to day. And I'm going to have someone who focuses more on going up within the MSP.

Ray Culver: And I may, I think you touched on that. Kunal, I know you, obviously, where you come from. It must be a side. And now you've moved to the supply side years ago, still in supply side. Talk a little bit about that. Like what, knowing that you need to be strategic, tactical, that type of thing. Like what have you seen or what have you created from an account management structure to be successful?

Kunal Gill: Yeah. And I think you know, the first thing it's important to note is that both are essential. You know, you don't, you want to have a healthy balance of both. There's a tremendous amount of day to day activities at the tactical level that you need to be able to do effectively to be a solid partner to your MSP management of the daily positions ensuring quality candidates time sheets and all those different daily questions.

Kunal Gill: Those are things that you have to have a team in place that can answer those questions. In real time. Right? So that's super important. I think one of the pieces that gets missed sometimes, and Archer was kind of touching on this is that strategic side of things. Right. I've seen what I believe is to separate it.

Kunal Gill: So, you know, it's like, how do you structure your team? I think it's important to separate it, where you have an account manager that's managing all of that day to day activity, working with the MSP program level. They have a tremendous amount on their plate as well and building those relationships, but then having that one central person that is going to build relationships at the level of archers and program leaders.

Kunal Gill: Right. And that's not just good for that specific program, but that's what's going to help you evolve and create more business for yourself. You know, when you're, when you're, when all of those things are humming, things can go really well. And what I've seen is, especially in the early stages of someone trying to get their foot in the door on the MSP side, they'll try to have an account manager do it all.

Kunal Gill: And I think that can become challenging very quickly cause there's a lot to it, right? There's a lot on the MSP side and there's a tremendous amount on the supplier side. So my thought process is have recruiters recruit, have your account managers manage that day to day have been doing really well, but then hire that, you know, whether it's a senior account manager or the job title I've seen floating around a lot now is the MSP relationship manager, that one person that's going out and building those relationships, the MSPs rely on us.

Kunal Gill: You know, we have our ear to the street, right? We have market intelligence. We know what job titles are more difficult in specific locations. When you have an MSP relationship manager or somebody that has that information, and they're sharing that info to the MSP, they, you all of a sudden become a lot more valuable and you kind of work your way up that value chain.

Kunal Gill: So where they're coming to you for that information. And as a new supplier, that's kind of getting into this role. You can build that credibility very quickly. That's what's going to open the door for the next account in the next. 

Ray Culver: Yeah. And try to what I've seen is when you're in an MSP program and you kind of build that level of partnership and that level of trust, and this takes it back almost like a rec level, but what you want is for that MSP partner to you be the one that they pick up the phone to when they have a five o'clock order that they know that they have to have filled with, because they know they're com whatever you're going to partner with them to kind of get in that for stats.

Archar Smith: Good point, Ray I've had programs where it's like a zero exception policy on supplier scorecards and knowing the difference between tactical and strategic having that relationship where you can talk to your supplier and say, listen, I know you're going to take a ding on your supplier scorecard.

Archar Smith: Cause we might bring you in. Maybe you're not a primary supplier for this particular panel. We may bring you in the rec may have been open for three weeks. Right. But having that vision and strategy and partnership to know that, yeah, we might take a ding on the scorecard because it's going to be a late hire and there's zero exceptions.

Archar Smith: Those are also the things that become very powerful conversations with the client. Whenever you're doing QPRs and reviewing the supplier panels to say, Hey. Maybe they got to see this quarter because they took a ding on their time to fill. But let me explain to you why that happened and what a good partner they were.

Archar Smith: And that's a difference of the tactical versus strategic, because if you're just looking at it from, I've got to get a good grade this quarter, then you're going to miss the opportunity to be a really valued partner on a go-forward basis. 

Ray Culver: Yeah, absolutely. And when we get to growth strategies within the channels, kind of create a lot.

Ray Culver: We were what we wrap up within a few minutes, but once we get there, it'll be interesting to you. I would love to continue this conversation around, you know, there are opportunities when you look at growing this channel at both, let's say the account manager who's at that program level. And then the more MSP relationship manager, as you mentioned, Kunal at that MSP partner level, like you can really look at both of those positions and consider them growth or sales positions because.

Ray Culver: You know, there's always ways to expand the program. And then there's always obvious ways to expand the MSP partnership. So we can definitely jump back into that, but on the backend, so kind of close that section out. So, and we got delivery, we've got account management where we're clicking along. So now let's look at some people's favorite topics of all the healthy terms and conditions of contracts . We loves contracts. What are some of the non-negotiable items in most MSP agreements? I'll kind of open this up to everybody just because I think everybody's seeing so many MSP contracts, but I mean, what are some of the things that you've seen where it's like, okay, that's just not a coachable, so you don't even try and red line don't even try and push back on it.

Ray Culver: Like these are the areas that it's like, just look past it. Keep going. You want to kick this off Kelly? 

Kelly Boykin: MSP VMs fee. Those are not negotiable. You're welcome Archer for, and typically payment terms are not really going to be either if it's people that's out of process. So I'll let everybody else jump in with more.

Kelly Boykin: But I think those are two things that if the MSP fee is high at time, I'm not going to negotiate that. 

Archar Smith: It depends. But yes, generally speaking, we obviously want to keep the fee where it's at and it's structured that way for a purpose. You know, there are some things that can't flex because of their client driven requirements and they have to flow down to the suppliers.

Archar Smith: And unfortunately, in a lot of instances, those are some of the teeth, your items like indemnification, lol, or limitation of liability insurance requirements. Sometimes there's flexibility around that. Sometimes it's either, you know, absolutely no exceptions or you know, they'll look to us as an organization to assume that risk on behalf of the supplier, which is obviously a risky proposition for us.

Archar Smith: And you know, it doesn't fit well, but there are certain things that are driven by the client that just there's absolutely no exceptions around in some instances. 

Tim Tobin: Yeah. I would just want to pick up on the indemnification. We've seen a sea change over the last few years where the risk has been shifted down to the supply base.

Tim Tobin: But we have assets to protect and look out for. And if it's asymmetrical and that the client, if it's a direct float add on, and the MSP is asking for us to do something that the client isn't willing to do and be in the middle of it, we'll say, thank you, and then move on and appreciate their position.

Tim Tobin: It's just too much risk. And we do understand that how one MSP might have some different language in their contracts, but the proof of concept is there for one, it can be there for many.

Ray Culver: Kunal, anything jumps out. 

Kunal Gill: No, nothing really new to add. Yeah, maybe insurance requirements. I know at times that can be something you could potentially kind of go back and forth on, but I think to Archer's point one thing that's important for the supplier community, and this is me putting my MSP hat back on is just keep in mind and remember that a lot of these terms, it's more flow downs from the customer.

Kunal Gill: That the MSP is not just coming out of nowhere and saying, you know, these are the requirements. It's important to note that, you know, to do business with that end client that some of those things are nothing new to have 

Ray Culver: A Couple of things that I'll add there. One is, I think in going back to account management, as you build that relationship with that MSP and more of the true partnership, I think you, you start to open up conversations where the MSP partner wants to get to know you as a supplier, kind of where your limitations are.

Ray Culver: So they get to know kind of like they could tell you what that red line is going to look like before they get back, because you know each other so well. So I think having that level of partnership and being able to have that conversation before a contractor ever gets put in front of you, it's where you both kind of know what the limitations are, I think is very important.

Ray Culver: And that comes with that level of partnership that we're all talking about. I also think we talked about this in the earlier session. I did be able to know when to walk away, but not all programs are good programs for every single supplier. So, I mean, don't be afraid to say, you know what, this just doesn't work.

Ray Culver: And if, you know, if you can't negotiate the fee or terms or unification, whatever, if it doesn't work, then, I mean, just be very honest with your MSP partner, share why and just move on. I mean, there's no harm in that because it needs to be a good win-win for everybody. So I think those are two good points.

Ray Culver: Kelly, again, I'm gonna come and pick on you cause just cause I know it didn't contract your favorite. Tell us a little bit about some experiences. I know you throughout your career, within the MSP channel, you've worked a lot with negotiating and like really getting contracts to work that maybe wouldn't work for you as a supplier.

Ray Culver: So talk a little bit about that from a negotiation and just the contracts perspective. 

Kelly Boykin: Yeah. You know, we have 114 people in this session. If we talk about contracts for much longer, it's going to go up to five or 10 or 12, but I'll try to keep it as yeah. As exciting as possible. Yeah. Back to my earlier point, this is a different business.

Kelly Boykin: Right. And so I think the first thing is your mindset. If you're going in and you're expecting to have retail terms, you're expecting to hand them your contract and they're going to sign it. That's not going to happen. Right. So you have to adjust your own expectations. They're very complex. They're very frustrating.

Kelly Boykin: You know, a few best practices, a few things to kind of think about number one, You need to get on the same page with your own organization about what you will and won't accept. You know, if you're constantly going back arguing the same point with each contract, it's like Groundhog day over and over, get on the same page about what you are and aren't going to do and streamline it because you know, these 50, 60, 70 page contracts, you can have pages of red lines, right?

Kelly Boykin: So you need to get on the same page about what you can and can't do first of all. And second of all, I think what's very helpful is to go back one time. Go back with the red lines, your walkaways, your needs, your now we can't do business unless he does as short and sweet as possible. If you go back to 20 things, you're probably not going to get anywhere because remember they have to go to the customer and request these things to be changed.

Kelly Boykin: So if you give them 20 and 10 of them, they aren't really that important to you. You're wasting time going back one time rather than every month you've got, oh, by the way, could you also do this? That's very aggravating. It slows things down. They're not going to want to book. So gather all those red lines yourself.

Kelly Boykin: When you are pushing back, it's best to have a live conversation with the people that you're talking to, because so much of this is around your intent, their intent, what that clause actually moves, what they're actually going to do with that. So if you can express what it is that is concerning to you, particularly if you're a smaller staffing firm, if you're a minority or woman owned business, whatever the case may be, explain what the situation is for you.

Kelly Boykin: And oftentimes that can really help. Get your lawyers on the phone or your contract people, when you need to look, they speak a different language. These people are trained to everybody's in a SaaS and everybody's out to get them. And that's why lawyers are lawyers. And my father was one. And so, you know, there's a good purpose for them in the world, but they speak each other's language and oftentimes they can work through something very quickly.

Kelly Boykin: You know, the definition of is they can talk through that and get agreement on one side or the other a lot faster than, you know, emails back and forth and a lot of red in it. And then I guess my final thing is. You need to trust your better partners. John Smith MSP opened up last week. They're probably not gonna get our best terms and conditions and are probably not going to get 90 day payment terms.

Kelly Boykin: But your big global MSPs that you've done business with over and over again, that's a little bit different. And so I'm not saying accept everything that they give you, but I'm saying you do need to think about some of those things a little bit differently. They are vetting these agreements before they even get to you.

Kelly Boykin: They're considering the supply chain before it gets to. And so I couldn't agree more. Not every deal is a good deal. You should probably turn down a significant number of those that come to you. And if they're not going to make sense, that's a better way to go. You do need to make this process as simple for everybody as well, and just know what you can and can't deal with.

Kelly Boykin: And then when you are negotiating, negotiate from a place of confidence. Here are the three things, but we have to have them. And let's talk about why, but these are the things that we're really firm on. 

Ray Culver: That's perfect. And that's great. That's great advice. But yeah, I've seen contracts where I come from in my past, where literally when you got it back, there were early a hundred red lines and you're just like, no, I mean, can't, we pick our top five, like can't we pick the absolute, most important things to us.

Ray Culver: And especially when it's not a hard day, you continue to go back with the exact same red lines to the exact same MSP partner who has basically said we can't negotiate. So I think it does go back to knowing your MSP partner and what you said early on knowing your limits, but knowing your company, talking to your legal team, and knowing what you can and cannot do.

Ray Culver: And if it's an absolute, we cannot do that. And you know, they're not going to move. Then it goes back to maybe this is just not the right program for you. Archer, and I'm not going to put you on the spot. I don't want you to speak in a very general overview of MSP terms. I don't want your impossible up any more than it's already going to.

Ray Culver: Are there parts of an MSP agreement that the MSP typically uses? Does it have the ability to okay or red line or does everything have to go back to the line? 

Archar Smith: No, it depends on how the MSA with the client is written and a lot of instances and their viewpoint on that. And you have to recognize there are several different models of how you engage the supply base.

Archar Smith: There's we're going to give you. The whole source of controlling supplier agreements, all of that, here's the standard terms and conditions that we need from you. Then you have the triangulated model where, you know, we end up with a, kind of a third party payment agreement with those suppliers, and then you have the suppliers who are only contracted with the client.

Archar Smith: There's, you it, a lot of it depends, I mean, know your industries, right? Like there are certain industries where there are just absolute must haves that are in the contracts that are not going to get negotiated out to the points earlier. I think everybody has had some really great advice on the negotiation tactic, and I love Kelly the notion of keeping things down to a minimum from a red line perspective and come in with the differentiation story again if you're a small maybe we be own firm there's sometimes different terms that can be negotiated based upon that, because a lot of clients are looking to claim what I like to refer to as old school diversity spins, which is kind of capturing the spend through a affirm that's owned with that status.

Archar Smith: But if you have a great success at infusing. Diversity equity inclusion and to the supply chain, right? If you're actually looking at the end talent and say, Hey, we've got a great story around us, we've got some great success stories. Or if you're really good at a particular industry, those are the types of things that can come in, you know, occasionally from a fee perspective and other conditions that can be negotiated based upon those nuances.

Archar Smith: And then to the point earlier from Tim, it doesn't set a tone where like the exception is made broadly, but there's a very specific reason why this contract might have different language. But I mentioned earlier the big ones, the ones that always ended up getting fought around and the ones that we fight suggest where, you know, we have the same conversations before we send out the supplier agreements around indemnity, limitation of liability, all of those big sticky items.

Archar Smith: In some cases everything's negotiable. And in most cases, there are things like that are very tough to negotiate. Exceptions can be made, but typically those types of things are ones where we would even if not required by the client would go back to the client to get their written sign off on those exceptions where the, we then were not on the hook for that gap in insurance coverage or the gap in indemnity coverage, et cetera.

Ray Culver: Got it. Got it. Got it. To kind of round out, talking about terms and conditions cause Kelly, like Kelly said, actually the numbers increased though it, because we keep talking about contracts. But so to round this out now, talk to us a little bit Kunal, all about just high level, what are the different pricing structures that you're potentially going to see in an agreement?

Ray Culver: Just for everybody, if you're not in the supply game today, you kind of know what you're going to be stepping in to do. Should someone want to create designs? 

Kunal Gill: Yeah, definitely. I think. In our industry. What I typically have seen as there's really two models, you have your built max bill rate model, and then you have a markup structure.

Kunal Gill: This is, these are the, you know, the pricing models. That's what the question is right on pricing models, correct agreements. So just to kind of explain the two max bill rate models are essentially the, you know, the MSP will work with their internal market intelligence team and identify a specific rate for each job title within each location.

Kunal Gill: And then they'll manage their supply base to ensure that you're not exceeding that max bill rate. Some of the pros of having that model is that suppliers are able to manage their entire portfolio. As we all know, sometimes you get those purple squirrel requests and your margins are shrunk, and you want to get that start.

Kunal Gill: You want to show that you're, you know, you know, doing well in the program and you take it on your margin on one, but you're able to maybe make it up on the next one. So the next build rate model is one that I personally prefer because it allows for a little bit more flexibility. The other model that you see a lot in our industry is the markup structure.

Kunal Gill: And essentially what that means is that you have a pay rate and, now, the rate that you're negotiating with the worker, and then you're only allowed to mark it up to a certain percentage. Now, what that percentage is, you know, is what can determine whether or not you want to continue to participate in the program or not because there are some programs where those margins are shrunk so much where they may not make sense for you, unless you can do a tremendous amount of volume.

Kunal Gill: I think it's important that you can tell me what Ray or Kelly had mentioned, you know, know what you're signing up for. Those things it's really important to go into a program and understand what those numbers are and make sure that you can definitely be effective or not. And then there's other things outside of just those pricing models, two things that come up that we see in RFPs a lot are volume rebates.

Kunal Gill: And then you have tenured discounts. So a volume rebate essentially. Where, if you're doing a certain amount of business with your customer, you'll rebate that back to them. So let's say you do five billion with them. They may ask for 1.5% back at the end of the year after 6 million, it goes up to 2%, whatever, you know, whatever those numbers are, tenured discount.

Kunal Gill: You'll see that a little bit as well. And that's essentially, Hey, if you're on assignment for 12 months and it's a 16 month assignment since you hit that 12 month mark, we're going to reduce the bill rate by a dollar or two to help offset some costs or provide some savings to the customer. So there's various different ways.

Kunal Gill: I think the most important thing is to know what you're getting into beforehand, plan for it, because if you do a bunch of business and at the end of the year, you have to write that check. You have to write that check back. So yeah, really, definitely take the time to know what you're signing. 

Ray Culver: Perfect.

Ray Culver: Thank you. Thank you. So we're gonna move on. Cause we have, if we put about three minutes left, but if we have asked them to go a little bit over, if we need to, but talking a little bit about growth strategies for the MSP channel, we're going to kind of throw this out to the entire group so that we can kind of try and get as much in the next three minutes.

Ray Culver: So growth strategies, when you look at the MSP channel selling to an MSP channel means something very different than selling to a retail client or something like that. So from the group, like how do you ask a big question, how do you sell for the MSP channel? So it can, I'm gonna throw it out to whoever wants to jump in front and kind of take that question.

Archar Smith: Oh, go ahead. No, I was going to say from my perspective and I'll try to keep it brief Ray. It's a focused approach. I can't tell you how and I appreciate it, but I can't tell you how many messages I get that are very generic. They're not tailored. It's just like any other sales effort in that regard, like coming with this very specific succinct message to make sure that message resonates what your firm actually is.

Archar Smith: And what your capabilities are. The last thing that we want to hear, nor do we believe as a general rule of thumb going in is that you can do everything perfectly for all spaces, all geographies, all, everything and recognize that it's a relationship. And I like any relationship that you have, it revolves around the same basic tenants.

Archar Smith: You want to get to a point where there's mutual respect where you're having honest and open dialogue and recognize that in a relationship there's 50, 50, there's give and take. And, you know, there may be instances where you lose some, but you might win others. From my perspective, I think it's very one-on-one-ish, but that's really what it comes down to for me.

Tim Tobin: I was going to say, it's a misdirection question because you're not selling into MSPs. It's all about service. And I think you really need to look at the partnership and the value of the partnership over the price of any given program, because sometimes there's going to be a give and take.

Tim Tobin: I do think the key component here is to build trust with the individual at the individual level and put yourself in a position to be aligned with them throughout their career. Whether it's there or they go into the client sponsorship, cause that's the natural trajectory. But if you build that trust and you can develop the relationship with the PM, or even starting at the CSR level, you're growing that business vertically.

Tim Tobin: And if you are performing and you have the numbers to show it, you're going to grow the business horizontally. So I couldn't agree more that being authentic and having the numbers to show that you are a business partner and get results is going to keep you at the table. 

Kunal Gill: Yeah. From my perspective, I agree with everything that these guys have said and, you know, keep in mind that there's a believer in over 20,000 registered suppliers in the US.

Kunal Gill: They're all trying to get into these programs. Once you're in you're you tell the MSP, Hey, you know, don't add anybody else in, but when you're on the outside of you're trying to get in, right. I think one thing to really consider. You have to perform well at the end of the day, that's what we're here to do, right?

Kunal Gill: We are here to bring in good quality talent at market competitive rates very quickly. That's our core function, right? And if we do that well, and you are investing in the relationship, and you're very honest about what you're capable of and what you will do in areas that you may not do as well. You can take those case studies and go to the next program and the next program.

Kunal Gill: And I think the one thing that just to, you know, talk about this all day, but the one thing that I think is important is to be honest about your capabilities. I'm not going to go to Archer and say, Hey, Archer, we're the best at everything. Sign us up for all the categories. You know, we'll go in and say, Hey, we're really good here.

Kunal Gill: And if you have a need there, we think that we can add value, prove your value for a couple of quarters or a year or so, and then try to expand. But I think that some, sometimes again, from my MSP perspective, A lot of times suppliers will come in and try to get it all in and try to sometimes sign up for things that they may not be great at.

Kunal Gill: And it's okay to say that, you know, we're not good in this area. You'll actually gain a lot of trust and credibility. If you have so many capabilities.. 

Ray Culver: Yeah, Kelly, anything to add. 

Kelly Boykin: I agree with all of them which makes me the smartest person here, because I'm agreeing with all of them. I think the only thing I would add, hopefully, to be helpful that might be more tactical.

Kelly Boykin: I loved the concept of stories. Be able to tell stories of how you've done something successful and extrapolate that to this new situation, but also bring a business case of why you need to be added to this program. You need to know enough about that customer, what it is, what is it they're doing?

Kelly Boykin: What is their, you know, initiative? What is it they're attempting to do? That's Intel, that's market knowledge that also proves that you need to be there so that there's something more tangible than, you know, we just want to be part of the program. So bring intelligence, make a business case, tell stories of how you've done it before.

Kelly Boykin: And then all of the things they said. 

Ray Culver: Yes, be patient. Absolutely. And also like, if you, and I'm proud of her for going to pick on you, if you were to see Archer at a conference and you get five minutes with him, know what everyone said, know your story, know your differentiators? No. If we say, okay, tell me what's different about your firm.

Ray Culver: Be able to really articulate what is different and that type of thing. You know, know what you're really good at because I've seen far too many suppliers who try and do it all. They really don't have that story to tell. And, you know, if you can get five minutes with Archer, just really be prepared to really articulate how you're different to where he's like, you know what?

Ray Culver: I want to have another conversation with you. I can't right now, but let's set something up next week. That's kind of what you're going for is to get that. And then also from a channel perspective, if you have an MSP channel, be very thoughtful in what programs you're in and what programs you should not be in. And if you are underperforming, if you feel like you can't perform well in a program, be honest to yourself, be honest to your organization and be honest to your MSP partner and kind of cleanse through the portfolio, go to the MSP, get out of the programs you shouldn't be in, or that opens up supplier spots for suppliers who can perform.

Ray Culver: That's not a bad thing that creates an opportunity for MSP to be like, this is a true partner. Like, I mean, they got out of the program. I'm going to talk about other programs. So it just kinda builds to that partnership. We are four minutes over any like last minute thoughts or any closing thoughts from the group,

Ray Culver: Actually we'll go around the horn. Kelly wants to put you on the spot? Any kind of closing thoughts? 

Kelly Boykin: Oh, gosh, things that we haven't said already, you know, I think what I would just reiterate maybe one more time is it is a partnership we're not less than, we're not better than it is, needs to be a two-way mutual street.

Kelly Boykin: It's about the relationship. It's about communication. MSPs are humans. I know that's shocking, but they are, and they want to be respected and have a relationship with you. It's really not that complicated. If you kind of boil it down to that, do a good job in the programs and be a good person and then be a good partner.

Ray Culver: Sure. Archer 

Archar Smith: No I couldn't agree more. I was going to express a very similar sentiment. We want the same thing that you guys want. We, as a philosophy, like to run our programs and kind of a medium touch model where there's some facilitated contact with managers in end users versus no touch.

Archar Smith: Cause it works a lot better. Our goal every day is to add value to the process, to make sure that we provide you guys well-qualified wrecks. And it is a partnership and we very much look at it that way. But that, that, that takes time. That takes effort, that takes you know, both parties, commitment to that.

Archar Smith: And know that we're not the enemy. We're not here just to squeeze out all of your margins. That's not what we're trying to do for our customers. 

Ray Culver: Perfect. Tim, 

Tim Tobin: I'm going to try to keep it as brief as possible. I have a lot to add here. 

Tim Tobin: There's no barrier to entry into this industry and yeah. That can be both good and bad.

Tim Tobin: So recognizing the fact that it exists, and you look at the concept of this call and itself, this is an ecosystem and we are contributing to the ecosystem. It's not zero sum. We were adding value and leaning on each other to move others forward and more times than us by a by-product. So I would suggest and encourage you to lean into your authentic self.

Tim Tobin: And I love the fact that it is at the forefront of where we are as a society. And that's not always the case. So being able to do that by also managing expectations with your partners and putting yourself in a position where you can exceed them while utilizing subject matter experts, to be in a position where they can make plays happen is going to get you in a spot where you'll be able to be consistently relied upon in a position to then grow that market vertically and horizontally.

Tim Tobin: It all goes back to being your authentic self.

Kunal Gill: Yeah, it's hard to go last at this current time. Those are all great points. You know, first and foremost having the opportunity to have worked on both sides, I think don't fight the MSP. If you want to get into this business line, really commit to, you know, being a good partner with a partnership piece, you guys have heard everyone say it today.

Kunal Gill: It's so, so important. And be patient. This is a very competitive industry. It's very difficult to just all of a sudden grow your MSP business. You know, you get that opportunity to do really well, you know, really think about that delivery model, invest in the partnership, investing great quality to have that with that partnership, you can absolutely start to then grow.

Kunal Gill: So I think if you're open and honest with me. You treat everything like a true partnership. There's no reason you can't start to see that success. So, at the end of the day, anything, I think that the one that is partnership is definitely perfect, 

Ray Culver: Perfect, Good deal. Thank you to this panel. Thank you to everybody for being a part of it.

Ray Culver: Just conversation. I think I love this conversation for the audience. If anyone wants to connect with the panel, LinkedIn they are all here to answer questions, our talks already by your inbox. I owe you something. But I mean, everybody is here to connect and answer questions and just talk about the channel and how it makes it better and grows and things like that.

Ray Culver: So you are truly looking at some of the best in the industry today. So again, thanks everybody for being a part of the panel and have a great afternoon. 

Archar Smith: Excellent. Thanks.


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Kunal Gill

Kelly Boykin

Tim Tobin

Archar Smith

Ray Culver




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