Many partners (VARs, MSPs and agents) fall into the common trap of working too much in their business and not enough on their business. Working in the business means putting out fires, making sales calls and managing employees. Working on the business is taking the time to assess your current situation, and the changing marketplace around you, and developing strategies to help your business match the changing demands of the market.
In our industry, cloud has been the great disruptor. At a talk we recently attended at the CompTIA ChannelCon event, Tiffani Bova of Gartner talked about the three different classifications of partners (VAR, MSP or agent). She refers to them as “swimlanes”, and they are (to paraphrase) the legacy partner focused on legacy technology, the hybrid partner that is straddling the line between legacy and converged/cloud, and the “born-in-the-cloud” partners. Her message was, to survive and thrive, partners that don’t have the benefit of being born in the cloud need to implement strategies immediately to make it from the legacy swimlane to the hybrid swimlane.
It’s one thing to sell cloud solutions (i.e. IaaS, computing, storage, disaster recovery, application hosting) as a channel partner, but it’s entirely different to do so in such a way that potentially disrupts your market, makes you stand out from the many new competitors, and provides unparalleled value to the end-user. To achieve these goals, cloud partners must be armed with a truly comprehensive cloud selling strategy.
If your cloud strategy is lacking because you don’t have the right tools to outshine your competition, you might need a new approach—one based on sharp product knowledge and deep technological expertise.
A stellar cloud selling strategy is comprised of not only advanced solutions that can mostly sell themselves, but also in-depth marketing, training and sales tools that enable you to add value to your sales conversations and, ultimately, accelerate the purchasing process.
With the cloud market at large poised to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14 percent for both public and private usage during the next five years, there is no better time than now to hone in on your cloud strategy to ensure you can rapidly gain market share. In fact, IDC predicts that by 2019, cloud IT infrastructure spending will grow to reach $52 billion—45 percent of the global IT infrastructure spend—representing a dramatic increase from the market’s projected $32 billion spend for 2015. This type of growth presents a great deal of opportunity, but it also means the competition will be fierce and that you need to be positioned strongly.
So, it pays to understand the movement and growth of your market, but it really pays for your sales representatives to understand how to strategically leverage specific resources in order to make more informed sales decisions so that your company can thrive in this time of convergence and cloud-domination. After all, when it comes down to it, your cloud solutions are only as attractive to your customers as you make them. Let’s dig deeper into the must-have requirements of implementing such a strategy.
To understand value propositions: Part of becoming a disruptive cloud partner involves communicating your value proposition suitably—with impact and urgency. For example, if you’re a partner that was born in the cloud, your value proposition must be centered on this fact. After all, there’s a massive competitive advantage to launching your business during the cloud era, whereas some of your biggest competitors claimed their stakes years, perhaps even decades, before its advent. But it would seem that many partners have trouble solidifying their value proposition. In fact, according to a recent survey, the No. 1 area of improvement designated by cloud partners for 2015 is in selling the value and differentiation of their products. In doing so, you can have more impactful conversations with prospects and avoid run-of-the-mill pitches they’ve most likely heard a hundred times.
Access to sales tools: As a partner, to actively make a difference in your cloud go-to-market strategy, you must have access to sales enablement tools, marketing and technical support. After all, your sales reps can’t be expected to relay the immense amount of technical advantages associated with cloud-based IT infrastructure—such as reduced in-house management and flexibility—without adequate training and support. This is why it is of paramount importance to partner with a master agent, distributor or service provider that has enablement tools that will empower your sales team, like a mobile app that can be used on the go in order to reference market research, data sheets, customer information and product information. This way, your reps will never be without support and can sell with confidence and knowledge at all times. Tools such as this put you in the position to fully leverage your cloud solution portfolio to stay competitive in today’s market.
Your Solutions Must:
Provide a smooth cloud transition: Many organizations are just getting on the cloud bandwagon, lagging mainly due to the fear of transitioning from a legacy IT infrastructure and/or telecommunications system. This means your product portfolio must be representative of a number of dynamic cloud service providers that can ensure a fully supported and seamless transition. Specifically, offer consulting services like a cloud readiness assessment or strategy validation to make customers feel more at ease before making the grand transition. It’s important for clients to be able to test the waters—by assessing the situation at hand and the measures that need to be taken to ensure a painless integration—so they don’t feel pressured by the transition and, ultimately, gain trust in their provider.
Avoid downtime or data loss: The second greatest fear beyond the transition itself is the possibility of incurring downtime and losing data as a result of the cloud integration. Consequently, it’s time for a quick evaluation: Do the providers you represent offer an all-in-one solution for disaster recovery? Do they have a zero tolerance policy for data loss and downtime? If you’re hesitant to answer “yes” to either question, then your cloud provider already isn’t doing all that it must to make it in this ever-advancing IT ecosystem. Your providers must be steadfast in its ability to offer seamless, secure, reliable cloud solutions that enable customers to feel assured they’re in good hands for the life span of their businesses.
So are you going to be just like any other competing cloud partner, or are you going to make a killing with a fail-proof strategy? The choice is yours. For more advice, click here.