cloud computing

Selling the Cloud? Prepare your partners for the transformation

By: Snehashish Bhattacharjee, Global CEO & Founder, Denave

We have all been witnessing the transformation that the new age cloud born companies are bringing forth. As the world moves from conventional products to cloud-based products and services, the selling methodology needs to evolve proportionately. The buyer sensitivities involved are very different and therefore the selling technique needs to be that much more consultative in nature. There are many fears associated with the cloud and security takes the lead. The seller’s deep understanding of the pain points can help in evolved conversations, thereby increasing the chances of closing the sale.

Cloud improves mobility since enterprises can upload various applications on the cloud and provide them as services globally. When enterprises espouse a culture of agile, data-driven decision-making, it gives them a competitive edge. This is especially important for sales teams as customers today are far more empowered and knowledgeable. Hence, it is imperative that sales teams recognise the tools and techniques that will aid in improving productivity, enhancing sales and delivering value. Cloud solutions are highly beneficial for an enterprise and its sales force as they facilitate real-time communication, real-time collaboration, assisted context and information, remote and secure access to assets, and increased cost savings with a “pay-as-you-use” model. However, cloud companies and their partners must be wary of the growing competition and the challenges associated with retaining customers.

Make them believe that a change is required
One size does not fit all. To prepare your channel partners to drive the change, they first need to believe that this is truly a transformation. Old methods may not always suffice the new age needs. And therefore, it is important to not just understand this change to its roots, but also prepare themselves with solutions that are relevant and acceptable. Remember, moving from a conventional service model to a cloud based service model requires a behavioral change. If your partners are themselves not comfortable with this evolution, their selling effectiveness will be doubtful.

Understand the roadblocks
Once the belief is built, it is important to educate the channel force on the roadblocks that they will face on the way to glory. The biggest roadblock could be the partner’s own disinterest in selling cloud services/ products. The only way to tackle this is through effective training and also showcasing the opportunity that lies ahead. With more and more conventional companies also now moving the cloud way, the only way for success is to adopt the change and move with it. Well-designed training programs and a strong guidance can definitely come to rescue.

The next biggest concern could be the customer’s perceived roadblock of data theft. It can be an uncomfortable proposition for many companies to move all their sensitive data to cloud and not have prime (and only) control over it. The way to overcome this would be to showcase the advantages that come along without compromising on data security. Cloud enables real-time on-the-go decision making and that is a proposition that most businesses continue to miss.

Cloud is already a competitive market place. Price points are extremely varied and the competition is intense. It is therefore wise to prepare your selling pitch in a manner that brings forth the edge that your product/ service offers with a wise comparison to the nearest competitors. It is important that the cloud channel partner identifies the specific needs of the customer and focus on the KPIs that will add immediate value to their cloud deployment.

View it holistically
In the cloud era, the conversation with the buyer does not end with that sale being closed. The conversation needs to be nurtured beyond that as well since driving consumption is as important to ensure relationship continuity. The requirement is to ensure that while the purchase happens, the usage and thereby the consumption is also an absolute focus.

Having realized the risks in customer acquisition, providers have to prepare their channel partners to identify the most profitable customers in the market. The first step in the process is to identify the short-term and long-term goals of the customer. After identifying these goals, they can go to market with a handful of questions that will help them design an outline of the cloud deployment and its potential impact on the customer. The channel partner should be able to put himself in the shoes of a customer and ask the questions which are likely to be raised by the customer: “When will the cloud deployment start paying off?” “What immediate benefits it can bring to the firm?” “What cost benefits does it offer over traditional models?” “What is the USP of the provider?” etc.

For selling in the cloud, is it about improving the ecosystem preparedness. One of the primary challenges the cloud sellers face is that the messaging to the customer is not consistent from their partner ecosystem nor are the ecosystems services aligned to supporting cloud platforms by way of providing apps on cloud. Readiness programs including communication engine, readiness engine and engagement engine is of prime importance here. Sales models are evolving rapidly, creating next wave of opportunities for cloud providers; and undoubtedly, cloud provider is the key enabler of this transformation.

The knowledge and experience in driving consumption in this market is an absolute key in order to target incremental and consistently growing revenues. If you are an organisation that’s focusing on selling and driving cloud consumption, you need to absolutely partner with experts who can become your extended sales force to increase awareness, drive readiness in the ecosystem to help faster adoption, drive activation, grow usage and finally drive consumption.

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