During the last week of February, I had the opportunity to attend Channel Partners in Las Vegas and spoke with dozens of data centers and managed service providers. I was pleased to see that cloud was the common theme of presentations and the topic on everyone’s mind.
We all know the opportunity that cloud presents and it has been repeatedly ingrained in our minds that we must include cloud in our services or risk being left behind. Most of us are already convinced, but the interesting discussions at Channel Partners was about how to be successful in selling cloud services.
Keys to Selling Cloud Services
So what is needed to successfully include cloud services as part of your product portfolio? I found the observation from AMI Partners interesting. Ryan Brock noted that their successful partners focus on learning the intricacies of the sales process as opposed to the technology. Most of us get into entrenched with technology because we like it, the software, the hardware and creating new functionality. But most of us don’t wake up in the morning thinking about the overall sales process. Cloud is different than many of the other products that most of us have adopted in the past. And the sale of cloud services is different too. The decision makers may be different and the value proposition is certainly distinct.
Successful partners need to put as much effort, if not more, into their business strategy than on implementing the technology as differentiation is key. The definition of your product offerings and value proposition help define your customer base. Effectively marketing to this customer base will drive more leads and provide a growth path for your cloud business.
For companies entering the cloud space for the first time, it was suggested that significant attention should be given to transitioning your business as a whole. Successful partners are not dipping their toe in the water, they are diving in headfirst. The three most important steps were:
Create a cloud team that is dedicated to defining the solution and meeting customer needs.
Create a strategy that aligns cloud services with your business.
Allocated marketing funds to promote the offering and educate your customers.
Finding the Right Partner
Finding the right vendor to partner with was also a large topic of discussion. Vendor support was the highest category of concern for new cloud entrants. While large cloud providers (Rackspace, AWS, etc) were presented, the audience suggested region/local cloud providers. These providers are easily accessible and many provide a full spectrum of support staff ranging from technical to marketing. Partnering with a provider that aligns with your business strategy provided the best results.
Reflecting on these discussions excites me. It seems we are past the investigation phase and moving into the implementation phase. Partners are no longer discussing whether to offer cloud but how to be the most successful at doing so. At Appcore, we have been championing the business of cloud computing since 2008 and the ideology of ‘local cloud’ seems to have resonated with the market. Overall I’m looking forward to the cloud landscape for the year to come.