How hard can reselling cloud solutions be? You just promote them like any other product, right? Not quite. Many businesses like you are already offering cloud solutions in answer to their clients’ requests. So, if you aren’t already, it’s certainly time to include cloud solutions in your offering. But you need to be certain that you’re truly cloud ready. There are six keys areas you need to consider, to ensure you market your new cloud offering successfully.
1. Efficient order processing
There are aspects to handling orders efficiently: process, tools, and automation. This can impact several departments. Financially speaking, check whether you have the correct metrics, reporting, and ROI formulas to effectively measure the success of your cloud business. On the operational front, you need to ensure the systems are in place to process orders and invoices.
One notable difference with cloud subscriptions is in order placement. The term “evergreen” was coined in the early days of cloud, to describe orders for ongoing services, consumed and billed into perpetuity. But this requires that your system is able to track a single purchase order for a client (and future add-ons) for years, and generate invoices each month. This “one-to-many” purchase order (PO) to invoice requirements is a huge step-change from traditional on-premise, one-to-one PO and invoice processing.
For more information about financial implications and billing tools that can help you become cloud ready, check out this article.
2. Protecting intellectual property
Shifting to a services mindset is key to staying profitable with this new business model. You can improve your bottom line by innovating how your customers or sales teams work.
The profit-making holy grail is creating your own Intellectual Property (IP) through a unique solution that fills a gap in the current market. There are several examples, particularly in the Microsoft partner ecosystem today: BitTItan, Akumina, SkyKick, RapidStart CRM, and MessageOps.
You need to take time to evaluate if that kind of approach is right for you in the long run. It may not be suitable if you already have a robust service offering that competitors can’t beat.
3. Managing customer lifecycle
Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM) is the latest buzzword. CLM is an important part of acquiring new customers and retaining them within the cloud services model. Identifying what this means to your company and how it translates to job roles and responsibilities is key to long-term success.
To manage CLM properly, you have to start from the beginning. A good approach can be to leverage two different roles within your existing sales team: the business development reps and the account managers.
The business development reps find and sign new accounts in their territory and are paid on net new business. The account managers come into the equation once the implementation team takes over, installing the solution to the client. The account manager becomes the regular point of contact with the client, paid on renewable business, up-sell/cross-sell opportunities, and the number of client touch-points they provide. It’s down to them to keep the customer engaged.
4. Providing cloud 101 for everyone
Before you can market your cloud offering successfully, people need to know why cloud is important. Training is critical: employees may see cloud as a threat to their job, with the IT department worrying that they’re less relevant, the sales teams anticipating cuts to their remuneration, and accounts dreading having more invoices to process. They need to understand why the wider business is making this transition.
It’s vital to communicate a compelling corporate vision in any cloud training to ensure people understand why becoming a cloud-ready organisation ultimately secures a brighter future for everyone.
5. Becoming ready for selling cloud
OK, so you do all that and now have the systems and understanding in place to sell cloud. So far so good. But without specific sales training will your reps be able to deliver results? Your sales teams need vital training before they attempt to sell cloud solutions on the front lines. Are there new and untapped sales opportunities – for instance, the “S” of SMB?
Your clients have changed their approach to budgeting for IT solutions. Now, scaling up or down in infrastructure and applications can take minutes instead of days. Your business development team has to be clued up, because it’s their job to educate the client. And account managers need training to understand the cloud sales process so that they can meet new customer needs. Plus, they need to know how to capitalise on cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.
6. The right incentives
Within a new cloud-first mindset, you need to pay close attention to keeping employees motivated. There’s no universal approach and many different incentive models from monthly commission on deals in perpetuity to lump-sum upfront payments.
Other cloud-first sales models encourage reps to prioritise cloud over on-premise solutions. A hybrid approach might be to apply sales goals to both, but with a greater reward from selling cloud solutions. Whatever strategy you apply, you’ll need to make constant adjustments over time.
Of course, getting truly cloud-ready is a complex undertaking. The six areas outlined above are just intended as thought starters. As an early adopter, you can connect with your peers, broadening the understanding of best practices, pitfalls, and mistakes to avoid when truly becoming cloud ready. You can also book a consultative session with your cloud aggregation partner (distributor) like Tech Data.
Leverage Tech Data’s comprehensive Cloud and Next-Generation technology portfolio, with the Cloud Solutions team. By gaining access to our commercial and technical enablement, end-to-end services and multi-cloud management, we’re putting you in control.
If you’re an existing partner and want to learn more about Tech Data, or if you’re looking for a valued partner to help accelerate your business, get in contact with your local team today.