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4 Steps to Better Cloud Sales

In my last column, I discussed the different types of cloud channels: ones you create yourself and ones that you leverage. Simply put, if you create a cool product and want to deliver it via the cloud, you need to create your own channel. If you decide to partner, then you need to find a solution that leverages the cloud. In either case, selling becomes critical and focusing your sales team in the right direction becomes paramount to your success. Here are some ways to make sales work within your particular channel.

  1. Change the Sales Mentality. Plain and simple, sales people are motivated by what's in it for them. The benefit for the customer in a cloud model is in utilizing a service on a monthly basis. Income for the reseller comes monthly, not at one time -- contradictory to the motivation of the reseller's sales people, who want a big commission check, not smaller ones. While the company may make out great by having lots of recurring revenue from customers, sales people may shy away from selling this approach. How do you overcome this? Several resellers have developed compensation plans similar to what the insurance industry employs. The reseller gives the sales rep a bigger up-front cut of the deal, with smaller recurring commissions that spread out over time. The salesperson then has incentive to build a book of business. Whether you're pushing your own product or leveraging a vendor's channel program, reconfiguring your compensation model is very important. To get sales people even more energized, throw them spiffs for customer acquisition. This will provide an additional layer of incentive to get new customers -- increasing monthly billing for your company.
  2. Align Missions. Recently, I advised a vendor on establishing a relationship with a reseller. On the surface, it looked like a perfect fit. The vendor offered a cloud-based solution and the reseller had an established managed services practice that incorporated several cloud solutions. Unfortunately, adding the new vendor into their stack of offerings confused the sales staff. On one hand, the staff was tasked with selling the umbrella managed services and whatever was included in it. On the other hand, the sales folks now had another solution to sell. When the sales people met with customers or prospects, there was confusion over what to sell, so even though the new solution was better in many regards than some of the solutions in the managed services portfolio, the sales people still sold what they knew the most (not the new vendor's offering). My point is that the solution provider/reseller needs to clearly articulate offerings, and, if necessary, fold offerings into clear packages. Doing this will align the sales people to the offerings, making the offerings much easier to sell.
  3. Create Easier Marketing Tools for Sales. I cannot think of any other time in history where sales people have so many different technologies to sell -- especially sales folks in reseller companies. This can get very confusing to say the least. Weidenhammer Systems, a regional solutions provider in the East, developed a concise "case study" document around a new cloud-oriented disaster recovery solution focused on small to midsize businesses. This tool outlined the problem Weidenhammer faced as a company, the reason the company picked the solution and how the company easily integrated the product as a line item into everyday sales. You should develop tools to outline what the cloud service could mean to your customers or to other resellers.
  4. Create Cloud Sales Specialists. Because sales people have so many technology offerings, I suggest creating a sales specialist for your cloud offerings. This person would be solely responsible for sales of your offerings around the cloud and become your internal evangelist to help the other sales people recognize opportunities that otherwise would go unnoticed. The big benefit of this approach is that the evangelist will be focused on the cloud and won't get distracted by other offerings and short-term incentives.

About the Author

Keith Lubner is Chief Business Strategist at Sales Gravy, the sales acceleration company, and managing partner of C3 Channel, a global consulting organization focused on channel strategy, design, enablement, outsourcing and training for growing companies. For more information about Keith, visit www.c3channel.com, www.channeleq.co or www.salesgravy.com.

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