1 Cloud Strategy - Transforming Your Approach To Business The cloud is a game-changer and moving to the cloud means transforming the way you sell and do business today, as David Ednie, President and CEO of SalesChannel Europe, explains Disrupt or be disrupted. The cloud is a hugely destabilising and disruptive force in the IT market. It changes everything for resellers and for buyers of IT applications and services. In particular, it moves us right away from that whole linear sales process which we have all followed for so long. Instead it puts control into the buyer s hands. Instead of simply taking a product or a solution to market and pushing it through the funnel through the stages of awareness, consideration, decision-making and then finally, buying it is the user that drives the whole cycle. A number of trends are driving this most of all BYOD. Buying power is moving from the commercial strategy-makers to the individual. Instead of B2B, we are moving to what s much more of a B2C market, one in which every user wants to make their own decisions. What you have to do is make sure that you understand the buyer s journey and adapt your approach accordingly.
2 The Buyer s Journey First of all, you need to make sure that they can find you but then, crucially, you need to differentiate what you have to offer. This is absolutely crucial. In the cloud world, it s a very simple choice in fact you differentiate or you die. If you simply offer exactly what everyone else is providing, you won t last long. You also need to make sure that you can offer great service, management and support after you have made the sale and this is much more important with the cloud than it is with the old linear model. In the past, when you sold a system or software, you would only usually have to intervene when, or if, it went wrong. With the cloud you need to be on top of the service delivery full-time. Service is not only something you need to focus on in order to keep customers in the cloud market it s your most important selling tool. Most new business will come from recommendation marketing, you need to migrate from models that are product or license sales-dependent, to one that is focused on service. The cloud purchasing cycle does not look that different from the one for products today but it is different because it s the customer that s driving the process. And the decisions that are made because they are being made largely by individuals are often instantaneous and emotional. We are witnessing the emergence of the Corporate Consumer, the
3 individual in the organisation who buys the cloud service to solve his problem or get his job done. Every buyer will still buy by searching for the options. They will then qualify, evaluate, purchase and activate a service. If you want them to buy your service, you will have to clearly demonstrate the value it is going to deliver and set yourself apart from the competition. But the process does not finish with the activation of a service in fact that s only just about the halfway point. Customers then need to be able to manage their service and if you do that well, there may be opportunities to up-sell the customer to a higher level of service and eventually, to drive referral business through them. Eventually, if you get enough referrals, enough users, widespread adoption of your solution is going to be irresistible. Crucial moments You can also think of this cycle in terms of moments in which decisions are made; during the search and evaluation stage, there are now or never moments; in the acquisition phase there are make or break moments; in the management and support stage, there are keep or lose moments (that s why it s important to get service levels right); then finally in the referral period you get the multiplier moments. It s in these moments that decisions are made that will make the difference between success and failure for your cloud business and those decisions are typically going to be made on the basis of how you differentiate your business. You need to do this not by being different for the sake of it but by delivering great service and a great customer experience. Of course, you need to shout about that during the search-try-buy phase of the cycle but it s what you deliver that really counts. Deliver on service and customer experience and you have more to feed into the next buying cycle. Exceeding expectations You will need to not only meet but exceed expectations and you will, as I mentioned earlier also have to think much more about the customer and how they see you and what you are offering. You ll need to put yourself into their shoes and come up with value propositions and messaging that will appeal to them at an emotional as well as a practical level. You need to make sure that, in those crucial moments when decisions are made, the chances of them going your way are maximised. You will need to use social media as well as traditional marketing and sales methods and turn customers into supporters and fans of your business people who are prepared to go out and shout about how good you are. That s why it s so important to give the customer the best possible experience because in the cloud world, service is everything and if you don t carry customers with you, you won t make progress.
4 Adopting this new approach means making changes to your business. If you don t you won t survive in the cloud market. Jack Welch, the former head of General Electric and management guru, once said: When the rate of change externally is greater than the rate of change internally, you have a problem. Things are changing fast out there right now and IT businesses that provide systems and software today have a choice to embrace the changes now, before they are forced to embrace them. There will be no other way ahead. The cloud is here to stay. According to the latest IDG Enterprise Cloud Computing Study, 34 percent of IT budgets are already spent on the cloud and that is only going to go in one direction, up! You can go with it, or you can try to swim against the tide. It won t be easy to transform your business but you need to do it or face the prospect of rapidly becoming extinct. Cloud Services GTM Business Consulting is a great place to start. It enables you to move in the direction you need to and move at a pace that suits your business. It provides you with access to the sort of information and resources you will need to accelerate time to adoption in order to accelerate time to revenue. As they say where I come from, the best way to reach the beach is to ride the wave. My advice is to engage as quickly as possible, to start the transformation now, so that the pace of change in your organisation is faster than the one taking place in the market right now. By acquiring the knowledge you need and aligning your sales process to the buyer s journey, you can become a trusted advisor to your customers moving to the cloud. Do that and you
5 have every chance of profiting from change in this exciting and dynamic new era of the Cloud. David Ednie works with clients to Accelerate time to Revenue by accelerating time to adoption of Cloud Services. SalesChannel Europe specialises in the areas of Business Execution, Top Team Performance, Go-To-Market Strategy and Sales Performance Motivation. For more information contact: David Ednie SalesChannel Europe (FR) https://twitter.com/saas2sales skype: davidednie362