There’s probably no business in the world, big or small, that’s not utilizing cloud technology in some form. From a proof of concept barely referred to as “the cloud” in the 1990s, it’s currently a USD$150-billion industry, with eight big names accounting for 80% of the market share. The market will only keep growing as investments keep coming.
Now is as good of a time as ever for cloud service providers (CSPs) to be pushing their products and services to their clients. However, there’s a proper way of doing this—the cloud should appear more of an asset than a liability. This article will go into the steps to build a win-win cloud sales strategy.
1. Get the right people
This step may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s not just about hiring well-trained salespeople. An industry expert stresses the need to include consultative sales executives, account managers, and solution engineers in sales planning. This sales team composition strikes a balance between making a sale and offering practical solutions.
How a CSP forms this team can be in one of two ways, which that expert simplifies as “teaching an old dog new tricks or getting new dogs.” Training existing staff is viable for CSPs that focus on selling solutions or consulting services. On the other hand, forming an entirely new sales team works for those that need to improve their business acumen.
Either way, a reliable sales team will make the rest of the steps easier, starting with choosing the appropriate sales strategy template. The needs of cloud sales don’t vary much from those of most sales activities. They benefit from the four core pillars: targeting, qualification, process, and talk tracks, all of which every member can adequately identify.
2. Focus on late adopters
The next step entails determining the target audience for the cloud sales strategy. By this point, the cloud is no less a household name. Even the non tech savvy have a rough idea of what it is or how it works. A maturing cloud market means focusing sales efforts on clients recently jumping onto the bandwagon.
While marketing to early adopters enables CSPs to tap into 40% of total cloud service revenue, late adopters will account for 85% of demand within the next several years. Among them, most will seek to reduce business disruption, having learned the benefits and risks the early adopters have experienced. They’re also more concerned with legal compliance.
When looking into maximizing revenue, consider targeting safely conscious clients that have spent over USD$10 billion in cloud integration. This group consists of businesses that manage highly sensitive data but know how to balance security and growth. Then again, they can quickly shift between aggressiveness and caution, so better take such traits into account.
3. Sort through the shortlist
With late adopters being a vast market for the cloud, it’s easy to say that CSPs will have plenty of opportunities to close deals. However, not everyone will necessarily share the same level of enthusiasm. As such, there’s a need to narrow down the already-focused list of prospects to those who’ll benefit from cloud services the most.
In this case, the sales strategy should include a prequalification mechanism for the sales team to use. Provide a list of questions, preferably yes-or-no-type ones, to help paint a clear picture of a client’s needs and how effective the cloud can fulfill them. Experts recommend that the queries be along the lines of business growth, information technology decision-making, workload, and economics.
There should also be a set of questions depending on the type of cloud service that clients want. For example, in prequalifying prospects for infrastructure-as-a-service, ask them if they’re:
– Running programs on on-premise servers
– In need of scaling to accommodate growth
– Constantly worried about legal compliance
– Looking to prevent disaster damage
4. Prioritize customer retention
No matter how promising it appears, a cloud sales strategy that would blow a CSP’s budget won’t be worth implementing. That’s speaking not from a cloud sales perspective but from doing business in general. Studies show that attracting a new client is five times more expensive than keeping an existing one loyal.
In planning their strategies, CSPs should lean more on adding value to their solutions in the long term. One practical approach is ensuring observability, developing apps and instruments based on user experience. By introducing features that consider the user’s mindset, CSPs can foster richer connections with their clients.
Developing a successful cloud sales strategy involves deviating a little from typical business norms. The broadness of cloud technology justifies having a more targeted approach in promoting a CSP’s solutions.