How to capture cloud business

Opinion John Campbell
Mar 25, 2015

Some helpful pointers for a pain-free move to the cloud...

Last week, John Campbell discussed what benefits a reseller can expect by adding cloud services to their portfolio. Here he provides some straightforward steps to those making the transition.

The demand for cloud-based software is real and growing yet, as I wrote earlier, many resellers are missing out on this opportunity.

But building a profitable cloud services businesses is not something to be feared. In fact, there are some simple, straightforward steps to take in making the transition.

Over the 15 years we have been offering cloud business management services, we have refined a process for helping partners build cloud-based practices. Although we regularly work with new companies specifically set up to capitalise on the cloud opportunity, by far the most common starting point is working with an established reseller or system integrator.

This process starts with modelling our partner’s business. We look at the market they already serve, their customer profiles and where they are with each customer relationship. Using this model, we can provide insight into the resources required and costs that can be expected in building the cloud practice, then illustrate the expected ROI of that practice.

When starting a new practice, it is critical to develop the sales pipeline rapidly to ensure the flow of revenue. To achieve this we allocate account managers, whose expertise is aligned with the partner’s. The account manager’s work to identify existing customers who fit the relevant cloud services profile and discuss options with those customers. As these discussions progress we work with our partner on the transaction.

For example, in the early stages of a new partner relationship our team can manage the implementation while the partner team gets up to speed. Our partner retains full margin on product licences, lays the foundations of a recurring revenue stream, and is able to concentrate on deepening their capabilities. We apply the same process as we expand the capabilities of our services to ensure partners can rapidly benefit from new capabilities, without losing their client relationships.

At the core of this process is transparency. All customers get quotations directly from NetSuite so that value add is the only differentiator our partner’s should ever compete with each other on. This combined with our true margin model mean that there is no discounting fog to complicate business planning and reporting.

As our new partner’s product expertise grows our sector experts are tasked with highlighting and developing opportunities. For example, working together to address forthcoming upgrade issues for partner’s clients, or identify opportunities for additional applications from our partner ecosystem. The aim in each case is to add value for our partners’ client and create an entry point for a wider sale.

The final element of our approach is that we work to support the growth of a cloud culture for our partners. Changing established sales behaviour is hard, moving away from offering the familiar touchstones and examples when you talk to a customer requires more than proof points; it needs some mental leaps of faith. Building the confidence of the sales team, in our product and their ability to sell it has to underpin the transition to cloud sales.

Cloud services are in demand, but not all are created equal. Adding a true cloud offering to your portfolio can reduce risk, build financial stability and offer opportunities to grow in new directions. How long can you afford to be cloudless?

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