Tag Archives: sales

switch

Keep it Simple … the Business of Cloud

switchA complicated business, this cloud thing, if you want it to be… of course you don't want it to be, nor do your customers, but it isn't "simple" any more than IT is simple: it is made to look that way, though, by people who know what they're doing.

The cloud message I hear most comes across as a variation of the POOF methodology: "quick, easy, click here, pay there, flick the switch and POOF! You're in the cloud!" This does set an expectation that things are (and will continue to be) simple, quick, and easy (oh, and don't forget, cheap: chances are that somewhere along the way that things like "low entry costs," "cost-effective," and "no CapEx," were translated to "cheap," "cheap," and "cheap.")

Seth Godin says that "You can't sell complicated to someone who came to you to buy simple" to which I add a corollary that "you can't sell expensive to someone who came to you to buy cheap!" However you look at it, while things are (or can be) simpler and more cost-effective than they ever have been, simple to understand does not always equate to not complicated and cost-effective does not in any sense of the word guarantee inexpensive (and it is all relative: specifically to each specific set of customer requirements to which you are delivering).

In reality, you actually can do both, but you better do it well if you want it to stick (and remember, the easy-to-sign customer may end up being the one you wished you hadn't closed).

Broadly considering, no Cloud Provider, large or small, truly understand what the entire market wants or for that matter what an entire segment of customers want: part of what we are offering with today's computing and communications capability is the chance to do new things or old things better, stronger faster and cheaper. You are meant to work with them to exploit the cloud to do whatever it is they want to do, which of course starts with listening to what they want and then applying your knowledge, expertise and experience to work with them to translate those wants into needs… and how to deliver them.

I have a favourite trick in getting this process rolling at the start of a new hunt looking to start the build process of a strong, long-term relationship – you know, that space and time when you aren't yet certain of the drivers of those sitting across the table or the focus and appoach that they or their organisation takes to IT in the business, let alone their agendas!

Remember those coloured, layered plastic pages of the human body in the Encyclopedias of our youth? The first picture was of a person (which we'll liken to your cloud business answer for your customer's business problem); turn the top page to reveal first muscles below the skin, next the blood system, then the organs and finally the skeleton (which equates to what, who and how you deliver that business answer). Everything in between is, well, everything in between – but this allows you to start with the big picture if that turns out to be the right starting point – or the bones if that is what your audience needs on the day… while preparing you well for anything in-between.

Don't sell complicated as simple, because it isn't… and what you are about to do with your customers is game-changing, one way or the other and that seldom is simple.

The Business of Cloud homepage

stopselling

Stop Selling the Cloud… the Business of Cloud

IMG_20121011_121030

“Sales and marketing fail when they either are selling or marketing the wrong thing, or the right thing in the wrong way” ~ me, 2012

 

In planning a recent holiday, we started (as I assume most do) with choosing a destination, based on either the mission (see, visit, do something…) or the vision (city; dive; rest…) for the holiday. We narrowed things down by applying our requirements criteria including travel time and budget, adjusting and extending our view as we made a selection.

We decided on a city break in Istanbul and during this initial ‘discovery’ process we further refined our requirements and determined, broadly, that transport and desired level of accommodation would be both available and affordable and that the city offered us what we were seeking for this holiday. Based on target location, timeframes and convenience, flying was pretty much the only valid option.

While we always seek as painless a travel experience as possible, we typically allocate more budget to accommodations and activities than we do to travel: this typically makes Business Class or better a price barrier but we never adjust our basic requirements: local airports, competitive pricing and a track record that leads us to expect a safe runway landing rather than a splash down or a ride into the side of a mountain. Those needs met, we selected and booked the flight.

Then came the Fun, part 1: deciding where to stay and from there planning what we might get up to on arrival. Following pretty much the same requirements-defined approach as above, at a more granular level, we finalised our criteria relevant to the type of break we wanted (our mission and vision) ranging from the neighbourhood of our hotel to its proximity to sights and transport.

This was followed by the Fun, part 2: going there and doing it. Loosely illustrated our time allocation – and preferably also that of our budget (which is, sadly, usually a larger chunk by far than desired), looks a little bit like:

stopselling

The same type of breakdown applies, loosely, to selling technology-based business solutions  (although not always the same ratios): technology is meant to enable something, to solve something, to deliver something or to earn something, not just to be really cool tech with a better name and fancier tools.

Awareness is Good, Hype is Bad

Now, as written in Part 1 of this reality check, Beware the Cloud-ists! I’d like to say that I like cloud and have done since well before it was called cloud. And that today, with the processing power, capacity and bandwidth to deliver to the promise, not to mention the sliding commercial models and minimal-to-nil start-up barriers in terms of costs or time delays, we are now enabled to use smart, utility delivered, commodity computing in a way that it can really make a difference.

This is very promising in the view of both the business and technology camps: reduced risk, reduced cost, increased agility and overall reduced barriers across what has become a much-simplified business to consumer to business loop (particularly but not exclusively to the online or otherwise computing-centric space).

Cloud Computing has struck a chord with and captured the imagination of the public, businesses and Government in a way that other attempts at delivering utility model computing, ranging from On Demand to first generation SaaS and other such incarnations never did. Everywhere you look are managers, experts, analysts and “observers of a journalistic nature” writing, blogging and tweeting about it: a myriad of real-world experts (some of whom know about that of which they speak, others clearly who do not!) generating countless books, articles and whitepapers.

Cloud is Merely the Delivery Vehicle

… and cloud is also a great foot in the door. Controlled and applied realistically, the hype around cloud is raising awareness and increasing uptake and I suggest using the opportunity created by this hype. Leverage the interest and awareness to start new, broader conversations based on the business goals of your customer (and their customers) rather than the delivery needs of their IT department or your own short-term sales targets… I suggest that you stop selling cloud and instead start to sell and deliver the things that cloud will enable: their imaginations have been captured by all of those pundits and it is time to take advantage of that: the right way!

Raising interest in and creating an understanding of the cloud and its (actual) benefits is clearly good all round: assuming that you want to move from selling products and services to selling business solutions and long-term relationships, cloud is the perfect vehicle to enable that move (more a transformation, by the way, than a move).

Selling business solutions and long-term relationships indicates that it is the competitive edge (in terms of: agility; cost of sales and delivery; sustainability of service) delivered via these new commercial models and methods wrapped around enhanced, improved and new technologies that are cloud, rather than the tech itself. Sell the holiday: the hotel and the activities are that which captures the imagination, not the flight.

And that answer remains the same even if your customer is re-selling your cloud-based models and methods to their end-users: the only difference is that you need to work with them to move them to also think and sell the same way.

Cloud is about enabling innovation, driving speed, delivering business agility and reducing risks: You need a different conversation and a different proposition… my suggestion is to stop selling cloud, start having those different conversations and see where they take you: let cloud sell itself based on what it can do rather than what it is.

As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver-lining: your competitors who are selling that silver lining may make short term income but I would suggest that the real place to go mining would be in the doors opened and relationships built by the conversations around how this cloud stuff can transform their businesses, reduce their costs and get them to their goals better, stronger, quicker, cheaper. That is where lies the mother lode.

Oh… and don’t forget to beware of the Cloud-ists!

The Business of Cloud homepage

in response to a Linked In question: What is the most important problem your salespeople need to overcome?

Brief Intro: I am a cross-over from the highly technical / creative / architecture space in the IT world to the sales / commercial side of the house – a process which commenced 10-15 years ago – not into targeted sales roles but supporting sales and marketing in getting the right message across as to how and what this tech stuff does for the business… in other words, the impact to the bottom line of the business.

 

That said, from my point of view, the single most significant problem of a salesman (and I limit this to my primary space, selling tech and tech-based solutions to business and government though I suspect it has wider application) is when he has the inability to clearly, precisely, quickly and concisely state:
– exactly what it is that he is selling
– exactly why his customer would buy it
– and why buy it from him rather than the competitor
– what his customer sees as the value what he is buying
– what his customer sees as value in terms of who he is buying from

To be clear, the same thing goes for those trying to market whatever it is that the sales bloke (blokess) above is trying to sell – to the same people, and hopefully beyond.

To get around this requires that you clearly understand which of your competencies, capabilities and credibilities combine to form the correct proposition (solution, product, service delivery set – – take your choice of handles). This proposition needs appropriate staging and presentation based on the needs and perceptions at a customer-specific level: what value will it provide and how will the ROI manifest, not what tech it uses or the world-class offshore development facility…

These things are all good, and not all fall into my 'so what' category but, in my opinion, everything is secondary to what your customer sees as the value in buying it, and in buying it from you.

all the best, thoughts of all flavours welcome
Daniel

__________________________________

Incidentally, Beyond Solutions – my company – has a new and unique methodology, currently rolling out to our first customers

DEAL is a proposition modelling methodology – a little more detail can be seen at my website

tech news of note

Bing + Yahoo… more than just another pretty face?? Personally, Bing is a nice change, sometimes, but google has that ubiquitousness thing going for it, and, after all, the top 5 hits from most engines overlap more often than not

Windows 7 up close (from ZDNet) – from my p.o.v., having been forced to use Vista on a new laptop, Windows 7 was more than rational. If, however, I were asked to advise IT Departments as to whether or not they should move to 7, my response would be multi-part:

1. if current XP implementations are working, it might be a plan to leave them as-is

1a. current XP platforms experiencing intermittent but consistent connectivity or bsod issues, go for the upgrade (remembering of course upgrade from XP means clean install)

2. for new or existing Vista implementations, upgrade

3. for all cases where the answer is Windows 7, get the support teams tooled up, check out the upgrade faq and get started, now, using the RC download (should still be there for a couple of weeks yet)

finally, my daily digest from CIO.com irritated me today when stating that “true convergence requires a customer-centric approach”… this illustrates 99% of the problem with telcos: they haven’t yet caught on that ALL services require a customer-centric approach if ever to be delivered successfully!