Many VARs and MSPs are trying to figure out how to take advantage of their customers’ inevitable shift from on-premise computing to the cloud. And, even though analyst groups like Gartner tell us that the addressable cloud market is going to reach $35 billion within the next few years, it often seems like the channel companies tapping into this opportunity are in the minority.
In my role as CloudTalk blogger, I have the privilege of talking with some of the most successful channel companies around and learning about their business strategies. Even though these companies may emphasize one technology over another or one vertical market over another, I’ve noticed they all share this one thing in common: they take a very consultative sales approach with their customers. I know that you’re probably thinking that that phrase is used so often it’s merely a cliché. But, make no mistake; it’s absolutely necessary that your cloud sales pitch is preceded by a consultation with your client.
So, the real question becomes how do you enter into a consultative discussion with a client? Unless a client has an immediate IT need or problem, the business owner or office manager won’t likely be too receptive to giving you four hours to pummel him/her with questions. So, here’s how you avoid that pitfall: Before you get into a consultative discussion with any new client, conduct a network assessment.
A network assessment typically entails loading software onto a prospect’s network and allowing the software to run — sometimes for up to a week — to gather data on every IT asset that’s connected to the prospect’s network. The end result of this is a report that gives you and your prospect the key talking points for your consultative discussion.
Not only does a network assessment get you and your clients out of the world of reactive IT (e.g.: “My server is full and I haven’t been able to back up my data for the past three days. Can you help me RIGHT AWAY?”), and it will also make it clearer to you where the cloud can help alleviate some of your client’s burdens. For example, maybe you discover that a client’s backups aren’t working properly. Instead of focusing the discussion only on fixing their local backup problem, take a couple of steps back and start the discussion about the value of the client’s data and the cost of downtime. It’s in this kind of environment where clients begin to understand that your company is more than just a company that fixes computers and IT equipment, but you’re a true business partner that has a real stake in helping protect their business.