Collaborative Selling, Part V
How Cloud Trends Impact Selling Strategies
By Theresa Caragol
, Achieve Unite Founder & CEO
The maturation of the cloud will drive companies to rebuild their infrastructures to optimize the cloud. With this will come a need to redefine policies, workflows and infrastructure. In addition, the C-suite will have to become more tech-savvy to fully leverage the power of the cloud while mitigating risks like cybersecurity and digital governance. With all this at play, Solution Providers will need to be highly collaborative and skilled at bringing stakeholders together and integrating both technical and business considerations.
—Jim Schwartz, Sr Director, Global Channel Programs, Sungard AS
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Industry trends have a significant impact on sales models. According to CompTIA, a non-profit trade association that issues professional certifications, the Cloud has entered a new phase of maturity and, as a result, businesses are racing to upgrade their digital expertise at the Board level. This "will result in higher expectations for business value, security, transparency, and equal access to opportunity," – and, importantly, will impact the way we sell.
The move to the cloud, the deployment of cloud-centric solutions and the race to go digital demand a more collaborative, comprehensive sales approach that integrates business as well as technical considerations. The Solution Provider will be required to act as a Business Consultant to the customer rather than the provider of a point solution.
Let's take a closer look at the selling implications of these two trends:
- Cloud Maturation Requires a Holistic Collaborative Sales Approach
CompTIA's research in this space has tracked a cloud adoption progression for business. Up until this point, companies have begun to develop best practices for moving workloads to the cloud and ensuring availability and resilience of workloads. Now, many companies are looking to move into full production mode in which most, if not all, of their applications will live in some form of the Cloud (private, public, hybrid, etc.).
To effectively navigate this transition, sellers will need to go beyond the technical considerations of moving to the Cloud; they need to understand the Business Strategy and Operations that will help their customers take a more holistic approach that will leverage the power of the Cloud in all business aspects. This will mean building relationships with additional stakeholders within the organization and fostering discussions to understand workflows, policies and business objectives. Sellers will need to take a dynamic approach by asking questions to understand the business and developing trust within the organization.
Mastering this Collaborative approach will accelerate your customer's journey to achieve the next stage of transformed IT, which is all about maximizing Cloud characteristics such as efficiency and scalability for the benefit of the business. This will be the most challenging stage of cloud adoption, requiring companies to build and reconfigure business policies and workflows to optimize the power of the Cloud. In this phase, companies will be looking to their Solution Providers, their trusted advisors, to help them navigate through these challenges and changes. This represents a big opportunity for Solution Providers to demonstrate tremendous value to their customers which will result in increased trust and loyalty.
- The Race to Go Digital Will Drive More Interaction with the C-Suite
According to CompTIA, "with the consequences of a single digital misstep becoming more severe, Board-level engagement with cybersecurity and data governance is no longer optional". This will drive C-level executives to gain a greater understanding of the technology landscape and to ask questions to ensure that they pursue only initiatives that are a good fit for the organization. This will put the Solution Provider in a role of business consultant, which means that the solution provider needs to have deep expertise in cloud solutions and the customer's business. This may sound like a tall order, but this is where partnerships play an important role.
As the business consultant, the Solution Provider can pull in their best-in-class technology partners to weave together a comprehensive business case for the customer. This includes having a solid joint business proposition, understanding the right team members to engage at the partner who can deliver the appropriate value and insight to the customer or leveraging partner relationships with other stakeholders within the customer's organization to better understand the situation.
These trends reflect a shift in business models, which will necessitate the Solution Provider to assume a more strategic role as the business consultant. As the business consultant, they need to leverage Collaborative Selling tactics to build relationships with multiple stakeholders within the customer's organization as well as to leverage their partnerships to bring in comprehensive solutions to address the goals of the organization.
In our next post, I'll talk about the process for building joint partner business propositions as well as developing skills to partner across generations to forge strong, dynamic partnerships that drive successful customer outcomes.
Theresa Caragol is founder and CEO of TCC, LLC, and Achieve Unite, a strategic advisory firm that provides business acceleration services to global enterprise. She has more than 20 years' experience in building and managing multi-million-dollar indirect channel teams and strategic alliance business and programs from inception to sales success. Prior to founding TCC, Theresa held senior executive roles at Extreme Networks, Ciena and Nortel.