Guest Column | June 19, 2017

5 Best Practices For MSP Cloud Success

Life Science Vendor Authentication: Compliance In The Cloud

By Joan Spindel, Chief Go-to-Market Strategist, Westcon-Comstor

Success in the cloud means more than the right technology. In today’s ever-changing business climate, channel partners must develop multiple strategies that incorporate different platforms, pricing and compensation plans and knowledge about both IT and business drivers—all in the name of finding a competitive advantage.

When you transition your business to the cloud, sales models evolve, marketing tactics become digital based and value-added services are all about supporting the transition, migration and management of the new environment.

Westcon-Comstor’s  Cloud in the Channel study reveals much about the way channel partners think about the cloud. Among the findings: cloud-focused channel partners are significantly more likely to report revenue increases than those not selling cloud, but many don’t feel they’re as equipped to be successful.

While Cloud remains a big priority for MSPs and other solution providers, many feel they currently lack the resources and capabilities to capitalize on the cloud opportunity. Here are five best practices MSPs should consider adopting to better support their transition to the cloud.

1. Implement a Cloud-focused Sales Compensation Plan

According to Westcon-Comstor’s VOC study, 59% of partners don’t have a cloud-focused sales compensation plan. Your first objective should be to build a plan that rewards recurring proactive cloud revenue acquisition and contract renewals. Your business should drive customer cloud demand, not the other way around. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of resources, including distributors and other MSPs, that can help you get started.

2. Know Your Customer’s Business as Well as Your Own

Cloud challenges channel partners to change their mindset and move toward a value-centric, service-first  model. This means refocusing and specializing in customer outcomes. This shift is critical since so many purchasing solution decisions are made with input from the lines of business. Your ability to understand your customers’ business and identify processes and solutions can help them be more productive and efficient—and go a long way toward building long-term relationships and recognition as a cloud leader in your local region or market.

3. Sell Solutions Not Products

Understanding end customers’ underlying motivations for moving to cloud can help channel partners identify not only the right cloud offers to sell, but also the right way
to translate those offers into complete solutions that deliver lifetime value for customers. Cloud requires a focus on building long-term, value-driven relationships with customers, underpinned with mastery in a technology, a vertical or a business process regardless of geography. About 59% of channel partners have started selling cloud bundles, according to the survey. As that increases, so does the need to tailor those bundles to meet your customers’ specific business needs.

4. Talk the Talk to Walk the Walk.

It’s important that your entire organization can talk about the benefits of cloud, as well as answer questions about cloud security, access and other potential roadblocks. Although, if you can’t, you’re not alone. Nearly a third of channel partners need help with sales training and marketing strategies, according to the survey. To modernize your sales and marketing, IDC recommends frequent checks and updates to your company’s social activities, digital content and customer journey strategies to ensure you stay a step ahead of the competition.

5. Deliver Services To Generate More Opportunity

Developing your own complementary services is a great way to augment your cloud offering. Half of the VOC survey respondents said they’re already developing new cloud managed services as part of their cloud transformation strategy. The reason: partner-built intellectual property and services bring increased customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and profitability. The biggest challenge, according to the survey, is developing in-house expertise and technical resources. One suggestion: find a partner, like a distributor, that can help you offer the services while you build your bench.

According to IDC, cloud is one of the biggest disruptors for IT vendors and their business partners alike because of the business-model changes it often requires. Therefore, it is clear that the status quo won’t work. The more your business shifts to focusing on lifetime value versus a single sale, the greater your chance for success in the cloud.

Good news, you don’t have to go it alone. Talk to your favorite distributors to learn about the enablement programs, solutions and other services you can leverage to build and grow your cloud practice. Distributors with established cloud practices have a vested interest in your success. When you do well, they do well—but most of all, your customers have a better chance of meeting their objectives.

How are you helping your customers transition to the cloud? What are your biggest obstacles and how are you overcoming them … or not? How can your distribution partners and/or vendors help?