Sales Strategies for Cloud Storage Services

Cloud Solutions Sales Pros: don’t miss this Wednesday’s virtual gathering to hear latest trends and opportunities in selling Cloud-based selling strategies. The Talkin’ Cloud team has their ear to the rail on this topic.  Event is online, Wednesday 10 August. More: You’re Invited: Sales Strategies for Cloud Storage Services | TalkinCloud.

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Selling Services on the Cloud: Elements of Success

Although sales of  intangibles — services, Cloud-based software — carry healthy margins, sales close rates are typically well-below the ideal.  Examining the reasons why this occurs is key to solving this issue. A panel of veteran salesmen shed light on the challenge at TechAmerica San Diego Marketing & Sales’ July Roundtable.

The event was especially productive due to the variety of attendee profiles, all of whom brought unique perspectives to the discussion. I spoke with a software technologist who’s starting up a new venture, an account manager for a Cloud-based data management solutions provider, and a project manager at an IP-based telephony systems provider.

As soon as moderator Craig Arnoff, co-chair of the roundtable asked panelists how selling intangibles differs from selling products, it was clear that successful sales people share universal traits, regardless of what’s in their bag of tricks. Trust, training, drive, optimism, better customer service. Some are born, some are made.

Ken Reilich made an interesting point: some salespeople come to rely upon products as crutches, vs. their selling skills. Products become the sole reason for success, or the whipping boy for failure (“pricey, lousy, old…” ) Take the product away, and replace it with intangibles, and success is slightly more determined by superior selling skills.

David Alemian reminded us that a successful salesperson can sell anything: he began his career selling swimming pools in New England, in the winter (quick, what’s the pain point there?!); and now promotes a novel, Cloud-based management tool sold to healthcare IT leaders. He also touched on Neuro-Linguistic Programming as a key element in human interaction.

Bruce Cole sells Internet marketing and SEO tools and services at a local and community level. He emphasized testimonials and proven success stories, which I also advocate is the most valuable sales tool, whether selling in one zip code or in several continents. I think that’s why Yelp and Angie’s List have earned such a following.

At this point, I wondered how each panelist would extend these formulas for success into a channel-driven, multi-tier sales organization… wherein face-to-face visits with end decision makers are rare or impossible.  A successful global channel leader possesses all of the above traits and skills, then marries them with excellent organizational skills, time management, and a healthy respect for the value of channel partners. Topic for another panel!

Craig brought up the core element of success: a fruitful, face-to-face experience with customers begins with a  make-or-break, 15-second pitch. For successful salespeople, it’s like breathing. But for less outgoing, more self-conscious people it’s a mystery.  Craig also shared a couple of items from his Sales Alliance toolkit: how pre-screening and benchmarking can increase a good match between sales candidate and employer.

Reminds me of a lesson I learned long ago on career development: teamwork lets others benefit from your talents, as you do what you do best; while you draw the same from them. Don’t waste time trying to perfect your less-than-ideal skills.

More about the moderator and panelists here.

“Social Media Means Business”

As an authority on automating successful selling, salesforce.com can’t be beat. They’re also at the center of the brainstorm on how well social media really contributes to successful sales and customer service. salesforce.com vp Peter Coffee spoke at last week’s Ingram Micro Summit. A couple of thought-provoking ideas from Coffee that bode well for every business, from sole proprietor to Fortune 100:

Selling Tools Unite to Form One Social Body

  1. “Social Media Means Business”, cited Dell’s 22,000+ social media interactions daily
  2. “Moving Toward Zero, One and Infinity”, customers marching toward:

    • Zero on-premise infrastructure with zero acquisition cost, zero adoption cost and zero support cost
    • One coherent environment rather than software stack
    • Infinite scalability.

salesforce.com’s position is especially valuable, given their commitment to partnerships with ISVs, who develop social media-centric tools; and to MSPs, whose toolkits help realize the 2 ideas above.

btw, I’m working in an office where Facebook access is blocked (really not a bad idea).  As a consumer products manufacturer, we actively use social media, so we have to step out back and fire up our smartphones to see how they’re performing … joining the fraternity of smokers. WiFi and ashtray, one convenient location!

(Thanks to Joe Panettieri at TalkinCloud, whose blog post covered Peter’s talk. Image courtesy salesforce.com)

MSP and VAR Channels Seek Slice of the Cloud

This month, MSP and VAR channel experts are tuning in to news and events from Microsoft and Ingram Micro, as both define latest Cloud solutions and the roles their trusted partners will play in deploying each.

Microsoft’s running an online ad campaign titled Cloudcycle: A Hybrid Model, illustrating with vivid clarity the features and benefits and key concepts of cloud solutions.  They’re readying for a 28 June Cloud Suite launch, and a worldwide partner conference next month in Los Angeles.

Ingram Micro just wrapped up a partner summit in Phoenix, wherein they presented tools and programs to MSP and VAR partners.

The questions for MSPs and VARs for both companies surround how much freedom they will have in packaging and billing these partners’ strong new programs, and how much of the profits they can claim vs. share. Even though channel partnerships are now the largest revenue growth source for technology providers, when it comes to sharing the Cloud isn’t always Open Skies.

SaaS Market Expansion Strategies: Part4

Hanson Marketing is leading a market expansion project for a SaaS solutions developer. (View Part1 here and Part2 here and Part3 here) We’re seeking international markets across many verticals wherein SaaS is in rapid growth mode, and are focusing our efforts on the Managed Services Provider partner model. But first, it’s roll up the sleeves and create marketing messages that will resonate well with new target customers, and populate a SEO-savvy, re-designed website.   Success stories and industry-specific solution descriptions will form the meat of the new website.

We’re also gauging the viability and influence of our target industry trade associations and analyst groups: namely, those which are in orbit around the world of Managed Services Providers (MSPs)

Finally, the client is bringing aboard an account manager, to cultivate new business from existing revenue from trusted, current partners.  That’s the low-hanging fruit I discussed in

SaaS Market Expansion Strategies: Part4

Hanson Marketing is leading a market expansion project for a SaaS solutions developer. (View Part1 here and Part2 here and Part3 here) We’re seeking international markets across many verticals wherein SaaS is in rapid growth mode, and are focusing our efforts on the Managed Services Provider partner model. But first, it’s roll up the sleeves and create marketing messages that will resonate well with new target customers, and populate a SEO-savvy, re-designed website.   Success stories and industry-specific solution descriptions will form the meat of the new website.

We’re also gauging the viability and influence of our target industry trade associations and analyst groups: namely, those which are in orbit around the world of Managed Services Providers (MSPs)

Finally, the client is bringing aboard an account manager, to cultivate new business from existing revenue from trusted, current partners.  That’s the low-hanging fruit I discussed in

 

US Government Adopting Cloud Computing

The US government is moving agency systems to cloud computing, a shared pool of computing resources such as servers and data storage. Agencies have identified 75 computer systems that can be moved to the cloud, and are hiring companies to do the work.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government this year may shut down 100 of the 800 data centers it wants to close by 2015.

Privatized-based consolidation of government computing resources is a boon to such companies as Managed Services Providers and Systems Integrators, while reducing the public sector employment ranks and cost overhead.  Is your game plan to ready to capture the new opportunities?  Audit your online marketing resources today: does your expertise in SaaS, Cloud-based solutions ring clear with your viewers?  Are you staking claim to your expertise and proven success, and happy customers in the public and enterprise sectors?

SaaS Market Expansion Strategies: Part2

Hanson Marketing’s latest project – finding new markets for a provider of SaaS-based data management solutions – has entered phase two, wherein we have selected Managed Service Providers (MSPs) as the optimal new customer profile. In the global MSP sector, we view highest revenue growth potential, and most opportunity to extend the company’s credentials as subject matter expert on the crucial issue of data governance in the Cloud.

MSPs are target customers themselves, as are their clients; and many have developed industry-specific expertise (i.e., healthcare, financial, research) They’ll be interested to know about our client’s proven success in these and other sectors.

Up next?

  • Product Positioning – relate the existing product line’s robust performance in the Cloud, through data sheets and white papers that are driven by customer testimonials
  • Public relations – extending the reach of the client’s deep industry experience and early entry into Cloud-based data management solutions. Speaking engagements, guest editorials, sponsorship at MSP industry gatherings
  • Web Assets – Formation of a new web presence, via a new site that will co-exist alongside the company’s existing, product-centric website. Here, we introduce three elements vital to any successful website: focused URLs and page descriptors, customer-driven success stories by sector, and SEO-friendly words that win the attention of decision makers in the global MSP sector
  • International expansion – defining a short list of 3-4 new international territories, in which there are well-established MSPs and relatively few obstacles to entry by a foreign provider. As a US-based software developer, our client has a strong advantage in any international market they choose to enter.
  • Stay tuned as we delve into these and other market-building elements, in our quest to successfully re-position our client in as an expert solutions provider for MSPs, worldwide. (View Part1 here)

    SaaS Market Expansion Strategies: Part1

    Hanson Marketing is engaged by a provider of Cloud Computing, SaaS-based software solutions. The company has gained an outstanding client list and its owners have serious industry pedigrees. Facing a leveling off of sales revenue, they approached Hanson Marketing to guide them toward emerging, high-growth market sectors; and to position the company’s leaders as industry experts in such vital topics as Data Privacy and Data Governance. And that’s just Phase One!

    After assessing the company’s message — its media outreach, product positioning, social image and selling cycle — Hanson Marketing evaluated a short list of industry sectors, international expansion markets, and then recommended target list.

    Once we’ve honed the company’s image — building expert-level credentials for its leadership in the vital areas of data privacy and data governance, refreshing its spoken, written and Web messaging — we will hit the airwaves and the road to meet influencers in each of the new market sectors. To come? New revenue in new market sectors… meeting our goal. Stay tuned for more as our project develops.

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