In my last post, I shared how I see managed services coming to the forefront for your sales force because implementing infrastructure as a service (IaaS) without managed services is a sure way for your customers to lose money. But, in order to be able to sell in the managed services space, your sales force must understand that the sell is less about the “box” and more about becoming a partner to your customer.
At the end of the day, it comes down to a financial decision for your customer, so your sales force must be able to verbalize how your managed services offering will not only help them in the long term, but also will help them maximize their investment in the cloud. It is the managed services element of the sale that will ultimately justify a cloud environment for your customer’s Chief Information Officer (CIO).
The first step is understanding the marriage between the managed services/cloud offering and the other solutions that the customer is considering and marrying those up into a financial justification. The customer needs to understand “What will it cost me to implement the solution I am considering?” and “What’s the difference between if I do nothing or if I implement the solution?” Implementation must save the customer money, and you need to be able to show the incremental spend they will incur if they don’t implement the solution.
It is a delicate conversation, because some companies want productivity increases while looking to reduce headcount, so you can help them eliminate selling, general and administrative expenses (SG&A). In other cases, they are looking to redeploy their resources to higher value and more strategic types of activities as opposed to “break/fix,” which managed services will take care of for them.
You have to understand each customer’s unique needs and ensure you are positioning your solution correctly. For example, you don’t want to go into the CIO who is trying to redeploy resources in a different way, and say “I can help you cut headcount.” He or she won’t want to hear that. You need to understand the problem the customer is trying to solve and show how managed services can solve it. Being able to wrap that all into a conversation, gather all the metrics that the customer is looking at, and present back to them the financial return on the decisions they are considering is imperative in this kind of sale.
What I’m finding is that many companies need training for their sales force to efficiently conduct these delicate conversations and position managed services correctly. When you are talking about one-time fees and recurring revenue streams, you have to be able to map that all into a cash flow over 3-5 years to show the customer, “Here is the value of the solution that I am bringing to you.”
Your customer will want you to not only be able to show how you can replicate the environment in the cloud, but also how you will help them manage the implementation of new technologies, dovetail with existing technologies, and then maximize the new environment to make it more cost effective for the customer. For those who are accustomed to selling the technology fix and are not versed in how to manage the technology, it will be a more difficult sale.
Our Executive Relevance Selling (ERS) training modules and other training offerings are designed to help our partners sell managed services effectively by including the metrics that CIOs want to understand for either redeploying resources or cutting SG&A.