Archive | Cloud Services Sales Acceleration

Differentiation in the Cloud (aka. Differentiate or Die)

In the massively expanding world of virtualised services how can Cloud Service Providers stand out from the crowd and demonstrate that they are materially different? And secondly, how do you explain that your material differences are vital and critical for customer success? This is the dilemma today facing Leaders and Senior Executives at Cloud Service Providers, MSPs, System Integrators, Resellers, Distis and LARs.

So what is the answer to effective Differentiation in the Cloud?

problem-not-solution1. Being Relevant: It’s all about them and not about you. You need to have a deep understanding of your target customers, their challenges, their aspirations and their desired business outcomes from using your cloud services. If you can’t help your customers to “join the dots”, you are not going to have a high growth business. You are going to have to hope that the Customer can work this out for themselves, quantify the results they expect to get and make the decision to buy by themselves. This sounds like a very risky business strategy to me! Never delegate the Buying Decision to the customer. You must decide with them and for them. After all, they may get the decision wrong!

2. Differentiation: 3 Levels of Perceived Value

differentiation_3_levelsLevel 1: The Product /Service. If you are like most Cloud Service Providers you are building your offers on one of several Vendors infrastructure platforms: AWS, IBM or Azure or you are using key technologies such as VMware, Hyper-V, WebSphere or application solutions such as O365, Salesforce.com, CRM online, etc. So the question in level 1 is “how can I differentiate if my technology stack is the same as CSP A, CSP B or CSP C’s stack? Clear the thing that we all want to avoid is differentiating on price.

“Price is race to the bottom that you don’t want to win.”

There is some scope to differentiate using your own IP to create unique capabilities and offers based on the underlying infrastructure and core technologies. Infrastructure enhancements, data center security, usage extensions, custom templates, service bundles, pre-populated parameterisation, bundles and packages fall into this category. But levering your uniqueness in level 1 is limited.

Level 2: Professional Services and Support. Huge opportunities exist here to differentiate your core offers from your competitors and other Cloud Service Providers. Because everything in level 2 is unique to you and your company: your people, processes and systems. Often these areas of differentiation go totally under exploited by Cloud Service Providers and consequently remain unrecognised and unappreciated by customers. Here you have a huge undeveloped opportunity to differentiate in real and relevant ways and to liberate new levels of value for customers. Examples: cloud migration assessment services, on-boarding services, application and data migration services, Migration SLAs, security consulting services, big data consulting services, hybrid architecture consulting services, support services that enable business outcomes.

Level 3: The End2End Customer Experience. What are all those things that you can do as a Cloud Service Provider to deliver a superior experience to customers? By End2End you should be thinking from the customer’s point of view and at any point in the Customer’s Journey from Find, Try, Buy and Consume Cloud Services

Change the direction of your thinking:
Cloud Service Providers think Inside-out:
Product/Service -> Professional Services and Support -> End2End Customer Experience
The Customer thinks Outside-in:
End2End Customer Experience -> Professional Services and Support -> Product/Service

3. Linking your Uniqueness to the Customer’s Desired Outcomes
selling_business_outcomes

The Line-of-Business Buyer seeks three things:
1) Speed-to-use
2) Ease of Adoption
3) Measurable Business Value

 

Also see links to:
Competitive separation post
Workplace Transformation: How to Survive the Cloud slideshare
Sales Transformation: 5 Steps to Capture More Cloud Customers Keynote presentation (video)

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Don’t Expect the Channel to Create Demand

Customer_Adoption• Your channel is an extension of your sales capability, not an extension of your marketing department

• The channel supports, services and fulfils customer demand

• Channels rely on the Vendor to invest in the brand, develop brand awareness, create demand, generate sales momentum and develop new market opportunities

• Building buzz, creating a Tipping Point and ‘Crossing the Chasm’ are all responsibilities of the Vendor, NOT the Channel

Customer Adoption is dependent on Technology Adoption. (see The Technology Adoption Curve) 

We want B, lots of B. That phase of sustained linear growth in revenue, units sold and market share.

Yesterday’s Conventional Wisdom: says build capacity to deliver B: The logic is, get ready they are coming. That means building out:

  • Direct sales force
  • Retail sales capacity
  • Demonstration centres
  • Value added resellers
  • Distribution network
  • Sales agents
  • Referral Partners
  • etc.

=> PUSH

Tomorrow’s Conventional Wisdom: says build A to get to B. The logic here is the fastest and most effective way to get to B is via A, so go do A now and massively.

A is all about creating a tipping point through word-of-mouth: and viral word-of-mouth, getting innovators and early adopters to tell their friends, acquaintances, colleagues, business associates to tell their friends. Think: social media. Think: audience of my audience.

  • Trails and evaluations
  • Recommendation
  • Referral
  • Testimonials
  • Quotation
  • Success Stories

By:

  • Tech savvy GenC
  • bloggers
  • Thought Leaders
  • Industry Analysts
  • Consultants
  • Journalists

=> PULL

The anatomy of content marketing - the heart of online success

Question: What are you going to do to accelerate Customer Adoption of your Products and Services?

Read blog post: Customer Adoption is the new ROI
View slideshare: Customer Adoption is the new ROI
Read Book: Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A Moore

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The Inescapable Digital Transformation: What's the Future for Business leaders in 2013?

Brian_Solis_Paris_14.01.13This week I had the privilege of listening to Brian Solis, Altimeter Group speak at l’Innovation au Napoleon Conference in Paris. Brian is a thought leader in the consumer revolution, the digital revolution, social media and the impact that these vectors of change will have on our lives and our businesses in 2013 and beyond. Brian is the author of several books on the subject including: Engage and The End of Business As Usual. His next book What’s The Future (WTF) will be published in March. You can pre-order it now from Amazon.

So what did Brian have to say?

Competing for Relevance: The power of the Network Effect is driving the need for business transformation. Failure to recognise and to respond to changes in consumer behaviour will ultimately result in business failure.

Open to Disruption: The rise of Generation C: the (always) Connected Customer has changed the game for ever. Traditional customers -> Digital Customers -> Generation C Customers. These people become an extension of who you are and who they connect with. They share experiences, beliefs and values in online conversations. Your goal is to spark conversations greater than this room by extending your reach, by using the reach of people in your network, group or tribe. Distinguish between conversations that talk to you AND conversations that talk through you, the audience of your audience.

Zero Moment of Truth: This is a shockingly obvious fact which confirms something we probably all know. People trust their peers the most. That is why people go to Youtube and customer review boards before they go to a corporate website. The goal therefore becomes how do you get people to share their thoughts and experiences (Moments of Truth) with their networks, groups or tribes at each step in their buying journey, decision making process or online interactions? This is the new frontier of tomorrow’s marketing.

Tomorrow’s Touchpoints: What are they for your business and how quickly can you include them in your regular business operations? Build marketing channels and sales channels that will maximise interaction of customers with your business. Remember it is a two way street. These touchpoints will create “Share of Voice” and “positive sentiment”, or not!

Alignment Hierarchy: Marketing -> Social Science -> Digital Behaviourism. Demographics -> Psychographics. Media -> Social Media. Mass market thinking -> Interest graph thinking. At one level we have: Actions and Tactics <-> Purpose and Values, and at another level we have Aligning Sales and Marketing, and channels to the Buyer’s Journey or the Hero’s Journey.

Organisational Evolution: Creating of new roles around “digital behaviour” with job titles that explain their ‘raison d’etre’ such as: CEO -> Chief Experience Officer. CIO -> Chief Innovation Officer or CDO = Chief Digital Officer

“We’re entering an era of reciprocity. We now have to engage people in a way that’s useful or helpful to their lives. The consumer is looking to satisfy their needs, and we have to be there to help them with that. To put it another way: How can we exchange value instead of just sending a message?” –  Jim Lecinski

 

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