Archive | desired outcomes

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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The End of Certainty: The Beginning of Creativity?

End_of_Certainty_1“The future ain’t what it used to be.”Yogi Berra

We are in a period of massively disruptive and unprecedented change. One of the first victims of massive and disruptive change for many businesses today is certainty. There just doesn’t seem to be enough certainty left in the world to go around. More than ever before we are confronting uncertainty, and its two siblings ambiguity and contradiction.

You are probably thinking: “Wow, that is a lot of bad news all at once.” Well, I would encourage you to think again. Maybe, just maybe, we are entering a period of enormous opportunity, possibility and choice. Why? Because uncertainty, ambiguity, contradiction and chaos are the necessary ingredients for experimentation, innovation and creativity.

“The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.” Erich Fromm

Uncertainty, ambiguity and contradiction are the fertile ground of creativity.” – Deepak Chopra

ExperimentationWhat are the 6 keys to creativity?

  • Insight
  • Intuition
  • Imagination
  • Intention
  • Inspiration
  • Choice making

How can you bring about a collective shift in thinking in your work place to move people to the new paradigm of abundant and unlimited creativity?

  • Adapt endlessly. Become open to the unknown by suspending the need to know and the need for certainty. Experiment, explore, inquire and question the future.
  • Get comfortable with ambiguity and contradiction. Become more mentality agile by re-framing the question, changing your mind and challenging your assumptions, values and beliefs.
  • Start practicing “Intelligent Adjacency”. What are the logical extensions or possible connections that you can make? Where could adjacency-thinking lead you?
  • Relinquish entitlement-based thinking. Stop trying to maintain the status quo. Forget about what you think you are entitled to. Let go of the past so that you can move into the future.

Take Away: Certainty -> Uncertainty. Uncertainty -> thinking creatively about the future you want to bring about. Uncertainty is the new Certainty

Question #1: Are you a ‘prisoner of the past’, a ‘victim of the present’ or someone who is creatively ‘shaping their future’?

Question #2: What are you doing to accelerate your personal and organisational creativity?

 

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Change Begins with Choice

Is openness or receptiveness to change holding you or organisation back? How can you create durable change initiatives at your place of work? Why is change so hard?

“People are not afraid of change. They fear the unknown.” – Dick Brown, former CEO of EDS

In today’s chaotic post-crisis world we are facing more unknowns than ever before. Incremental planning based on a safe set of assumptions has been replaced by scenario planning with probabilities assigned to a range of possible outcomes. Our ability to change and overcome our fear of the unknown is largely determined by the way we think about the future.

Adaptive Thinking is having a permanent focus on the desired outcomes while constructively responding to change in pursuit of achieving those goals. Adaptive thinking is the application of Divergent thinking (Possibility thinking) creating choices followed by Convergent thinking (Critical thinking) making a choice. But the secret to success lies in using both these thinking approaches sequentially: Divergent thinking AND then Convergent thinking, in that order.

“The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.” – John Scully

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker

Building our Future is a mindset, a conscious choice about how we choose to think and how we choose to respond to change. Develop your level of Adaptive thinking and you will increase your mental resilience – your ability to stay focused when all else around you crashes and burns. Adaptive thinking is the best way to deal with your fear of the unknown and your people’s fear of the future. It is our responsibility to build our future.

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Quantifying Value – The Ultimate Sales Tool

Understanding your own value – the value of your products and services – and being able to connect that value to your customer’s business drivers is what makes customers want to buy. Customers want the benefits, the business benefits that your product or service can create and deliver to their business.

In today’s business climate customers are critically reviewing and reassessing their businesses, rethinking their options, re-allocating resources and re-prioritizing their business strategies. You can assist your customers in this process by helping them to identify and quantify value gaps or value opportunities, demonstrating how value can be created, implemented and then measured to ensure that the value realised meets or exceeds plan.

Value maximisation followed by value assurance is what your customers desperately want and need today. Show him or her how they can achieve these two goals and you will create more than a customer, you will create a business partner for life.

Price Advantage -> Product Advantage -> Competitive Advantage -> Value Advantage!!! Continue Reading →

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Managing Your Mindset. Your #1 Challenge in 2009

Woody Allen said “80 percent of success is showing up.”
Thinking about it, this is very practical advice, and for people in sales a good rule to live by. You can’t influence, persuade, or sell yourself or your ideas if you aren’t sitting in front of the person you need to influence. Now ask yourself this.

How often have you chosen to simply send an email or make a phone call rather than holding to a face-to-face meeting?

Essentially you are choosing between sending your message vs personally delivering your message. Using email and the phone is easier for sure. However, it is also easier for the other person to choose to ignore, misunderstand or fail to take the desired action in response to your message. Less investment in time and effort equates to less commitment to influence. So, showing up wins? Yes, no contest. But, I think that there is a critical and unstated assumption here. Let me explain. Showing up, how and in what state of mind? Showing up when you are unprepared, uncommitted, de-motivated, tired, or sick means that we may have been better off sending an email or making a phone call. Showing up when you are well prepared: having a plan, being fully committed and having a positive mental attitude is what will deliver success. Continue Reading →

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