One of the most critical aspects of building a successful cloud business is ensuring that you have the right sales structure and the right sales force in place. If you, like many partners, are grappling with the move to the cloud, you are likely looking for some tips to help steer you in the right direction. Here goes:
  1. Consider starting with a dedicated sales team focused on cloud

    Many successful partners who have made the transition from on-premises businesses to the cloud started their transition by setting up a dedicated sales team focused on the cloud. Catapult Systems and SoftJam are great examples of this, as is Microsoft!

    • Catapult Systems’ traditional sales model was based on local pre-sales and sales personnel operating out of each of the regional offices. But the cloud is about scalability and more efficient use of resources, so it only made sense to mirror those characteristics in its new effort to sell cloud services.

      The company trained its regional sales personnel to sell cloud services, but it also created a new, centralized cloud sales team to extend its sales reach. The new team, with two pre-sales and four sales reps, targets the so-called “white-space areas” of the U.S. that are outside of the company’s regional-office territories. The centralized selling team also performed another important function for Catapult Systems: helping build momentum for cloud services deals among the traditional sales force.

    • SoftJam, a partner based in Italy, built a dedicated pre-sales team focused on identifying customer pain points and needs and defining cloud solutions to address them. The dedicated pre-sales staff members are more consultative and business-oriented and so are better suited for cloud pre-sales than their predecessors.

  2. Dare to hire younger talent

    As reported in the IDC Successful Cloud Partners eBook, a hot best practice for partners focused on the volume SMB market is to hire younger, less-expensive talent, and build up their capabilities. This new generation of employees lives and breathes technology – and does a great job of selling its benefits to customers. Additionally, younger salespeople tend to be less concerned about their compensation structure with cloud sales than traditional IT salespeople.

    Perspicuity, a partner based in the UK, lives and breathes this strategy. Like some other Microsoft partners, Perspicuity found that its seasoned sales force, highly trained and highly skilled in Exchange Server migrations—and highly compensated for them, too—wasn’t the right sales force to sell Office 365. As a result, the company made a deliberate decision to recruit talented, enthusiastic, eager-to-learn youth between the ages of 16 and 21 who weren’t college-bound. Once the recruits are hired they are taken through a rigorous training program to prepare them for success.

  3. Seek out talent with vertical expertise

    As Brent Combest pointed out in his recent blog post, taking a vertical approach is a highly recommended strategy to help partners increase profitability, command a higher price point, maximize average revenue per user, increase return on marketing investment, and increase services margin. In order to support this strategy, a recommended best practice is to hire individuals with industry or vertical expertise in your areas of focus. This will increase your credibility and connections right away.

  4. Think through where your sales people really need to live

    The great thing about the cloud is that it offers flexibility and from a hiring perspective allows you to reach into talent pools outside of your office locations. Forceworks cites this as one of their best practices. Three quarters of Forceworks employees live outside the local area and even some of its local employees telecommute from home rather than showing up at the office.

    “Hiring people regardless of where they live gives us better access to the best people,” says Steve Mordue, CEO of Forceworks. “Letting them telecommute through the cloud gives them better quality of life. One reason we’re so good at selling the cloud is because we see its benefits every day.”

I hope these tips have been helpful! For more tips from successful cloud partners check out the IDC Successful Cloud Partners 2.0 eBook. For additional training on Partner Profitability visit the Learning Path on MPN.
Jen Sieger

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