Imagine: your company is considering moving to the cloud. You have 300 people to move to Office 365, your employees are on several different versions of the operating system, some are using devices, all will need at least some training. Now let’s say someone offered you the following: a three-hour workshop in which a team of cloud experts do a deep dive into your company’s unique situation and answer all your cloud questions; on-demand tech support for two to three weeks; and a roadmap, specific to your company, on the best path to the cloud. Would you take it?
IA Cubed is a born-in-the-cloud company started five years ago by CEO and owner, Vivien McKee. Vivien had a vision to provide customers with holistic business solutions, and we were successful, growing from 1,000 seats in Office 365 the first year to over 5,000 at the end of three years. But we had even bigger ideas: our team set a very ambitious goal to reach 20,000 seats by the end of FY2015. To do that, we’d need to focus on sales and marketing with a solid focus in customer delivery. So with help from our senior technical team and our service delivery team, we lit on an idea that would help us achieve the growth we wanted – by showing our customers the best way to the cloud.
Consultative sales – the roadmap to sales success
We wanted to find a way to bring customers to the cloud that wasn’t a “this is how great the cloud is, this is why you should do it,” sales pitch. After all, every customer is different, they all have different road blocks and resistance, and they start at different levels of readiness. We could offer a standard “this way to the cloud” template with a big arrow, but we think that’s where the barriers often come in. This is our roadmap:
The Cloud Discovery Workshop. This free, three-hour workshop is a deep dive into the customer’s DNA. We bring at least one director, a senior technical expert, and Kimberley Totten, our partner alliance manager, and we ask that the customer provide not just IT decision makers and the people in charge, but also people from marketing, HR, finance, etc. We want the whole breadth of the company represented so we can get buy-in from everyone and identify road blocks early. We do a presentation on what each element of the cloud is and how it works, then we let them bombard us with whatever cloud questions they have.
Two – three weeks of free tech support. After the workshop, we stay in contact, and our senior technical team provide any tech support the customer needs. Lindsay Climson, our Client Services Manager, walks them through possible scenarios to help them understand what they could be doing now to prepare for a move and answers questions as they arise. This phase gives us time to consider what we learned during the discovery workshop, but it’s also a time to build trust. We’re giving away our expertise and our time because we want the client to understand that we’re invested in their success.
The Wash-up Workshop. At the end of the 2-3 weeks, we return to share what we’ve learned with the customer. We tell them, “Here’s where you are, here’s where you want to be, here’s the roadmap to get you from one to the other.” We let the customer know how we – or another partner – can help them, then we hand everything over and let them decide. This roadmap is controlled and documented by our two lead technical engineers, Iain Lennox and Ross Clement, who work with their technical and project teams to ensure full coverage and customer satisfaction. Each stage of this from beginning to end is provided with no cost outlay to the client.
Hear how IA Cubed helped this family business achieve greater success by providing best-in-class communications tools:
This process may sound a bit risky, giving away knowledge and tools and enabling the customer to make the move to cloud on their own, but this process has yielded a 30 percent conversion rate. That in itself makes the process worthwhile, but even better is the fact that of the 70 percent who don’t immediately sign with us, the vast majority remain in communication with us, opening the way for projects in the future.
Obviously, our process requires heavy investment from us: people to conduct the workshops, weeks of free tech support, and the considerable time spent to create bespoke solutions that we may never get to deploy. We looked for ways to reduce the burden on us and found the win/win of deployment planning services.
Many customers are unaware of the software assurance benefits that are part of their Enterprise Agreement. One benefit is deployment planning services, time customers can have with a qualified deployment partner to help them plan and implement Microsoft solutions. If, after the Wash-up Workshop a customer wants to move ahead, they can utilize their deployment services to have us build them a tailored roadmap to the cloud.
I call this a win/win because the customer doesn’t have to pay for an IT professional to create a roadmap for them. We win because we’re funded through deployment services. If the customer decides to go with another partner or make the move themselves, they have the tools we’ve created for them. Most of them don’t, happily, but knowing they can reduces pressure and increases trust.
We knew we were taking a big risk when we moved to this consultative sales model: there would be more long-term engagements, it would be a longer route to market; we were investing high-level, highly expensive resources in what could end up being free engagements. But by working closely with our customers to create both tailored solutions and, more importantly, trust, we’ve seen gratifying success. Even though there were times over the past year when a goal of 20,000 seats seemed unobtainable, we couldn’t be more thrilled with the results: as of the end of June, we’ve hit 20,690 seats.
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