Opportunities like cloud don’t come around too often. For us at Perspicuity to decide on this opportunity it took two conversations; one to understand what cloud was and the second to understand what we could do with it, what services our customers would need and how we would be profitable. For us, the foundations of our profitability were set when we challenged every aspect of our business model and started out in a new direction: essentially relying on using the expertise of the existing business but building services, training people and creating new business processes entirely for the cloud era.
Thinking like a start-up
This is where it all begins…..you have to change the thinking process. In this regard we went for it, asked our customers what they really wanted and forgot about what we could deliver or how we might deliver it. We stopped being an IT projects company and started thinking like business people, and investors.
Our customers were telling us that they liked the way they could buy cloud services: they liked the crispness of the proposition and they liked the certainty of what they were going to get, they liked to know what they were going to pay for it from the outset.
We had to change to meet the demands of the customer who wanted IT services to be delivered as cleanly as cloud services. So we did.
We hired a new team of young people. We focused all our attentions of getting the sale correct and narrowed our services proposition to just one thing, migrating a customer to the cloud. We discovered that when we sold correctly, we had a happy customer and a profitable engagement. The design of this process was to actively find customers that didn’t need/want our service – we went into anti sales mode – and sold a lot! “Searching for the No” is something we were taught by our new found friends in Sandler Training who helped us bring this team to life, creating the behaviours that drive the selling and delivery routine.
Package like a vendor
Providing services in a uniform manner is a really good way of gaining profitability, but it’s the exact opposite approach of a Systems Integration organisation where (to be blunt) every time a customer wants something off the script the more money you make. We had to start thinking more like Microsoft: “it is what it is” this is our migration service, it only comes in this shape. We had to train sales people not to search for the “yes” but the “no.” If our approach doesn’t suit the customer then don’t sell it! What this means is we’ve packaged our services in one way, we only deliver one thing, and bingo, it’s profitable, repeatable, scalable and the customer gets a uniform predictable high quality engagement. Our services are packaged, just like Office 365 – “It is what it is.”
What’s next?
In my view, this is the start of more and more professional services being presented and consumed less in a consultative way and more in a “it is what it is” way. There is still endless scope for customisation and building amazing applications in the cloud, but like our customers, we have to go on the journey with them, building new services as they want to consume them.
Risk and Reward
Prepare yourself and your organisation to be ruthlessly effective at sticking to the script: don’t, and a customer service issue looms large. In the cloud era customers are more demanding than ever around certainty, but it seems to me willing to trade certainty for functionality. Businesses are still tender from the impact of the recession: give them something clear, understandable and low risk and you will win against functional, complex, scary and risky – every time (profitable every time ?)