One of the most critical elements in creating a successful and profitable project and/or managed services business is to ensure your service strategy and processes are rock solid. For those of you who are just getting started with adding cloud project and managed services to your portfolio, I would like to offer some suggestions.
Focus on building efficient processes and delivering a high quality onboarding experience for new customers: Successful services partners invest in developing process documentation and are always on the look out to build efficiency into the processes. As you prepare to roll out and sell a new cloud service offering, it is important to start by considering how its implementation might affect a new customer because first impressions count and poor onboarding creates cost and hurts sales confidence. You can minimize onboarding risk by investing in resources and documentation.
Through several implementations, your costs will gradually decrease, but do not short-change yourself or your customers in the beginning. Remember, you are charging the customer for this onboarding, so go the extra mile to make sure that your quality and the customer’s experience are both thorough and more than satisfactory at every checkpoint. Ideally, you want this critical process to differentiate you in the marketplace.
Give it time: One of the most common and impactful mistakes made by partners is a failure to see the new initiative through its formative stages. It takes 20-30 transactions of almost anything to maximize the profitability. Far too many partners get frustrated by the first few sales, through either lack of planning or poor execution.
Carefully review your results on a frequent basis: Top performers monitor in short intervals. An important new initiative will not succeed with quarterly or even monthly reviews. Make it a priority to review progress and assumptions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. This allows time for course correction and shows the appropriate management priority. In these review sessions, management should not hesitate to realign resources quickly. Many new initiatives fail because those implementing them have too many, higher priority tasks to complete and cannot give the new initiative the attention that it needs. The best are very good at figuring this out and reprioritizing their teams quickly.
Hand select your first few customers: Another characteristic of partners who successfully launch new services is that they hand-select their first few customers. They do this because they know that the first few implementations and early service experiences may have issues, but that the reserve of goodwill that the firm has with these hand-selected customers will see them through any early bumps.
Narrow your customer profile: The most successful services partners, in terms of growth and profits, sell to just one target customer size and stick to it strictly. Selling and delivering quality service to customers of widely differing sizes creates multiple difficulties. Customers of different sizes have different sales cycles and account management needs, need different engineering skills, systems and tools, reporting, and so on. Those who try to sell services to two or more different customer sizes simultaneously will either under-perform or end up adding costs to build multiple marketing, sales and delivery operations. Focus gives top performing firms time to develop high-value, differentiated services while simultaneously driving down costs.
Want to learn more?
Check out our Cloud Transformation Training Series we developed along with our content partners Service Leadership, Inc who have over 20 years’ experience building and running solution provider companies to help you make the right cloud business model decision and help you to plan your transition to the cloud across all of the key dimensions of your business including Sales, Marketing, Service, Finance and Compensation. In the series we go deeper on the concepts described above and give you many more tips to maximize your profitability and success in the cloud.
Join us at the Profitability Deep Dive at WPC where we’ll be going deep on how to build a profitable cloud business with Microsoft on Sunday afternoon from 1-4:30 (registration required) and then repeating these sessions Tuesday afternoon from 1-5 (you will be able to add the Tuesday sessions to your schedule starting in June). Register now for the Sunday pre-day at WPC!
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