There is little doubt that on-site contracts are beginning to dry up as customers seek the financial and technical flexibility of "everything-as-a-service". However, the transformation from traditional on-site reseller to annuity-based business can be a daunting or even bankrupting prospect.
Resellers should start the metamorphosis sooner rather than later. This will buy time to identify big changes and granular consequences, apply due diligence, and migrate – rather than forklift – the business. Partnering may be key, especially for smaller resellers.
Repeat revenues offer the assurance of regular income and a chance to build long-term, loyal customers. But consider the impact to financial arrangements, staff incentives and pay, customer billing processes and credit agreements with suppliers.
The key is to develop new services-based customers over time. Seek new opportunities, one customer at a time, rather than upgrading the entire customer base all at once. Then lessons can be applied in situ and the processes improved.
The learning curve for salespeople pitching cloud services to business decision makers can be steep and perhaps demoralising. If their success is measured by hit rates and commission, they will be more inclined to focus on tried and tested opportunities.
Engage the sales team early. Instill confidence in the opportunity, and reassure them about the commission structures. Service providers and vendors will incorporate training as part of the partner package.
Sales are the front line. Make sure they are backed up by the website, data sheets, brochures, and in proposals. Demonstrating knowledge, awareness and consistency goes a long way to establishing trust.
Partners that can also provide hands-on consultancy and technical support will come into their own during tenders, contract negotiations, fulfilment and support services. Choose partners that are happy to wear your brand too; perception is reality, right?
Mark Herbert is founder and business development director at intY
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