All channel companies know the key to keeping customers engaged and buying is to add value to the purchase.
However, in an environment of commodity hardware and software, it is difficult to demonstrate the type of value that turns you into a trusted adviser on whom customers rely, and repositions you as an expert who wants to help the customer do more with less.
All customers need to protect their data, ensure it can be recovered when needed, and comply with regulations.
Multiple analysts have suggested that organisations run on average two or three data protection applications. Contrary to past trends, they are continuing to acquire new backup and replication technologies, based on the introduction of virtualisation and a desire to move to predominantly disk-based backup.
This can makes data protection difficult and costly. There is quite an opportunity to help customers better manage their multitude of backup and replication products, by adding another layer of vendor-agnostic reporting and analysis.
If this layer is added upfront in the sales cycle, it can give the reseller a great deal of credibility. It positions you as an expert helping the customer improve operations rather than simply trying to sell them something.
Even a reseller with minimal experience can use such tools initially to assess the customers' data protection environment and recommend new products that should be deployed to improve backup and recovery. These assessments can drive both services and product revenue.
Furthermore, assessments can take seven to 10 days to expose information on how well backups are performing, how much capacity is being used and if there is any opportunity to modify procedures to improve operations and compliance.
Customers are generally open to paying for these assessments, in my experience, especially if the partner can help the organisation restructure their environments to eliminate any problems which are identified.
Even if the assessments are done gratis, the results usually justify the sale of a new product and resellers can go in with evidence of the need. For example, for a virtualisation backup application, or a product with built in de-duplication that may reduce storage costs.
An assessment might discover that a VTL or pure disk-based targets might eliminate bottlenecks and reduce capital costs.
There are also other benefits. The partner can then go on to schedule regular reviews of the customer's environment and have complete historical information available.
Your customer relationships will never suffer when you are accepted as an expert who cares about their operation and that can help you gain a competitive edge.
Nancy Hurley is chief executive of Bocada
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