Between small businesses and large enterprises lie a multitude of mid-market customers that require a different touch. Resellers approaching an SMB know to hold back on the tech specs, focusing instead on the solution or business outcome.
Those targeting the largest of enterprises talk up their ability to deliver projects on budget, on time and with minimal disruption.
Middle-sized businesses are typically defined as those with between 100 and 1,000 employees. Globally, sales of services and technology to mid-size businesses has been estimated to represent a ￡32bn sales opportunity in 2016.
They have many of the same needs as big business and similarly try to capitalise but with fewer IT staff and smaller budgets. They need to focus resources and spending on their core business, rather than technology to support it.
Beyond that, being able to respond quickly to shifting business challenges is critical. So for channel partners, conveying the agility message is key, with cloud and mobility supporting areas seeing significant growth for partners.
In the past, mid-sized businesses generally viewed cloud as all in or not at all. But with hybrid deployments, customers can keep specific workloads, services or applications on-premise as they see fit. Partners can teach them how and when to move workloads between private, hybrid and public cloud.
Initiatives such as Global Intercloud can help share both the risk and reward with partners and enable resellers to bring offerings and services to the market faster and at scale. The cloud means large, enterprise-class application can be made available to mid-sized firms on a utility basis.
Mid-market organisations can effectively leapfrog larger competitors by applying the right IT at the right time - and channel partners can use this fact to their advantage.
Facilitating a secure BYOD deployment in an organisation of 500 employees is a cross-architecture offering incorporating mobile device management (MDM) software to secure Wi-Fi access points with support and services overlaid. With the right approach and the appropriate partnerships, partners can control the entire deployment.
Naturally, large organisations tend to employ IT professionals in tune with the latest developments in cloud and related legislative changes. Mid-sized businesses might be making their first moves worldwide, opening offices abroad or winning customers where they don't even have a physical presence.
And they may need help with security, data sovereignty and integrity, and how all these are managed.
Passive threat detection, such as legacy firewalls and anti-virus software, is old news and simply does not cut it any longer. Mid-market customers are now asking for evidence of continuous, real-time protection, which again means more opportunities for channel partners to advise, educate and offer a broader range of technologies.
In the context of the mid-market, the major appeal of any cloud offering is the shorter upgrade cycle. Threats evolve on a daily basis; if a business security solution can't do the same, the risk of a breach is significantly higher.
Whether you're selling cloud services, tablet PCs or routers, a few golden rules will always apply. Listen first and speak second, frame any sales proposition in the context of that particular customer's pain points, and make educating your mid-market customers a key priority.
In doing so, you will form two-way partnerships that last, instead of short-lived relationships based around sales cycles.
Richard Roberts is UK partner and commercial sales managing director at Cisco
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