• How Sales Enablement Evolves with Your Cloud Solutions

    In How Marketing Can Accelerate Cloud Adoption: Three Strategies to Turn Buzz into Buyers, we offered some thoughts and examples around mapping cloud messages to buying and selling cycles,  and enabling the development of resources that guide customers and prospects to and through the cloud:

    • Investing in non-traditional thought leadership and awareness activities can dispel confusion and doubt surrounding cloud technologies
    • Developing the right sales conversations to help build and sustain prospect interaction to continue moving an opportunity forward

    But since we published that paper just 14 months ago, the entire cloud computing marketplace has grown and matured at an incredible pace. It seems the transition from “early adoption” to “mainstream adoption” has been compressed—and clearly that’s a good thing for cloud solution vendors, providers and resellers.

    Cloud sales enablement and marketing for 2012

    We’ll be updating the cloud marketing paper in the coming months, but I wanted to take a rainy Friday here in Philadelphia to put a few ideas to paper:

    Maturing the cloud message:  I’ve seen a real shift in the way cloud companies are talking about their solutions. The early messages around cost savings are still valid, but it seems we’ve all done a lot more thinking about driving real business value: becoming more agile; being more responsive to market fluctuations; developing new capabilities and services for customers.

    This more proactive, value-centric approach better addresses customer challenges and is helping with cloud adoption.I’ve been speaking with a desktop-in-the-cloud company whose offerings are basically the same as they were 12 months ago. But their business has really shifted quite a bit as desktop virtualization has become a much hotter topic. I’ve been impressed with the way they’ve shifted the message to be more customer-centric, while still retaining their focus on managed service providers. Which leads me to point #2…

    Targeting service providers:  With more cloud technology options on the market every day, hosting and service providers have many options for how they deliver their cloud services. Security was an early message for cloud marketers, but that’s now become table stakes.

    Today’s service providers are looking for new technologies that will help not only with cost savings and security, but in driving agility and flexibility across the infrastructure. Large technology vendors in the server and storage spaces are retooling their messages and recruiting materials to show service providers how they can help customers be more dynamic.One of my long-term clients has started putting significant resources into forging better relationships with service provider partners.

    Much like the long-term strategy of encouraging consultants and systems integrators to base their solutions practices on a certain technology, today’s vendors are showing the value of their offerings in a service provider’s cloud architecture. That’s also critical in recruiting new reseller partner…taking us to point #3…

    Enabling VARs and partners:  Channel industry trade publications and websites are full of headlines and articles analyzing the impact that cloud computing is having on the traditional VAR channel.

    Certainly pure-play systems resellers are going to need to transition their business model to take more of a cloud strategist role, and depend on their vendor suppliers and regional service providers to help craft a complete cloud transition strategy that adds value to the customers’ business AND the reseller’s profitability.One client of mine has added “cloud aggregator” to their reseller line card.

    They’re helping their reseller partners identify the best cloud offerings to offer, as well as offering a dashboard of cloud usage issue resolution—a critical part of resellers becoming a “trusted advisor” for clients and their cloud strategies moving into the future.

    No shortage of cloud information for customers OR resellers

    The cloud computing marketplace has made me realize that I’m truly a “market headline junkie.” I’ll click on any story or blog that offers information or insight into how marketers can help sellers make money selling cloud computing.

    I’d be interested in your feedback and thoughts about sales enablement and marketing cloud computing services in 2012 and beyond.

    Eric Nitschke is VP of Client Services and Managing Director at Launch International.  Eric uses his experience at Launch International to deliver a best-practices approach to client management, sales enablement, thought leadership, whiteboarding and channel development and enablement.  To read all blogs published by Launch International click here.

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