I’ve attended countless events, presentations and webinars on selling Cloud computing — some good, some bad, and some were… well… let’s say “unappealing” is as polite as I can get. One in particular sticks in my mind: a presentation I was really looking forward to last year by a top executive of a huge IT multinational. The presenter had an elaborate and attractive PowerPoint presentation that had clearly been developed by a skilled corporate marketing department. It leveraged data from a variety of the top names in IT research — Forrester, Gartner, and IDC. Unfortunately, the presentation was gratuitously protracted and so caught up in the complexities of the market, it failed to provide the information that those selling Cloud might actually need.
Striving for Differentiation
To compete in an increasingly crowded Cloud marketplace, most MSPs and VARs are resorting to multi-channel sales and marketing campaigns as they strive to stand out.
The VP with the overly long presentation that let me down was not wrong — there are many complexities to be examined in Cloud computing. But the managed service providers trying to close the deal with their clients don’t have the time to bone up on all the intricacies of this still-unfolding technology. The clients they have sitting across the table from them (or more likely, at the other end of an email conversation) don’t care exactly HOW the Cloud works — they just want to know it WILL.
As a managed service provider or value-added reseller, you’ve probably come across this disconnect before. Your hosting partner wants to disseminate vast fields of minutiae so that your team can have the comprehensive knowledge they feel is needed to better sell their product. Never mind the fact that by the time your team could actually study up and learn the ins and outs of how the system works, some new development would render their knowledge obsolete — more important still is the fact that their customers, hard-working business owners themselves, have no interest in this knowledge.
Sales people are, in general, what has become known as “just-in-time” learners – they are action-oriented, very busy, and much more comfortable acquiring the information they need to close a sale just when they need it, rather than spending hours digesting reams of data to be distilled and regurgitated later. Multi-channel sales and marketing teams for MSPs fit this stereotype more than most, because of the fluid nature of standards in their constantly developing industry. The Cloud is still a relatively recent development, and new strategies and standards for using it are constantly being added to the market.
So how do you translate those comprehensive PowerPoint presentations and 12-inch thick reports into usable capsules of information that you, as a managed service provider, can pass on to clients to move them further down your sales funnel? The focus of your materials has to move away from educating potential clients on how the Cloud works and instead demonstrate how the Cloud will change their lives. Deep details are less relevant to your customers than simply showing that you can address their pains.
Sales Enablement Tools
To better position your multi-channel sales and marketing teams to educate and guide your audience through their transition to the Cloud, it’s vital that you produce content that addresses specific problems or pains they are facing, rather than issues universal to the industry. While high-level reports and white papers offer a clear general overview of your market, your team will find greater success with materials developed specifically for them and their target audience.
- Competitive intelligence at MSP level — market research that focuses on master sellers and their products is less relevant than insight into what other MSPs, VARs, and SIs are doing
- Tribal knowledge — pertinent case studies or success stories that speak to how you’re addressing pains in your client’s industry or geographic location will tell them you understand their needs
- Frequently asked questions — answers to questions previously encountered by salespeople who have successfully marketed similar solutions give salespeople necessary insight without requiring comprehensive industry knowledge
- Product knowledge from techs who have developed or implemented similar solutions can mean more to your team than corporate materials loaded with details they’ll never need to know
The key to multi-channel sales and marketing is coordinating your message across any and all channels your team may employ to convey to your audience that you understand the pains they face and can offer a solution. Your tools can be as straightforward and educational as industry blog posts and white papers, or as novel and innovative as podcasts, mobile apps, and gamification strategies. The key is to ensure your sales team is equipped to communicate not how the Cloud works, but why your clients can’t do without it.
Let TPM Help You with Multi-Channel Sales and Marketing
Are you looking for strategies to help bridge the gap between your corporate partners and your multi-channel sales and marketing team? At Total Product Marketing, our focus is on helping MSPs selling Cloud more effectively target and communicate with their audience. Get in touch today to discuss how we can make a difference in your marketing efforts.