In any sales process, business owners and sales managers can expect to encounter a variety of challenges. The cloud is quickly gaining popularity among VARs, as it is the perfect platform for switching from project-based sales to more lucrative recurring services. Customers, on the other hand, don't always view the change in a positive light.
Selling recurring cloud-based services can mean significant growth for VARs who typically work on a project level with customers. No one likes change, though, especially when they are unsure of the potential outcome. When presented with a dramatic shift in process, customers sometimes feel the need to back away.
Understanding your customers’ mindset can help you better approach the sales process. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you're having a hard time getting your customers or prospects to accept change and move to the cloud.
Change Impacts an Entire BusinessCustomers who aren't used to change often get extremely nervous when the subject is broached, and for good reason. While a switch to recurring cloud-based services may seem logical and even beneficial to them from your perspective, it often has a dramatic impact on their entire business.
It's inevitable that this type of change will require a switch in some business processes. If you're removing servers and transitioning PCs to thin clients, for example, the customer's office environment changes. Moving from local server-based to cloud-based applications will change employees’ work habits.
As a result, your customer’s employees must learn to adjust to a new way of doing their job, which can be anxiety-producing for some. The switch, no matter how small, can affect personal and business processes.
Cloud Technology is EmergingThe technology industry has been moving to the cloud for years. For many customers, however, the cloud is still a mystery. They are interested, but don’t yet fully comprehend it. Just because switching to cloud-based services might make perfect sense to you, then, doesn't mean your customers are going to feel the same way.
Keep in mind that mainstream customers are somewhere around two years behind most VARs when it comes to understanding the cloud. Customers who aren't well-versed on cloud technology may be hesitant to jump onboard with a dramatic change, simply because they don't know what they're getting into. With this in mind, you can imagine why such a change can be nerve-wracking for some business owners.
Don't Avoid the DiscussionYou know that approaching customers with a conversation about switching to recurring cloud-based services has the potential to be uncomfortable. Avoiding the conversation will do nothing but cause further problems, though.
As you talk about the move to the cloud, keep in mind customers’ reluctance to change. Consider the pieces of their business that will be impacted by the move. Help them identify the roadblocks that could cause them anxiety. Then simplify the business process changes. You might find that this is all it takes to facilitate a painless transition.
Even though customers may be apprehensive about entering the cloud, we know this technology is here to stay. Now you just need to put your customers’ minds at ease and help them adapt their businesses to the change.
Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert and author of the award winning book “Selling Against the Goal” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.