July 20, 2016
By Gary Coben
The biggest challenge facing today’s partner community? To recognize and adapt to the fact that selling cloud services is different from selling network services. Traditional partners that have sold mostly network services have relied on their ability to remain “vendor neutral and carrier agnostic” and may not recognize that selling cloud services turns that concept completely upside down.
Cloud services, especially cloud computing and high-end UC and contact-center solutions, require engineering and design resources that most partners have not invested in. They also require real commitments from suppliers. To go through the entire sales process, including a deep discovery on these complex applications with multiple suppliers, is very time consuming and may not lead to one solution that can be quoted by multiple providers, to produce an apples-to-apples comparison. Therefore, the approach changes from getting multiple quotes on the same elements to engaging your clients with the most suitable vendor from the beginning of the sales process based on the supplier’s area of expertise.
The best way to confuse your prospect is by delivering multiple proposals, with none fully addressing the needs of the client. Partners with deep relationships, in contrast, are able to engage the right vendor at the right time and leverage access to their engineering resources to get the right solution. That will immediately show your client that YOU have the right expertise to solve their problems.
Get on the F.L.O.A.T.
The second challenge facing today’s partners is the sales process itself.
Running an effective interaction with a prospect and successfully discovering their needs for cloud services requires discipline. Many traditional partners would rather avoid the in-depth cloud discussion. That’s a problem. Partners need to engage, and the only way to participate in this multibillion-dollar evolution is by asking the right questions, listening to the answers and staying committed to a process.
My company, Evolve IP, has engaged in over 6,000 discussions with customers about cloud services over the past 10 years. Over that time we have developed a sales process, called F.L.O.A.T., to help our sales associates and partners have a successful, productive dialog with our prospects.
F.L.O.A.T. stands for Financial, Love, On-Time, Alignment, and Technical.
It all starts from the middle out, with finding the On-Time opportunity. Once you have found that On-Time opportunity, engaging the right vendor will ensure that you meet the customers Financial goals, solve their Technical issues, Align with all their key stakeholders, and end up with a customer that Loves your solution.
Gary Coben is SVP of channel services at Evolve IP and a seasoned channel executive with more than 25 years of sales, management, and telephony experience. During this period, Gary has managed revenue streams ranging from $4 million to more than $68 million annually, and managed sales teams from eight to 75 people. He previously served as director of channel sales for deltathree and held several sales and channel management positions with a number of industry leaders, including T-Mobile USA, MCI Worldcom, Sprint, and ITT. Mr. Coben’s broad range of telecom experience includes PBX hardware, network services, data sales, VoIP, and wireless.
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