The time to mull over whether selling cloud is right for your business has long passed; it’s now a requirement. But there are still right and wrong ways to sell cloud.
“The most important thing you can learn is to stop selling and delivering new stuff the old way,” Karl Palachuk, author and consultant for Small Biz Thoughts, told an audience of MSPs at The Channel Company’s NexGen 2018 Conference and Expo Tuesday.
Palachuk speaks from experience, as he has built and sold two cloud-focused managed services firms and sold millions of dollars’ worth of cloud services. There’s plenty of money to be made on cloud services, provided solution providers don’t resort to break/fix selling strategies and include managed services into their bundled offerings, he said.
“Too many people treat cloud like break/fix, which should be illegal because you’re waiting for your customers’ services to break,” Palachuk said. Partners who don’t participate in the maintenance of a cloud solution won’t earn enough recurring revenue on the deal.
Palachuk told MSPs to keep track of “soft” trends in the market, but know “hard’ trends, such as the fact that cloud is happening.
“Someone will sell the last server, don’t let that be you,” he warned partners.
As IT becomes more complicated, partners need to remember that they are consultants to their customers, and are there to make their jobs easier. One way to do that is by filtering down which vendors are good fits and coming to the table with bundled cloud offerings that include managed services, Palachuk said.
C Forward, a Covington, Ky.-based solution provider, is selling cloud services, including Office 365, file storage and off-site backup solutions, in addition to its IT consulting services today. The hardest part about selling cloud is still trust, said Brian Ruschman, president of C Forward.
“Trust is still a big issue, even though the cloud would seem old enough by now, and most customers would actually be much more secure if they made the switch to cloud,” he said.
C Forward’s cloud sales have grown quickly over the last three years, and the firm is bundling its cloud offerings today and earning recurring revenue on the sales. C Forward is also wrapping its managed services around cloud, Ruschman said.
Rejecting the popular idea that cloud technologies bring downward pressure on prices, Palachuk said that “you should charge at least as much as you did before — the cloud might be simpler, but that doesn’t mean it’s less valuable to the client,” he said, encouraging partners to raise rates.
“Your clients probably place a higher value on your services and reliability than you do. … You have to believe in what you’re selling.”