Lucy Green of business development firm Larato has provided some answers to out question: How do you grow your business in a cloud-centric market? She has come up with a three-point plan!
More businesses are buying more cloud services. Over four in five organisations use cloud today and it is predicted by the Cloud Industry Forum in their 2016 Trends Report that 70% of these expect their usage to increase over the next 12 months. According to PWC, firms using an above average number of cloud services are growing 26% faster and delivering 20% higher profits. Importantly, these impressive commercial results are being attributed to the cloud technology in use. This isn’t all. There are productivity and efficiency benefits being gained too;
- 67% increase in productivity
- 68% increase in efficiency
- 62% increase in collaboration
- 54% increase in employee well-being
Faster growth. More profits. Better working practices. It’s a potent value proposition for buyers that will continue to accelerate cloud adoption over the next 3 to 5 years.
The channel’s business development opportunity
One of the most common conversations I have with businesses is about leaving money on the table. More leaders are becoming aware of the fact that they could be securing higher revenues from their customers and they come to Larato for help to obtain them. With this in mind, I present a three-point business development strategy for Comms Business readers wanting to grow with cloud and connectivity services.
A three-point plan for growth
1. Understand your starting point. In every business I have worked with over the past 12 years, there are unrecognised business development gems. It is vital to uncover these because the market is evolving, competition is increasing and buyers are shopping around much more. Here are some real examples that show how Larato has helped channel players to uncover gems that have grown their bottom line.
- Hidden customer specialisms. Segmenting customer data has revealed valuable skills in industries, size of business and location of business.
- Hidden product gems. We often find that suppliers who integrate services or develop their own products undervalue their achievements from a buyer’s perspective. In one example, a supplier was giving away a service that solved one of the most complex problems in managing cloud telephones. In another, a service guarantee that was simple for the provider to offer was a valuable unique selling point that rapidly accelerated growth. Most recently, a provider that has developed its own provisioning and service management portal is now realising that this portal is one of the best in the industry.
2. Be selective about where and how you will grow. Today’s customers are adapting their working practices to embrace Cloud. Tomorrow’s buyers will expect their suppliers to be advising them about how to improve their working practices with new technologies. This is a fundamental shift and will require channel players to have far more consultative selling skills to win business. It is hard and risky to try and be expert at everything; you must choose what you will specialise in and partner for the rest. For example, security could be a specialism. But it is vast. It straddles simple firewalls, complex artificial intelligence systems, changing regulatory requirements and compliance legislation. The same applies for digital transformation. It even applies to UC. Advising a business on changing their working practices to gain benefits from UC requires;
- in-depth knowledge of how the buyers’ business works,
- skill in specifying new operational processes,
- expertise to specify the right service configuration and connectivity
- Success in the future relies on deep expertise plus partnering for breadth of offering.
3. Readying your resources for success. Old tech was simpler to sell and market. System sales meant a good sales person could do well with only very occasional contact with customers. Cloud sales require a regular interaction to keep buyers buying, advising them on how to benefit most from the services you sell. Growth depends on strong alignment across marketing, sales and prospects. Marketing needs to generate warm conversations for your sales people to progress, and that means you need to have a joined up marketing strategy.
Together, sales and marketing need to understand what the buyer wants at what point in the buying cycle. Note the term ‘buying cycle’. Sales cycles will become increasingly irrelevant as buyers take ever more control of driving deals. In order to ready your resources for success, think about how buyers buy rather than how sales sell.
Monday Morning Actions
It’s easy for business development activities to get lost in the hectic pace of every day trading. Try and make time to plan your growth carefully. Your rewards will include faster growth at lower risk. This Monday morning, consider What hidden gems do I have in my business? Where do I want my business to grow? What specialisms are attractive? What should I partner for? How do I align my sales and marketing resources and working practices with how buyers buy?