Proactively selling cloud to SMBs: Get ahead of the buying decision 

Written by Marc Shelley, Egenera

With cloud, it’s like having a “déjà vu all over again” moment. It was 1984 when John Gage of Sun Microsystems famously stated: “The network is the computer.” If I take the liberty of replacing “network” with “cloud,” John Gage was prophetically correct. In 2017, the cloud is the computer.

Cloud moves the “computer” function of IT to the cloud. With cloud, end users (sometimes unknowingly) can access the applications they need from anywhere, using the network John Gage referred to. End user devices function as I/O resources for the compute component, the cloud.

But, how has the cloud changed the SMB owner’s technology perspectives?

A recent CompTIA research report[1] reveals that SMBs place a high priority on technology and underlying many strategic priorities is the desire to simplify.”  SMBs need technology but they don’t need the headaches inherent with legacy (physical) IT.

Survey results from the same report show that SMBs had excellent or good perceptions of technology ROI but it’s interesting to note the reasons cited when tech ROI fell short:

  1. Ongoing maintenance costs / fees [41%]
  2. Required upgrades / built-in obsolescence [37%]
  3. Staff time needed to operate / maintain [37%]
  4. Upfront cost / too expensive for what you get [36%]
  5. Complexity / poor user experience [32%]
  6. Insufficient features / capabilities [30%]
  7. Reliability expectations not met [29%]

The cloud simplifies and improves technology ROI for SMBs while addressing all the issues shown above. From an SMB’s perspective, it’s easy to see why cloud is compelling. But, where does this compute paradigm shift leave traditional IT service providers? What are their options?

They can:

  • Resist cloud: But remember what a wise Borg once said about resistance — it’s futile.
  • Stand up their own cloud: Very high upfront costs, and delayed ROI makes it too prohibitive.
  • Partner with a cloud services provider (CSP): A CSP who is focused on simplifying your cloud experience.

SMBs want technology simplified so they can focus on improving their customers’ experiences, not their technology. How is this any different than what service providers need?  Cloud eliminates IT heavy-lifting so service providers can focus on creating better experiences for their customers.

The challenge for some service providers is that oftentimes their customers are already talking about finding a CSP on their own. Assessing CSPs is not a function that SMB owners should be doing. Service providers should proactively perform their own CSP assessments so they’re positioned to offer cloud services or at least act as a trusted advisor to their customers (precluding them from looking elsewhere).

But where does a non-cloud service provider begin?

  • Step 1: Learn what you need to look for in a CSP. Download our CSP Assessment checklist. There are probably several items on the checklist you might not have considered, but need to.
  • Step 2: Now you’re ready to have “the talk” with your customers. Your customers are likely to ask about the behemoth CSPs mostly due to their highly publicized “race to the bottom” prices. It’s in your best interest to understand that although the prices look great to your customers you’ll find yourself in an unenviable place between the public price lists and the hidden costs you’ll have to “pay to play” with the big CSPs. The public prices are just the tip of the cost iceberg. For additional information download our “Selling Cloud to SMBs” advisory.

The cloud is a tool for you and your customers’ success, not a hindrance to it.

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[1] https://www.comptia.org/resources/the-business-relevance-of-it-in-the-smb-market

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