Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cloud Advertising Now in Airports


Just when you thought you had time to figure out how to approach executives about cloud services, cloud vendors start advertising in airports.

This ad is in the Orlando airport and doesn’t do much to help execs understand what cloud is about.

This should be a wake up call if you don’t have a cloud story and strategy.

And… Stand by for a major cloud announcement on Monday.

Channel Models in the Era of the Cloud


Join Tim Harmon from Forrester Research and me as we deliver a webinar about channel partners’ plans, readiness, barriers, and needs as cloud technologies emerge.

We teamed with Forrester on a cloud research project and this one-hour webinar is the first peek at our findings.

Topics in this event:

  • Channel partners’ growth plans
  • The upheaval in the channels
  • The cloud services gold rush is neigh
  • What it means
  • What channel partners want and need

Event playback at

If you don’t have a Forrester account, you’ll need to answer a short questionnaire to access the replay. It’s worth it!

To view the WebEx recording with the PowerPoint presentation, a one-time installation of the WebEx Player is required.

Download and install the WebEx .WRF Player now.

If you have already installed the WebEx Player, you may choose to “Open” or “Save” the file. If you are prompted to choose a program to open the file with, select “ATAUTHOR.”

Starting the Cloud Conversation with a CEO

If you’re calling on the CEO, owner, or line of business manager, use this value proposition script as your conversation starter.

“You know how every time you ask your I.T. department for something, they say, ‘I’ll have to get back to you on that’?”

“Well, I want to share with you an I.T. strategy that lets you migrate from computer-centric I.T. to services-centric business systems.”

“And the result is, my clients have a substantially more efficient I.T. and business operation, with faster technology rollouts, better reliability, and better service to their customers, resulting in more profits and growth.”

Think that will get their attention? You bet! We’re pushing all their buttons. We’re calling out issues that most executives have about their I.T. department and talking about what they really want to grow their business.

Notice that we don’t even use the “C” word! Unless executives say “cloud” don’t use the word. Remember, executives generally don’t care about how you’re going to deliver your services, just that you are.

Follow up with two simple questions:

“What do you want more of?” And, “What do you want less of?”

The answers to these instantly reveals their strategic goals.

You can then come up with tactics to implement those goals with cloud solutions.

Finding Quick Cloud Sales Wins

Where are the quick sales wins? Where’s the first place to look for customers?

Start by reaching out to your customer base. They already know you, love you, and trust you. You don’t have to convince them that you know what you’re doing. Look for business situations where they need to move an application to the cloud.

The quickest win is with customers who are at the physical limits of their data center with no room to expand their IT department and little prospect of getting budget to build out their facilities. If they are out of power, cooling, or floor space, they will be most receptive to a discussion about moving part of their IT department to the cloud. And they are motivated to move fast.

Look for customers who wish to outsource collaboration applications, such as e-mail with hosted Microsoft Exchange, or hosted SharePoint. These applications have rapid growth, need to be compliant, and need to be available everywhere. 

The next fastest place to find business is with your customers who are rapidly growing. Cloud services are quick to deploy, meaning customers can get up and running fast.

Another business scenario is mergers and acquisitions. In a merger, the IT department and databases must be consolidated to realize the value of the acquisition. Executives want this to happen as soon as possible, with the least amount of cost, and the most amount of business value.

Look for customers who are undergoing financial pressure, they want to get more out of the resources they have already and better manage cash flow. Look for ways to redeploy their existing assets and reduce labor costs with cloud services.


Thinking About Selling Cloud?

If you’re not selling cloud services, don’t be afraid, it’s the same thing you’ve been selling to your customers; it’s just delivered a different way and with more potential margin.

What changes is that you move your focus away from features and functions to strategic business issues. You’re going to up-level your customer relationships beyond the IT department. You’re going to work with executives to understand about where they’re business is going and how you’re going to help them get there.

Cloud is going to make you more strategic less tactical. And you know that strategists are paid much better than tacticians. That’s one way you can get more margin.

We surveyed one hundred and eighty of your colleagues to find out about what they needed to know to be successful selling cloud. In addition we conducted nineteen in-depth telephone interviews to discover their attitudes and requirements. What I write about here is the result of that research.

The market is expecting strong growth through the next few years, reaching $149 billion worldwide in 2012 with half of that being in the US. Gartner predicts that in the next few years, 20 percent of companies will own no IT assets other end-user access devices, 35 percent of the US midmarket will buy cloud computing and IT utility services, and 40 percent of enterprises will blend cloud with on premises applications. Do you want a piece of that market? I bet you do!

So if you’re considering selling cloud, ask yourself these questions.

  • Are your customers asking about using cloud today?
  • Do your customers have complaints about their current IT services?
  • Do you supply services or want to supply services to your customers?
  • Are you willing to adjust your business model?

If you’ve answered yes to these questions, decide that it’s time to get into the cloud and stay tuned to learn how.

Why Your Systems Engineer is Important to Your Cloud Sales

The cloud sales approach that works best focuses on the business needs of the customer and does not pitch a specific product or approach.

The sales approach that does not work is pitching a specific solution or product in the absence of understanding customer needs and the I.T. environment.

Once you have a clear understanding of what your customer needs, then your system engineer can analyze how to best support their outcome and identify the technology that you’ll use to implement that outcome. It’s most likely you’ll offer a blend of technologies to get the outcome your customer’s looking for.

Your system engineer brings value to the sales process identifying what types customer applications and I.T. functions can and should be moved to the cloud and then figure out how to best navigate the I. T. transition and cloud deployment.

You can best do this working in conjunction with your systems engineer, working as a cloud tag team. While you uncover the business issues and desired outcomes, your S.E. will review the current I.T. environment, and assess the potential I.T. and business outcome of moving to the cloud, along with the current cost base. They’ll determine how to best get the business outcome needed and recommend a cloud action plan. 

You’ll then work with your S.E. to combine your findings with their observations to help create a powerful and compelling presentation and proposal. Only then will you recommend a specific product or solution and implementation plan. 

You never want to promise a potential outcome or solution can’t implement. Doing so is going to kill your cloud practice fast. 


Sales Cloud-readiness Assessment Tool

Consider these questions to decide if you’re ready to offer cloud services to your customers.

❏Are your customers’ executives asking about cloud computing?

❏Do more than 20 percent of your customers use Software-as-a-Service products, such as Google Apps,, etc.?

❏Do your customers fit any of these cloud-friendly usage scenarios?

❏Outsourcing IT functions

❏Physical limits to data center expansion

❏Virtualization of servers

❏Virtualization of desktops

❏Rapid business growth

❏Disaster recovery

❏Business continuity planning

❏Off-site on-line data storage

❏End-user productivity applications


❏Are customers asking about converged datacenter infrastructure (private cloud)?

❏Do you supply services or want to supply services to your customers?

❏Are you willing to adjust your business model?

❏Is your technical team willing to bring on a new technology?

❏Is your sales team willing to bring on a new sales process?

If you checked three or more boxes, you should seriously consider adding cloud computing and services to your line card.

Why Selling Cloud Computing is Different

As an IT professional, when you sell cloud-based IT services, you’re selling the stuff you’ve been traditionally selling, it’s just delivered differently.

What changes is that you move your focus away from features and functions to strategic business issues. You’re going to up-level your customer relationships beyond the I.T. department. Don’t worry, I’ll talk about how in this blog!

You’re going to work with executives to understand where they’re business is going and how you’re going to help them get there. Cloud is going to make you more strategic and less tactical. And you know that strategists are paid much better than tacticians. That’s one way you can get more margin and make more money.

You’ve got to learn how to sell disruptive technology—a technology that changes how I.T. is delivered, and the world will never be the same. It’s not a matter of “if,” it’s a matter of “when” cloud becomes part of your customer’s I.T. strategy. You want to be there first.

When you sell disruptive technology, you focus on selling an outcome, not the underlying technology or the HOW you plan to deliver the outcome. When Henry Ford was selling the first mass-produced automobile—true disruptive technology—he said, “If I’d asked them what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Similarly with cloud, if you ask the I.T. department what they want, it’s faster servers and network, more storage, and a bigger sys admin budget. But if you ask executives what they want, it’s competitive advantage, company agility, reduced risk, and an I.T. department that says, “Yes, I can have the up and running today.” See how cloud is going to be disruptive!