Selling Cloud Solutions: 3 Ways to Educate Your Buyer

April 30, 2013

Tailoring the Cloud Computing Message to Resonate With Your Prospects Image courtesy of CloudIt. Net

What are the Business Perceptions of the Cloud? Some Thoughts Based on My Customer Interviews

Since I’ve joined OpenView I’ve had the opportunity to speak to Managers of IT and decision makers across several industries and get their input on the Cloud. For this post I wanted to present some key findings from these calls and offer up some suggestions for how to best educate your customers on how the Cloud can work for them. When it comes to selling cloud solutions, it pays to bring the conversation down to earth.

3 Ways to Educate Your Buyers by Bringing the Cloud Down to Earth

1) Provide Concrete, Practical Examples of the Cloud in Action

The most popular comment I have come across by far has been, “I hear about the Cloud all the time, but how does it relate to my business, specifically?”
The key insight here is that businesses are sold on the Cloud as as the “next big thing,” but they are left wanting for details. Customers need to be educated on how the Cloud works for their business in practice.
If you are designing content, highlight case studies on how the Cloud (whether it be a SaaS product or infrastructure) has benefited your clients, and express tangible results.

2) Produce Industry-Specific Messaging

Each industry has specific pain points that can range from reducing costs and industry-driven technology purchases to compliance issues, so it is important to tailor your pitch, content, and sales presentations to each industry.
It is also important to factor in the importance of industry regulation (ex: HIPAA for Healthcare and FINRA/Dodd Frank for Financial Services firms). If you are pitching to a highly regulated industry, be sure to do some research to find out what laws and regulations apply to the companies you are targeting.
In the Professional Services (consulting, market research, etc.) sector, they may not be bound by direct state or federal regulations, but their clients often are. During my time in consulting, our firms were subject to compliance audits from our clients and there were very specific guidelines we had to follow regarding their data.

3) Create Content Targeted to Typical Cloud Buyer Personas

Each decision maker has a distinct set of needs and potential objections. While we have many blog posts on buyer personas, I want to pass along some quick thoughts on who they are for cloud solutions and what their objections typically are:

  • IT directors are often concerned about maintaining ownership of the data and implications of a SaaS application failure. They are worried about risk, integrating with their existing infrastructure, and minimizing the workload on their teams.
  • CTO/CIOs take a longer range, more strategic view of the business. They want to see how your application/solution adds value to the bottom line. They place value on being seen as a strategic adviser to the broader business. How does your solution help them achieve their strategic vision?
  • CFOs unsurprisingly are concerned with the bottom line. “What is this going to cost and what will I get from it?”

The best advice I can offer is that prospects need to be educated on how your solution is applicable to them, how it will add value, and how it will fit into their strategic goals. Of course, it’s always important to understand the specific needs and pain points of each prospect to best position yourself to make the sale.
Are you selling cloud services/solutions? What tips, opportunities, and challenges would you add to this post?

Corporate Strategy, Sales Operations

Sudip is in charge of Corporate Strategy, Sales Operations at <a href="">Alegeus Technologies</a>. Previously, he worked at OpenView from 2012 until 2014 with portfolio companies to provide insights on the markets they operate in, their customers, and drive development of business strategies.