Friday, November 12, 2010

The cloud is here: the 5 steps you need to do to survive and thrive.

The cloud is coming, the cloud is coming!!! Well guess what, if it’s not here now, it’s damn close. And if you think you can avoid it or beat it you’re dead wrong. As they say, if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em. So what can you do?
1. Accept it. The 90’s economy is gone. No we aren’t in a recession, we’re in a correction, and the cloud is a perfect example of that. Technology has become dramatically less expensive, the internet works flawlessly, and hot stuff - productivity enhancing technology that was only enjoyed by the F500 -  is now utilized by the SMB. And, it’s going to be delivered by the cloud. It all started with VARs becoming MSPs providing network management and services remotely, now it’s the technology delivered remotely. No-brainer.
2. Look in the mirror. What do you see? First, please don’t sell yourself short. Don’t tell yourself you are simply a VAR providing technology to the SMB or you’re an MSP providing technical Remote Performance Management. As critically important as these “technologies” are to your customer, you do more than that. You are the trusted advisor to your customers helping their business stay afloat and thrive. You have expertise they don’t have, but need, and you do have. It’s that simple. Translating your IP (Intellectual Property) to their business needs is the key. So what is your organization’s true, true value, your true core competency, the “something” that you provide your customers no one else can do as well as you can. In the cloud world you’ll need to learn how to compete like never before, sell and market like never before, deliver value like never before and exceed customers expectations like never before. To do all that need you to learn your organizations strengths and weaknesses like never before and capitalize on those strengths; turn those weaknesses into more strengths. It all starts in the mirror.
3. Adjust your business model. You will never see a more business model changing event in your life (than what?). Big ticket items, perpetual licenses, 18% maintenance, etc., poof! --“eventually” they all go away. Your new business model will be recurring revenue based and you’ll need to morph/adjust virtually every aspect of your business, from your cost structure, to your sales and marketing model including your COS (cost of sales), to your staff, and your accounting practices etc. But, it’s not a light switch, this must all be done in a dimmer switch approach.
4. Protect your customers. At all cost, protect your customers! If you’re a VAR with no or limited recurring revenue managed services, get into the MSP game ASAP, and start signing up your installed base to some form of multi-year managed services.
If you are an MSP, load up every customer with any and all managed services that are available. As soon as your competitor comes in and signs up one of your customers with even minimal managed services, their foot print can spread like wildfire and next thing you know, you’re out!
5. Transform your sales and marketing from an art to a science. The 90’s was nice wasn’t it? Back then you could be completely sales and marketing illiterate and still blow the cover off revenue ball. Now? Well that’s a different story. You need to create a very low COS sales and marketing machine, starting with a tip-of-the-arrow value prop that keeps your COS low, pricing and packing that promotes value, target your scarce resources on selected target markets you know extremely well, a sales and marketing team whose middle name is “accountability”, create a lead generation process that drives a quantity of high quality leads, and a self-qualifying sales process managed by simple MTM (Metrics-that-Matter) and RTM (Reports-that-Matter).    

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