Top 5 tips for selling cloud services - PC Retail

Top 5 tips for selling cloud services

PCR talks to Microsoft and resellers to help those new to the cloud get started
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We speak to Microsoft and several tech resellers help you understand the cloud and make money from it.

1. How to start selling the cloud

Anybody can start selling Office 365 and Microsoft make it very easy to get into the market,” says Mike Brown from reseller Paradigm Systems. “It sells itself and it’s a nice flat revenue stream. Once you become a managed partner, Microsoft will engage you with marketing and training materials and that type of thing.

“When you start, the cheques you get from Microsoft are pretty small. If you go out and you do 50, 100 or 200 seats with Office 365, £100 comes through. But if you’ve done it for five years and you’ve sold 100,000 or 200,000 seats, you’re looking at tens of thousands of pounds per month coming in.” 

There are hybrid cloud solutions available too, which may be more attractive to SMBs new to the cloud who still want a physical on-premise server.

“On the hardware side, we’re now engaging with end users and we’re seeing this wish from small customers to have a local appliance to shadow the data from the cloud, have backup capabilities and run a few apps that don’t run well in the cloud,” adds Mark Adams from reseller Infostrata Solutions.

“You can manage this on their behalf, with utility servers in the cloud. It’s a step into the cloud rather than a jump.”

Microsoft UK marketing manager Alexandria Ball says Office 365 or OneDrive are good places to start.

We’re seeing that OneDrive is a really good first step into the cloud for a lot of customers,” she says. “It’s essentially extra storage for a device. And we do have specific SKUs just for OneDrive, so it’s a really good option as a first step.”

Microsoft’s cloud services are available to sell through distributors such as Ingram Micro, Tech Data and Westcoast. 

To get started, check out the Ingram Micro microsite or email the team on cloud@ingrammicro.co.uk, visit the Tech Data microsite or email the team on microsoft.annuity@techdata.co.uk, or you can check out Westcoast resources via Office 365 worldtraining via the Westcoast bus or email the team on hosting@westcoast.co.uk.

2. Video: Microsoft’s Brent Combest on selling cloud services

3. Top five reasons for selling cloud services

Brent Combest, Microsoft's Worldwide Director of Cloud Sales & Strategy, SMB, offers his tips.

1. Make more money

“For partners, it represents a great chance for them to transform their business from a revenue and profit standpoint. If you think about the way that the annuity model works, you can create – with managed services and packaged IP – your own annuity stream that is going to drive much higher levels of growth. In the study that we did with IDC, based on 709 partners surveyed, the average partner that had more than 50 per cent of revenue from the cloud is seeing profit levels 1.6 times higher than their peers.”

2. Give your customers enterprise-grade tech

“When I think about customers, the first thing the cloud does is it democratises IT. As a small business you have to access to the same level of technology that tremendous companies do, like Japan Airlines for example. And it’s now readily available in a more consumable way from a financial standpoint for end customers. It’s enterprise-grade solutions that they’re going to have access to. So I’d make sure that they understand how to convey that message to customers very clearly.”

3. Grow faster

“The average partner that had more than 50 per cent of revenue from the cloud is also growing at a rate of 2.4 times faster than their peers. If I think about my business, if I’m a partner today, and I sell licensed revenue on premise in time with material services, every dollar that I sell come the new fiscal year, I have to start over again back at zero. But if I have an annuity business model, with every customer I add, my business grows. That’s what drives that faster, more accelerated growth rate.”

4. Save your customers money

“There’s a change in the total cost of ownership make-up for end customers. For example, no longer do I have to procure a server. I can preserve that working capital as an end customer to do other important things with my business. I also have the guarantee of 99.9 per cent uptimes so I don’t have to worry about productivity loss by a server being down or improperly managed. I know that in the datacenter that Microsoft is running I can trust that this solution is going to work for me on a regular routine basis.”

5. Upgrade quickly and easily

“If a customer is running technology that they have had in place for many years, if they’re running an Exchange 2003 environment or they’re running an older version of Office, this is going to be a chance for them to upgrade into a new environment. And then from there, once they become a subscriber, they’re always going to have the latest and greatest technology. They’re going to have access to that without having to make big investments and server upgrades and things like that further down the road.”

4. What to sell to customers

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Here’s a round up of Microsoft’s cloud products and services:

Office 365

This is a subscription-based product that lets users or businesses view, create, edit and print Office documents from different devices remotely. Microsoft recently announced that all Office 365 customers will now get unlimited OneDrive cloud file storage at no additional cost.

Related products include Microsoft Exchange Online, providing the benefits of cloud-based email with an on-premises Microsoft Exchange server, Microsoft SharePoint Online which provides a Microsoft Office 365 service for businesses of all sizes, communication and collaboration tool Microsoft Lync, and enterprise social network Yammer.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM

This is a customer relationship management (CRM) business solution that drives sales productivity and marketing effectiveness through social insights, business intelligence, and campaign management in the cloud, on-premises, or with a hybrid combination.

Microsoft Intune

Intune lets you manage your devices from the cloud or while connected to an existing System Center Configuration Manager infrastructure. It helps organisations provide their employees with access to corporate applications, data, and resources from virtually anywhere on almost any device, while helping to keep corporate information secure.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables customers to build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed data centres. It lets businesses integrate their public cloud applications with their current IT environment and build applications using any language, tool or framework.

Cloud OS

Microsoft Cloud OS brings together on-premises solutions with a cloud platform to create a hybrid solution that promises to be responsive and accessible.

5. What support can resellers receive from Microsoft?

Partner changes

Microsoft has launched new cloud competencies, allowing resellers to sell Office 365 to 10 new customers over the next 12 months. The silver competency is currently free and gives partners access for internal usage rights and unlimited cloud support.

On October 1st Microsoft also made available a set of Office 365 plans tailored to meet the needs of SMBs ranging in size from one person to around 250 employees.

Microsoft also recently launched a 'cloud in the box' product with Dell, and 

Distributor investments

Microsoft is investing in people and activities in its distributors (Westcoast, Ingram Micro and Tech Data) and Microsoft UK. It has a team dedicated to bringing new partners on board Office 365 and Azure and transitioning them to an authorised distributor. Each distie has its own specialists, resources and promotions.

Online resources

There’s a host of materials, articles and resources online which Microsoft regularly updates to help resellers get started in selling cloud, and keep track of the latest changes. It has a SureStep programme for new partners, with resources on the Microsoft Partner Network UK Blog.

Cloud roadshows

Microsoft is running a cloud roadshow across 16 locations, from London to Liverpool. It started in September and will run until December 9th. Each roadshow session will cover Office 365, Azure, CRM Online and Windows 8.1, with Cloud Development Managers and guest speakers covering various topics.

Future Decoded events

This is a series of new events taking place in ExCel London. November 10th will have speakers including Satya Nadella and Sir Bob Geldof, and will be focused around Microsoft’s enterprise technologies. November 11th is dedicated to partners, with different tracks on marketing, sales, products and licensing. November 12th is for IT professionals and developers, and will be more technically focused. 

Nov 10th Customer Event – free registration

Nov 11th Partner Event – free registration

Nov 12th Technical Event – free registration

For more information, check out the upcoming November issue of PCR for our cloud reseller roundtable and full interview with Microsoft’s Brent Combest

Image source: Shutterstock

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