When speaking with enterprise buyers about cloud solutions, chances are you hear the same questions coming up over and over again. What about compliance? What about security and risk? Does it come with any kind of guarantee?
Even beyond these practical concerns, there are also any number of intangible barriers facing cloud salespeople. For instance, one study found that only 18% of B2B buyers would classify the salespeople they work with as trusted advisors who they respect. And if buyers don’t believe you in the first place, it’s going to be pretty hard to effectively overcome their objections. No doubt that’s part of the reason why only about 40% of enterprises today have adopted cloud solutions.
So you’ve got your work cut out for you if you want to move more deals into the closed-won column. In this article, we break down best practices to help you deliver results, whether your goal is to gain a foothold in the remaining 60% of companies out there, or simply to expand your footprint in existing accounts.
Don’t swing for the fences right off the bat. Instead, help your prospects choose applications that are right for them and will deliver value in the short term. Especially if you’re dealing with a prospect with limited—or zero—experience with previous cloud implementation, you should start small.
Allan Brearley, cloud practice leader at ECS, suggests starting with a small pathfinder project to lay a framework for the accelerated adoption of cloud downstream. “Suitable pathfinder candidates might be an application currently hosted on-premise that can be migrated to the cloud,” he says, “or a new application/service that is being developed in-house to run in the cloud from day one.”
This is also a smart way for you to identify and address any implementation-related challenges—for instance, difficulty with data migration—and solve them on a smaller, more manageable scale. And once your prospect gets more comfortable and begins to see the value of the investment, it becomes that much easier to ramp them up and expand the scope of the engagement.
Position yourself as an innovation partner
Given the trust issues around selling cloud based solutions, it’s important to position yourself not just as selling one cloud solution, but as understanding the state of cloud adoption as a whole.
According to a recent study by CIO Magazine, when CIOs and business technology leaders were asked how the changing technology landscape will affect their career path, “74 percent say they expect their primary role in the next two years to have changed or have begun to change from directly managing IT to becoming an innovation partner.” Helping to drive innovation requires approaching your clients and prospects with an empathetic understanding of their business objectives.
Regularly publishing authoritative content that is specific, tangible, and actionable will help you develop your brand as a trusted partner who understands the changing industry. When you do land a meeting with your prospect, you’ll need to be able to speak to the entire cloud ecosystem—not only the key features of your product, but what what competitors are offering, and what the space is going to look like, say, five years in the future. Taking a future-centric approach to your pitch will help set the stage for you to demonstrate your mastery of the subject.
Address specific pain-points by audience
For most cloud-based solutions, the purchasing agreements include an annual contract—and indeed, that’s a major reason why CFOs and other finance leaders invariably get involved. So how can you hope to gain buy-in from IT and finance alike?
Shift your customer’s focus from managing IT to using it for business benefit. The key is dexterity – tailor your pitch to match the business goals of each audience group. Too many sellers discuss benefits without understanding stakeholder’s unique challenges realistically and honestly. What benefits finance is probably not that important to engineering.
So when speaking to a senior-level stakeholders on the finance side, don’t use the same generic cloud message about speed and scalability. Instead, double-down on how your solution reduces capital and operational expenses, and explain that streamlining IT operations is only a secondary benefit of the cloud.
Still struggling? Check out more tips for expert sales pitches from Fortune 500 MarTech and IT buyers.
Emphasize the evolutionary, not revolutionary
Today’s cloud solutions can dramatically improve operational efficiency, enabling organizations to leverage economies of scale in ways never before possible. While all of that may sound revolutionary, in reality the path to the present moment has been characterized by ongoing, iterative technological improvement and progress—a message that is far more likely to land with prospects.
After all, big-picture enterprise change doesn’t happen overnight, either, but rather in a series of phased, managed roll-outs. Snow Software’s recent publication on cloud innovation says, “to succeed in the digital era, CIOs and their IT teams must become the go-to people for business units looking to fast-track new technology adoption, to drive great deals with new or existing vendors and to create links between the efforts of different business units.”
Position your solution as the next wave in what has been, and will be, ongoing evolution within the cloud space. The Darwinian subtext—companies that fail to adapt to this evolution will be left behind—won’t be lost on your buyer.
Message cloud as a shift in risk, not an addition of risk
Most businesses today are deeply concerned about cybersecurity and risk, and that creates unique challenges for cloud solution salespeople—especially when 62% of IT decision makers in large enterprises say that on-premise security is stronger than cloud security. Simply put, you’ll have to allay these concerns before any deal goes through.
So try to frame your cloud solution as a strategic shift in risk, not an addition of risk. The idea is that by investing in you as a provider, the enterprise buyer is essentially offloading risk onto you.
If you feel like you’re still not making any headway, you might offer a tailored solution in which your company and the enterprise share joint responsibility for managing security and risk.
From security and risk to cost and lack of trust, cloud salespeople face a raft of daunting concerns to overcome if they ever hope to move deals to closed-won. Indeed, that’s a big part of the reason cloud adoption among enterprises is still only around 40%. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t strategies you can use to generate better results. In this article, our Emissaries—experienced MarTech and IT buyers from Fortune 500 companies—break down five cloud sales best practices to help you deliver, and receive, more value.