The cloud train has left the station. If your customers haven’t already jumped on board, they’re about to. In 2016, more than half of IT organizations devoted 15+ percent of their budget to cloud, and nearly 80 percent began implementing, piloting or planning for cloud-based environments.
As attractive as cloud is — think fast time-to-deployment, scalability, reduced maintenance, up-to-date software, dramatically lower capital outlay—there is one aspect that consistently worries businesses and, I’ll bet, keeps your customers up at night: security.
Fears of unauthorized access, stolen identities, data and privacy loss, and confidentiality and compliance issues, are rising right along with cloud adoption. So it’s no surprise that the cloud security market is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 15 percent and be worth US$8.7 billion by 2019.
This presents an enormous opportunity for you. The question is, how can you jumpstart a successful cloud security practice?
- Act fast, but plan fully
I’m all for striking while the iron’s hot. But you can’t go in blindly. Probably the biggest mistake resellers make is rushing into cloud security without having created the best portfolio and ensuring that your sales team is correctly structured and has the required skills, that your marketing efforts are aligned with sales, and that your operations can support a recurring-revenue, cloud security services model.
- Offer the most essential and fastest-growing cloud security solutions
The best way to strengthen your customers’ security posture and capitalize on the cloud opportunity is to ensure your portfolio is made up of the most critical and fast-growing security segments. In other words, the type of products your customers must have – like threat protection, threat intelligence, web security, web application firewall, network forensics and encryption.
You also want to make sure the products in your portfolio complement one another. This will enable you to sell security solutions, as opposed to just point products, which is a much more lucrative approach. It also lends to having more of a consultative role with your customers.
Keep in mind that not all these products will come from established vendors. It’s important to also consider emerging vendors and born-in-the-cloud vendors who not only provide key innovative technologies, but also typically deliver higher profit potential and services opportunities. In any case, make sure you vet all the vendors. Your customers depend on you to do so.
- Boost your cloud security expertise
If security is done wrong, your customers’ business could be at risk. If they don’t view you as a trusted advisor, they’re not likely to buy from you, even if you do have a great portfolio.
A security-savvy distributor can be a big help here. Not only can its engineering experts train your staff and recommend external training and certificate programs, they can augment your team, consulting, on your behalf, with your customers. That way, you can more quickly pursue new business and effectively support new customers, even if you haven’t had time to hire and develop a top-flight in-house team. Distributors can also help you establish closer relationships with those key security vendors, who can help shore-up your expertise.
- Structure and incent your sales team for the cloud
The traditional product/transactional model your reseller business is likely built upon, and your sales team is familiar with, is quite different from recurring-revenue cloud models.
If your organization is focused and incented on generating transactional revenue, it won’t change its behavior to favor recurring revenue sales. But at the same time, you don’t want to distract your performers – the ones who have been driving your business. So keep them focused on legacy transaction-based revenue and one-time implementation projects, and set up another separate, dedicated cloud sales team.
You also need to create a new cloud security compensation plan. To develop an effective plan, avoid the following:
- Adding “cloud quota” to an existing sales plan
- Only slightly modifying a transaction-centric sales plan
- Not changing or altering your existing sales model
- Not aligning the sales plan with your organization’s business goals
- Creating a sales plan that does not generate sufficient income
- Allowing sales professionals to achieve income objectives without delivering cloud and recurring revenue service numbers
(For more insights on how to build a cloud sales team, download the whitepaper “Five Best Practices for Building a Successful Reseller Cloud Sales Team.”)
- Don’t let operational complexities slow you down
In order to scale, you need to be able to onboard customers and process orders quickly while controlling costs. Look for digital logistics systems that support order capture, fulfillment and invoicing for cloud and on-premises through a single solution. Otherwise, you risk being bogged down with tasks that are fragmented, manual, time-consuming and error-prone.
One more tip: SLAs for long-term, cloud subscription-based relationships are different than traditional, one-time-transaction sales. Make sure you understand those differences up front so you can successfully and cost-effectively fulfill those SLAs.
To learn more about how you can accelerate your cloud security sales, contact Westcon-Comstor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blog by Matt Karst, Senior Director, Cloud Practice, Westcon-Comstor