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Closing a cloud deal shouldn’t be about the solution

Channel StrategyCloud

PHOENIX – Cloud computing may have added to the complexity of IT, but it also has added to the complexity of closing deals for solution providers.

Mike Baer, managing partner for Franklin Covey, said at the 2013 Cloud Summit hosted by Ingram Micro that there are new skills solution providers need to learn to close cloud deals.

“The ‘I’ is what everyone sees and not some much the ‘R’ in ROI. The ‘I’ does not go away, but the ‘R’ becomes more important,” Baer added.

Baer suggested that solution providers should ask two questions when addressing customers on the cloud:

  • Do you know what the most important business issues are for your customer?
  • What is the impact, or worst-case scenario, if those issues are not solved?

PowerPoint slide presentations must also change because of the cloud. Baer told the story of a solution provider who was planning on showing an 80-slide PowerPoint during a 45-minute meeting. Baer helped this company reduce the slide deck to 17 slides, but he also changed the approach of the presentation. The first 80-slide deck mentioned the customer on slide 47. Baer said that was far too late to introduce the customer. By talking about the customer right away in the presentation, the solution provider ended up winning 80 per cent of the business opportunity with the 17-point slide deck.

Baer also provided new statistics from Franklin Covey research that showed the real reasons why customers choose a solution provider. Surprisingly, technology does not rank high.

The first reason a customer chooses a solution provider are:

  1. Business relationships;
  2. Industry experience;
  3. How  the deal team gets along in front of the customer; and
  4. The technology solution.

However, most solution providers lead with the technology solution, Baer added.

“You need to move away from this approach and be different. You still need the technology solution, but the win rate is between five and 17 per cent if you lead with technology first. Move off the solution and structure a business conversation,” Baer said.

Clients of Franklin Covey have said there was a 58 per cent increase in identifying that exactly meet client’s need; 64 per cent increased their ability to identify low probability opportunities and move off of them; 108 per cent increased getting clients to disclose budgets early in the process; 76 per cent increased their chances of getting in front of a decision maker; 80 per cent of those clients were able to handle price objections better; and 76 per cent were able to improve their company’s  overall skills.

Baer also described the profile of a winning opportunity for solution providers:

  1. Clients say they should be specific about the importance of the challenges and the desired results.
  2. Know how clients measure success.
  3. Know for sure what has kept clients from fixing the problem themselves.
  4. Discuss the decision process with clients including time, people and money.

“You need to make your message more compelling. Customers want solutions early and fast and so do you. Move off the solution. Sales people who resist the urge to talk about the technology first are significantly more successful,” Baer said.