By Tyler Kee, Senior Cloud Solutions Architect
As a Cloud Solutions Architect, my prime directive is to enable partners to grow their value within their client’s organizations. Our most successful partners are those that have shifted from “The Network Guy” to a role as a Technical Business Partner. In that role, they enable their clients to succeed and the partner’s success quickly follows. A successful Technical Business Partner does two things very well:
First, they “meet their customer where they are” – they put themselves in their customer’s seat and figure out what success looks like. In my experience, the strongest partners in our ecosystem find a solution that answers at least one of the following questions:
- Does it enable the customer to make more money?
- Does it enable the customer to spend less money?
- Does it enable the customer to spend money differently?
No matter how good a piece of technology might be, if it doesn’t result in a “yes” to at least one of the questions above, the CFO won’t bless the contract.
According to a recent survey by Computer Economics, operating expenditures are growing, capital expenditures are shrinking, and overall IT spending is up. The same survey indicates that annual IT spending per-user has increased in the last year from $6,987 to $7,988. Take a look at your customer base, multiply the number of employees by $8000 and compare it to the share of wallet you currently own. There’s undoubtedly money on the table.
Two thirds of respondents in Computer Economics’ survey indicated that they considered Security, Cloud Applications, and Cloud Infrastructure as top spending priorities for the next year. There’s your share of wallet.
The second thing that successful Technical Business Partners do is avoid something you’ve experienced but never named.
“When forward movement is restricted and retreat is impossible, you have found yourself mudsucked.” So starts a very important lesson passed to me from a close friend, mentor, and Navy SEAL. He knows a thing or two about winning and has taught me over the years that sometimes, the best way to win is to avoid the possibility of loss from the outset.
There is a great deal of temptation when discussing Cloud to dive into the speeds and feeds of a solution. This is a “mudsuck.” Your customer either doesn’t care (see above about money), or knows more than you do and will quickly make you feel that pain. Neither scenario bodes well for your ability to add value. Customers want to hear how a cloud application or service can help them accomplish business objectives, not a comparison of Amazon AWS with Microsoft Azure.
The Network is Your Icebreaker!
The network is a fantastic wedge to use while broadening the scope of your conversation. You “own” the network. You know where all the datacenters are and their approximate size, scope, and location. Use this information to discuss your customer’s plans for future capacity. While you’re there, ask how successful their adoption of Amazon, Azure, or Google has been.
You’ve no doubt spoken with your customer about SD-WAN. One of the biggest drivers of SD-WAN adoption is the technology’s positive impact on application performance. Ask what applications will be impacted by a SD-WAN implementation.
You owe it to your customer as part of a network project to discuss security. This is an easy conversation to start as security is a top consideration for IT leaders. Simply ask what compliance frameworks they’ll be operating under in the new year and go from there.
Go with what you know
Conversations about Cloud are broad, deep, and potentially lucrative. Successful partners navigate this conversation by using the network as their entry point and steering clear of technical discussions that don’t contribute value to the bottom line.
About Tyler Kee
As Senior Cloud Solutions Architect for PlanetOne, Tyler Kee interfaces with channel partners and providers to build their cloud business and expand their customer relationships.