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The New Year is full of fresh starts, new resolutions, and for many, new business goals and objectives. If cloud is part of your business goals for the New Year, we hope you had a chance to enjoy our Let’s Face Cloud Together blog series, which provided valuable best practices to position your cloud practice for success. Our blog series was topped-off with a virtual panel, where we featured our Tech Data Cloud Coaches, subject matter experts in a wide range of areas of cloud, with whom our partners can request a virtual meeting from the Cloud Coach directory.

The virtual panel provided a chance to hear learn from a wide range of our cloud coaches how to grow a cloud business from a holistic perspective, taking into account critical areas related to cloud, including business development, including business strategy, services, training and enablement, marketing and sales execution.

Weren’t able to watch the virtual panel live? You can view the panel on-demand here.

 

Here are my six takeaways from the panel, sure to help anyone looking to seize a fresh cloud strategy in the New Year:
  1. Develop a cloud strategy.

If you’re new to cloud, having a documented cloud strategy based on your core competencies and the key solutions you offer, as well as ensuring your organization is on the same page, is essential for successful execution. During the panel, John Frey, our Business Strategy Coach, recommended making use of our simple three-step Cloud Practice Builder program to help you map out your strategy and carry it out quickly and efficiently. Furthermore, John mentioned you could avoid delaying your cloud strategy due to lack of in-house skills and knowledge by partnering with cloud experts, such as Tech Data’s Cloud and Automation team, who can help you deliver cloud services immediately with success.

  1. Right-size your end customer’s cloud solution by offering cloud services.

Today, it is less about selling a particular product with fancy features, and more about becoming a trusted advisor and delivering personalized value to your customers by helping them solve for their business outcomes.

Adding cloud services to your portfolio, which includes automation and integration services, and the ability to span the customer lifecycle, including assess, migrate and manage workloads, can help you build customer loyalty by seamlessly tying together software, cloud providers and other vendors into a comprehensive solution specific to your customer’s unique needs. Best of all, cloud services have a higher margin than resell (a win-win situation for cloud service providers).

  1. Develop a targeted marketing plan.

For many businesses, especially those without a dedicated marketing resource, it’s easy to get in the habit of “random acts of marketing,” such as sending an arbitrary email blast to a purchased mailing list, or exhibiting at a tradeshow just “because”.

Kathy Schauer, our Marketing Strategy Coach, shared three things you can include in your marketing plan to reduce waste of capital and maximize your ROI: (1) identify your key customer and find out where to invest your marketing dollar based on their profile; (2) create a compelling value proposition that differentiates you from your competitors; and (3) set clear measurable objectives and keep track of your performance – this will help you better understand leads it takes to convert to an opportunity. Keeping track on a simple spreadsheet can help you strategize for the future and identify future opportunities.

  1. Upskill your team (including your sales resources)

To deliver cloud services and solutions, you must have a team well-versed in it. Technical resources are at the top of the list and can begin their journey by demonstrating their cloud expertise through vendor certifications. Your technical resources can utilize education programs, such as Tech Data’s ExitCertified to prepare for certification examinations and meeting additional requirements. ExitCertified offers live and online courses at a great rate to Tech Data partners for every solution.

But you shouldn’t end your training efforts with your technical team. It’s also important to invest in the education of other resources within your organization, noted Courtney Freed, our Microsoft Training and Enablement Coach. It’s important that your sales team understand how to have the cloud conversation and build a reputation as a trusted cloud advisor with their customer base.

“Tech Data and Microsoft have partnered to offer SureStep+ as a simple source to help start, grow and optimize your cloud business, and includes everything that a sales, organization or marketing would need to get up to speed with Microsoft and Microsoft Cloud services,” said Courtney.

  1. Take advantage of vendor partner programs

Even if you have made a deliberate effort to grow your cloud practice, it can take time to lift it off the ground. Many vendors such as AWS, have partner programs that are designed to help partners grow their capabilities and expertise with a particular vendor. Progressing through the AWS Partner Network tiers help you nurture your capabilities and showcase your expertise to prospective customers. However, even with this support available, navigating these structures can be difficult to navigate. To shorten your ramp-up time, you can connect with a Tech Data Cloud Training & Enablement Coach from the Cloud Coach directory to get started on the right path.

  1. Place a spotlight on your sales team trailblazers

Selling cloud is drastically different from traditional hardware sales, and it’s important to secure buy-in from your sales team to make cloud a profitable reality. Some will doubt the value of cloud, simply because it does not afford the lump-sum payout of traditional hardware and is based on incremental revenue. A great way to prepare your sales team for success is to find your sales trailblazers and showcase their success.

“It’s a great way to motivate others to understand the importance and profitability of cloud, and understand they can start an annuity based business, starting the month with some GDP in the bank,” said Tobey Amy, our Sales Execution Cloud Coach.

Seeking more cloud wisdom?

If you are looking for a sense of direction, specialized knowledge or inspiration for your cloud business, don’t hesitate to request a meeting with our Tech Data Cloud Coaches and to check the directory often, as it is growing with new experts every day. We know cloud can be uncomfortable, face it together with Tech Data Cloud.