Understanding how to Successfully Sell the Cloud

By:   |   Updated: 2023-04-14   |   Comments   |   Related: > Cloud Strategy


Problem

Cloud technology is playing a pivotal role in driving business transformation across a range of industries. It enables businesses to scale quickly and easily to meet changing customer needs, improve efficiency and productivity, and reduce costs. It also allows companies to leverage advanced analytics and machine learning to gain insights and drive innovation. The cloud has become an increasingly important technology for businesses looking to drive digital transformation and realize the benefits of flexible, scalable, and cost-effective IT infrastructure. However, many businesses are hesitant to adopt cloud technology due to security, cost, and complexity concerns. This can make it challenging for organizations to sell the benefits of the cloud and drive change within their organizations, leading to missed opportunities for cost savings, efficiency improvements, and innovation.

Solution

To successfully sell the cloud, it is important to understand the key drivers and barriers to adoption and to develop a clear strategy for building support and buy-in. This may involve conducting market research to understand the needs and pain points of potential customers, leveraging personal and corporate brands to establish credibility and influence, and utilizing effective sales and marketing strategies to reach and engage potential customers.

Benefits of the Cloud

The cloud has revolutionized how businesses operate and deliver value to their customers while enhancing employee performance. It offers a range of benefits that can help businesses to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and drive innovation. Some of the key benefits of the cloud include increased scalability, cost savings, improved security, enhanced collaboration, and the ability to leverage advanced analytics and machine learning. With the cloud, businesses can access the computing resources they need on a pay-as-you-go basis, eliminating the need for upfront investment in hardware and software and reducing ongoing maintenance and support costs. It also enables businesses to scale up or down quickly and easily to meet changing demands and to leverage advanced analytics and machine learning to gain insights and drive innovation.

Some of these numerous benefits to be gained from adopting cloud technologies include:

  1. Increased scalability: With the cloud, businesses can quickly scale up or down to meet changing demand without significant upfront investment in hardware and software. This scalability extends to numerous cloud services, including data, infrastructure, integrations, and more.
  2. Cost savings: Cloud computing can help businesses reduce their IT costs by eliminating the need for upfront investment in hardware and software and reducing ongoing maintenance and support costs. Furthermore, pay-as-you-go models limit financial burden by supporting deep pre-purchase discounts and granular usage-based payment models.
  3. Improved security: Cloud providers typically invest heavily in security measures to protect customer data, which can be a significant advantage for businesses that may not have the resources to invest in similar efforts. These enhanced security offerings support audit readiness, governance, and quality enhancement requirements.
  4. Enhanced collaboration and productivity: Cloud-based tools and platforms can enable remote teams to collaborate more effectively and increase productivity through effective change management tools.

Funding and Buy-In for using the Cloud

Selling the cloud and influencing change within your business may require obtaining funding and buy-in from key decision-makers. This can involve developing a strong business case that clearly articulates the benefits of the cloud and the potential impacts on the business. It may also involve leveraging financial modeling tools to show the potential cost savings and return on investment (ROI) that can be achieved by adopting cloud technology.

To help secure funding and buy-in for a cloud project, it can be helpful to gather input and support from key stakeholders, including IT leaders, business unit leaders, and finance professionals. Collecting case studies and testimonials from other businesses that have successfully implemented cloud solutions can also be beneficial to demonstrate the potential benefits and provide a roadmap for success.

Here are some key steps to consider when seeking buy-in and funding for your project:

  1. Develop a strong business case: It is important to articulate clearly the benefits of the cloud and how it can help your organization achieve its goals. This includes identifying specific pain points or challenges the cloud can help solve and quantifying the potential cost savings and ROI achieved through cloud technology.
  2. Gather input and support from key stakeholders: Engaging key stakeholders within your organization, such as IT leaders, business unit leaders, and finance professionals, can help to build support for your project and ensure that all relevant perspectives are considered.
  3. Leverage financial modeling tools: Utilizing financial modeling tools, such as a cost-benefit analysis or ROI calculation, can help demonstrate the potential financial benefits of the cloud and make a strong case for funding.
  4. Gather case studies and testimonials: Sharing case studies and testimonials from other organizations that have successfully implemented cloud solutions can help to demonstrate the potential benefits and provide a roadmap for success.
  5. Develop a clear implementation plan: Outlining a clear and detailed implementation plan, including timelines, budgets, and critical milestones, can build confidence in the project and demonstrate that you have a solid plan.
  6. Build a strong team: A strong team of experts to help execute the project can be crucial for success. This may include in-house IT staff and external partners or consultants with experience in cloud implementations. You will gain support potential if you demonstrate a sound and cost-efficient plan for building a team for your proposed cloud transformation project.
  7. Communicate effectively: Clear and effective communication is key to obtaining buy-in and funding for a cloud transformation project. This includes keeping key stakeholders informed about the progress of any POC or MVP projects, addressing any concerns or questions that may arise, and being transparent about any challenges or setbacks.

Making the Case for the Cloud in RFPs

Another important aspect of selling the cloud is Requests for Proposals (RFPs). RFPs are a common way for organizations to solicit proposals from vendors and select a provider for a specific project or service. The response should clearly articulate the value proposition of the cloud and how it can meet the specific needs and goals of the customer. This may involve highlighting the benefits of the cloud, such as scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness, and demonstrating how the cloud can support the customer's analytics efforts and business transformation goals.

When creating an RFP for a cloud transformation initiative, here are some tips that you can follow:

  1. Clearly define your goals and objectives: It is important to define your goals and objectives for the cloud transformation project, including any specific business challenges or pain points you seek to address. This will help vendors to understand your needs and tailor their proposals to meet your requirements.
  2. Outline your requirements: Outline the specific requirements for the cloud transformation project, including any specific technologies or capabilities you seek. This will help vendors understand the project's scope and determine whether they have the necessary expertise and resources to meet your needs.
  3. Specify any constraints or limitations: Specify any conditions or restrictions that may impact the cloud transformation project, such as budget, timelines, or regulatory requirements. This will help vendors to understand the context in which the project will be delivered and tailor their proposals accordingly.
  4. Determine the evaluation criteria: Determine the criteria used to evaluate proposals from vendors and consultants. This may include cost, technical capabilities, experience, and references.
  5. Set a timeline: Set a timeline for the RFP process, including deadlines for submitting proposals and a timeline for evaluating and selecting a vendor.

Here is a sample cloud transformation RFP that you can use as a starting point for creating your own RFP:

Title:

Cloud Transformation RFP

Introduction:

XYZ Company seeks proposals from qualified vendors and consultants to help us with our cloud transformation project. Our goal is to migrate our current on-premises systems and applications to the cloud, to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and drive innovation. We are looking for a partner to help us successfully navigate this transition and provide ongoing support and optimization.

Scope of Work:

The scope of work for this project includes the following:

  • Assessing our current systems and applications to determine which are suitable for migration to the cloud
  • Developing a comprehensive cloud migration plan, including timelines, budgets, and key milestones
  • Migrating our systems and applications to the cloud, including data migration, application testing, and integration with existing systems
  • Providing ongoing support and optimization to ensure that our systems and applications are running smoothly and efficiently in the cloud

Requirements:

The following requirements must be met by all vendors and consultants submitting proposals:

  • Demonstrated experience in cloud transformation projects, including a track record of successful migrations and ongoing support and optimization.
  • Expertise in various cloud technologies, including AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.
  • Ability to provide ongoing support and optimization services, including troubleshooting, performance monitoring, and optimization.
  • Ability to work closely with our internal teams and stakeholders to ensure a smooth and successful transition to the cloud.
  • Strong project management skills and ability to deliver projects on time and within budget

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
  • Relevance of past experience and expertise to the scope of work outlined above
  • Quality and comprehensiveness of the proposed solution
  • Cost and overall value for money
  • Ability to meet our timeline and budget constraints
  • Strength of references and testimonials

Timeline:

  • RFP submission deadline: January 31, 2022
  • Evaluation and selection of vendor: February 15 - March 1, 2022
  • Project kick-off: March 15, 2022

Inclusions:

  • Detailed description of your solution
  • Relevant case studies and references
  • Cost estimate for the project

RFP Responses

Suppose you are a vendor or consultant responding to a cloud transformation RFP. In that case, it is important to create a comprehensive and compelling proposal that demonstrates your capabilities and expertise in delivering cloud transformation solutions. Here are some tips for creating a successful cloud transformation RFP document:

  1. Thoroughly review the RFP: Review the RFP document to ensure that you fully understand the goals and objectives of the project, as well as the requirements and constraints outlined by the customer. This will help you tailor your proposal to meet the customer's needs.
  2. Highlight your relevant experience and expertise: Demonstrate your relevant experience and expertise in delivering cloud transformation solutions by highlighting any relevant case studies or examples of past projects. This can help to build confidence in your ability to deliver the project successfully.
  3. Outline your proposed solution: Outline your proposed solution for the cloud transformation project, including any specific technologies or approaches that you plan to use. Be sure to clearly explain how your solution will address the particular needs and challenges of the customer and how it will deliver value and meet their goals.
  4. Provide detailed cost estimates: Provide detailed cost estimates for the cloud transformation project, including any ongoing maintenance or support costs. Be sure to clearly explain how these costs were calculated and what is included in the estimate.
  5. Address any concerns or objections: Address any potential concerns or objections the customer may have about your proposed solution. This may involve addressing technical questions, any concerns about the cost or complexity of the solution, or any concerns about the impact on existing systems or processes.
  6. Include references and testimonials: Include references and testimonials from past clients to help build credibility and demonstrate the value of your services.

The key to creating a successful cloud transformation RFP document as a vendor or consultant is to thoroughly understand the customer's needs and challenges and clearly demonstrate how your solution will meet those needs and deliver value.

Presales Steps

As a vendor or consultant, the presales process is a critical step in the sales cycle, as it helps to build support and buy-in for the proposed solution and sets the stage for a successful sale. Here are the main steps and strategies for presales of cloud and digital transformation:

  1. Identify the customer's needs and pain points: This may involve conducting market research, gathering customer feedback, and analyzing the customer's current business processes and systems.
  2. Develop a solution: Based on the customer's needs and pain points, develop a solution that addresses these challenges and delivers value to the customer. This may involve creating a detailed proposal or presentation outlining the proposed solution's benefits and capabilities.
  3. Demonstrate the value of the solution: To build support and buy-in for the proposed solution, it is important to clearly demonstrate the value it can deliver to the customer. This may involve highlighting the specific features and capabilities of the solution, as well as the potential cost savings and business value it can deliver.
  4. Address any concerns or objections: During the presales process, it is important to anticipate and address any concerns or objections the customer may have about the proposed solution. This may involve addressing technical questions, any concerns about the cost or complexity of the solution, or any concerns about the impact on existing systems or processes.
  5. Close the deal: Once you have demonstrated the value of the proposed solution and addressed any concerns or objections, it is time to close the deal. This may involve negotiating the terms of the sale and finalizing any contracts or agreements.

Overall, the key to successful presales of cloud and digital transformation is to understand the customer's needs and challenges and to clearly demonstrate the value and benefits of the proposed solution.

Business Development to Sell the Cloud

Business development is essential to selling the cloud and influencing organizational change. This may involve identifying new opportunities for using the cloud, such as new markets or business areas, and developing strategies to pursue those opportunities. It may also include building relationships with key stakeholders and partners, such as system integrators and consulting firms, to help drive the adoption of the cloud within the organization.

Effective go-to-market (GTM) strategies are critical for selling the cloud and influencing change. They are a crucial element of any successful sales and marketing plan. From the perspective of a consultancy or vendor, this can involve developing marketing and sales materials that clearly communicate the benefits of the cloud, as well as training sales teams and other stakeholders on how to communicate these benefits to customers effectively. From the perspective of an industry organization, this can involve developing partnerships and alliances to help drive the adoption of the cloud within the organization. When selling cloud transformation, several strategies can effectively reach industry customers and influence change within your organization. Here are some examples of GTM strategies that can be effective in selling cloud transformation:

  1. Identify target customers and segments: Identifying specific customers and segments can help focus your efforts and resources on the most promising opportunities. This may involve conducting market research to understand potential customers' needs and pain points and developing targeted messaging and marketing materials to speak directly to these audiences. For example, a consultant can focus their GTM strategies on a specific industry vertical such as healthcare or education, and demonstrate targeted benefits and tangible wins based on industry pain points. For internal organization customers, you could follow a similar approach with the added advantage of tailoring the solutions to pain points prevalent within various departments.
  2. Develop a value proposition: A strong value proposition can help to differentiate your offering and communicate the unique benefits of your cloud transformation solution. This may include highlighting the specific features and capabilities of your solution, as well as the potential cost savings and business value it can deliver.
  3. Leverage partnerships and alliances: Building partnerships and alliances with complementary companies and organizations can help to expand your reach and credibility. This may involve co-marketing, co-selling efforts, or collaborating on joint events or initiatives.
  4. Utilize digital marketing and social media: Digital marketing and social media can be powerful tools for reaching customers and building brand awareness. This may involve developing a strong online presence through a company website, social media accounts, or online communities and leveraging digital advertising or content marketing to reach potential customers.
  5. Use sales enablement tools and resources: Sales enablement tools and resources, such as sales collateral, proposals, and demonstrations, can help to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales efforts. These tools can help to demonstrate the value and capabilities of your cloud transformation solution to customers and can also be used to educate and influence internal stakeholders.
  6. Implement a customer success program: A customer success program can help ensure that customers realize the full benefits of your cloud transformation solution and can also serve as a key selling point to potential customers. This may involve ongoing training, support, and resources to help customers succeed with your solution.

Summary

Understanding how to sell the cloud successfully is critical for organizations looking to leverage the many benefits that cloud technologies offer. By understanding the key drivers and barriers to adoption and by developing a clear strategy for building support and buy-in, organizations can effectively sell the cloud and drive meaningful business transformation.

Next Steps
  • Read more about Cloud adoption to accelerate IT modernization | McKinsey
  • Conduct market research to understand the needs and challenges of potential customers
  • Leverage personal and corporate brands to establish credibility and influence
  • Utilize effective sales and marketing strategies to reach and engage potential customers
  • Prepare a Request for Proposal (RFP) that outlines the specific needs and requirements of the cloud transformation project
  • Develop a comprehensive presales strategy that demonstrates the value and benefits of the proposed solution
  • Utilize business development strategies like networking and partnership building to drive growth and success in the cloud market


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About the author
MSSQLTips author Ron L'Esteve Ron L'Esteve is a trusted information technology thought leader and professional Author residing in Illinois. He brings over 20 years of IT experience and is well-known for his impactful books and article publications on Data & AI Architecture, Engineering, and Cloud Leadership. Ron completed his Masterís in Business Administration and Finance from Loyola University in Chicago. Ron brings deep tec

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Article Last Updated: 2023-04-14

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