ChannelPro-SMB, a media company offering channel partners with technology and business news, recently announced its elite list of 20/20 Visionaries for 2015. The list includes influencers and sought-after authorities from the vendor, analyst, and consulting communities, as well as some of the most industry-forward resellers and MSPs from the SMB partner community. Featured among this prestigious list of thought leaders was Ingram Micro’s own, Jason Bystrak, Executive Director, North America, Ingram Micro Cloud.
Jason first joined Ingram Micro in 1995 and has played a pivotal role in identifying and deploying innovative go-to-market strategies to enable and accelerate channel partner success, spur new business opportunities, and increase profitability. Many in the industry recognize him as a leading authority on profiting from cloud solutions and accurately forecasting the ever-changing cloud landscape. We had the opportunity to sit down and chat with him about current trends, philosophies, and strategies for successful selling in the cloud services industry.
Ingram Micro Cloud: What is driving cloud adoption in today’s market?
Jason Bystrak: I think from a business standpoint, the cloud market is being driven by consumers. Think about the ways you use cloud technology in your everyday life: social media such as Facebook, services like Netflix, online banking applications, file storage such as Dropbox, and many more. Consumers are demanding the same experience in their workplace. Start-up companies and SMB’s are agile and moving to cloud quickly, but larger enterprise companies are building plans to leverage cloud solutions to optimize and run their businesses. Technology vendors and providers are also seeing cloud as an opportunity to redefine their business, and capture customers for life – cloud is very sticky!
IMC: How should our channel partners think about cloud?
JB: Our channel partners should think about cloud based on its core values: agility, ubiquity, and utility. Agility means you can leverage technology to execute ideas quickly, ubiquity means you can get what you need anywhere at any given time, and utility means you pay for only what you use. Channel partners need to leverage these values and focus on business outcomes, teaching their end customers how technology can improve productivity, business process, customer service, and ultimately profitability.
IMC: What are some common challenges channel partners face when moving to the cloud?
JB: Channel partners have a number of changes to make when shifting from a product and project-based company to a cloud-first services company. From a financial standpoint, they need to plan their revenue and profit streams to reflect a monthly subscription model and future annuity. They need to enhance technical skills to include data migration, system integration, application customization, and post-sales support. Operational process needs to be reviewed to support monthly A/P and A/R, customer contract terms need to be changed, and service delivery requirements need to be defined. Marketing is critical – end clients need to be educated about cloud and how your company can help them build and execute a plan. Sales needs to be trained to have a line of business discussion, and not just a technical discussion with the IT department. The sales team also needs to be compensated in a way that makes the cloud solution as attractive to sell as the on-premise solution paid up front – this typically requires significant changes in alignment and incentive plans. All of this planning is critical to success as a cloud-first company, focused on the future of technology.
IMC: What is your one piece of advice for channel partners selling cloud? What can they improve upon?
JB: I believe that too many channel partners are flying by the seat of their pants. They need to plan for the future of their business and include automation in their process. A repeatable process will contribute to their success. A good plan will include measurable and actionable leading indicators to keep the business on track to achieve the goals.
For those interested in learning more about how they can be more effective selling in the channel, continue reading this blog. We’ll be sharing great tips, tricks, and industry information in the months ahead. We also invite you to sign up to be a Cloud Elevate™ Partner, where you’ll gain instant access to all the support you need to grow your cloud business.