This is part 6 of our 8-part blog series, 8 Steps to Help Channel Partners Build and Execute a Profitable Cloud Business.
You’ve come a long way since building your cloud solution, picking your vendors, developing your KPI-based financial plan, and getting executive buy-in. But this is where many VARs make the mistake of thinking they’re done with making changes to the sales model and their business. Instead, this is a critical point where you need to keep moving forward. You need to make some changes in the way you sell cloud services. Here are more best practices to help you do it right:
Determine a customer contracting process for cloud (master services agreement)
With traditional IT sales you’ve been able to work on a project basis where you pull resources and make investments as needed for winning each deal. Selling the cloud is different. It requires recurring, ongoing service delivery with specific operational processes, and if you don’t plan the customer contracting process properly at the beginning it can hurt your profitability down the road. Instead of scaling your business to each customer—which can be problematic in many ways—have a master services agreement in place that covers all the cloud services you purchase and sell. That’s the way to ensure predictable and optimal profitability for cloud sales.
Choose a scalable automation platform
Some VARs make the mistake of skipping the step of creating a scalable automation platform and service delivery tool. A lot of times they don’t want to invest in it and try to find an alternative “back door” way to manage subscription provisioning, invoicing, and other key operational processes. But they soon find out that it becomes more expensive to manage all of those multiple services and processes manually as they offer additional cloud services and the customer base grows. So don’t underestimate how difficult it may be to manage your customers’ operational requirements as your business grows. Consider investing in a partner or a software automation platform that does all of it for you. Ingram Micro has built its cloud business based on an automated platform and our customers can leverage our investments to support their efforts.
Implement service delivery tools
Service delivery is at the core of customer satisfaction in cloud services sales. Make an investment up front in the right service delivery tools and use them to drive your business. Think ahead when selecting these tools. You may have 10 customers today and 1,000 five years down the road. It is difficult and expensive to change service delivery tools, so once again the scalability factor comes into play when determining the best operational processes to support cloud sales.
Develop a reporting and financial tracking process
Continue the KPI-based tracking that we discussed in Steps 4 and 5 and combine it with automated reporting processes for key areas like financials, KPIs, customer on-boarding and training. Consider starting with a platform that automates the tracking and reporting of purchasing, provisioning, subscription management, as well as invoicing. In addition, consider these best practices which also focus on automating processes that enable you to serve customers efficiently:
- Understand A/P and A/R requirements
- Outline customer onboarding and training process
- Determine post-sale support process
- Establish vendor management plan and resources
- Design quality assurance process
Next, Step 7 in our series on improving VAR profitability for cloud sales will focus on the all-important marketing strategy—and it’s not your grandfather’s word-of-mouth approach. For more information about Ingram Micro Cloud’s channel partner program, visit www.ingrammicrocloud.com/become-a-partner/.