Partners Must Be the Bridge From Cloud to C-Suite

Ellen MuraskinCLOUD PARTNERS — For the second half of the luncheon keynote at Cloud Partners on Sept. 17, three presenters used role-play to show partners what cloud-centric, consultative sales look like in the age of the digital pacesetter CMO.

The session was kicked off by Jo Peterson, vice president of converged cloud and data for Clarify360, a division of master agent Teleproviders. Peterson was joined by Janet Schijns, Verizon Enterprise Solutions’ chief technology marketer (CTM), in the role of partner customer, and Michael Goodenough, VP of cloud at BCM One, playing a cloud-savvy consultant.

This Cloud Partners panel featured Verizon's Janet Schijns (standing), BCMOne's Michael Goodenough and Clarify360's Jo Peterson.Peterson began by delineating the differences in perspective (and therefore pitch) between CMO, CFO and CIO buyers. Chief marketing officers – who are due to outspend CIOs in the coming years – focus on outcomes and events. CMOs also:

  • will spend more on a product or service to get better business results;
  • prefer public cloud services over internal clouds; and
  • focus on marginal cost; in other words, what margin is gained for every dollar spent.
  • CMOs are therefore bigger proponents of Opex, which is friendlier to margin assessment than capex.

Just to give an idea of the spending power of the CMO today, consider that:

  • there are 1400 companies in the marketing technology stack now;
  • most SharePoint installations happen in marketing; and
  • CRM is a marketing purchase.

CFOs, for their part, are won over by predictable quarterly expenses. But that’s a plus for cloud sales, too, whose subscription models are predictable by definition.

Schijns, representing the new chief marketing technology hybrid, said that she’s been pitched almost 500 marketing applications in the last 18 months. It’s also important to realize that third-party marketing companies now consider themselves digital agencies, and that you, as partner, must learn to be the bridge between the end user and the plethora of services and applications now competing for his or her digital transformation business.

The actual business opportunity described in the presentation was something not quite here yet. It involved Internet-of-Things technology that lets retailers know…

… what’s in the closet of the in-store shopper, pushing her suggestions for matching purchases through a branded app on her phone. While not the focus of the session, the solution story served to illustrate the role of the digital pacesetter, that most evolved type of CMO. This person designs rewarding customer experiences, and leverages data from both internal and external sources to know customers’ every motivation. The savvy channel partner similarly makes use of business intelligence to show the prospect both predicted outcomes and what their competition is spending and doing along the same lines. He or she can put together plans with TCO, ROI, and success metrics, and can explain risks of downtime. 

Schijns and Goodenough carried the story through to a day in the life of that CMO/CMT, with the channel partner supplying the precise cost data, security strategies and liabilities she needed to get buy-in from her CEO for technology purchases. Naturally, judicious cloud deployments were shown to offload the cost and hidden variables of technology refreshes, and allow for continuous tweaks to optimize performance and return.

A final message: Partners can’t do this all on their own. Peterson noted that they’re learning to partner with digital agencies, and to incorporate those agencies’ parts of projects into fees.

“Ramp up your bench,” was her advice. “If you develop these ecosystems early, then you drive the cloud conversation.”

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