I’m on site at Cisco’s Marketing Velocity event in Chicago this week, so watch for updates on the latest thinking from the likes of Michelle Chiantera, VP of global partner marketing, and Wendy Bahr, SVP of the global partner organization.
A major topic of discussion is partnering with a variety of suppliers and players in the partner ecosystem, from SIs to digital agencies, to assemble a complete solution for customers. For Cisco, this is about being at the forefront of digital business initiatives. It’s also about engaging with the new technology buyer, namely line-of-business managers who now have the budget and decision-making power to select vendors, without IT’s buy-in.
As an agent or reseller, if you haven’t had a competitor you never even saw coming swoop in and take business you could have won, Cisco’s message is that you will — maybe sooner than you think. And that competitor probably knows how to talk to line-of-business leaders and is able to reach out to a variety of suppliers to offer a turnkey service.
Watch for more on partner-to-partner ecosystem relationships from me this week, and check out COLOTRAQ’s Dany Bouchedid’s take on telecom’s unfortunate tendency to sell products, not solutions.
One small step toward solutions selling you can take right now is to embrace bundling — never provision an Office 365 or Google G Suite account without offering a menu of add-ons that will enhance the business benefit as well as your bottom line. An example is encryption and data control. I spoke last week with Charles Gold, CMO at Virtru, which won the 2016 Google Global Cloud Partner Award for solution innovation. Virtru integrates with Office 365, G Suite and many other applications to let customers maintain control of their data across platforms, at rest, in transit and when shared with third parties. With the service, a customer can recall email and remotely rescind access to a document, such as a pricing spreadsheet. For customers with stringent regulatory and data privacy requirements, such as financial services, health care, government and manufacturing, this sort of add-on is a no brainer. My discussion with Gold is here.
Other bundled offers when reselling Office 365 or G Suite should include a formal, structured discovery and planning phase where you, or a provider like SkyKick, preps both on-premises systems and the cloud environment. Companies not used to heavy reliance on SaaS should get a checkup on bandwidth needs and the WAN; as we discuss here, a hub-and-spoke setup no longer makes sense. Direct connections are available from cloud providers, carriers including AT&T and Verizon, and hosting companies like Level 3. Private connections shorten the path between end user devices and the cloud service, dramatically improving performance. Software-defined WAN may also be a win here — our SD-WAN Seller’s Guide can help you decide.
On the server and services side, make sure the target host can handle the number of mailboxes and amount of data to be migrated, that the domain name is set up properly and that user directories are clean. You should have spam filtering, like from AppRiver or Barracuda, and continuity and backup from providers like Datto or Zerto.
Suddenly, that $35 (or less) productivity suite seat could return five times the revenue. Solutions selling is the future, but it doesn’t need to be complicated, so get started.
Follow editor in chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.