Cloud Solutions

Getting Your Customer to the Table to Discuss Their Cloud Strategy

By Denise Sarazin / February 22, 2022

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Identifying the best strategy for engaging your customers in a discussion about the cloud and how they might benefit can seem daunting. Although SMBs are accelerating their adoption of cloud-based software, that does not translate into your customers proactively discussing their cloud needs and objectives with you. If you, like many advisors, you’ve focused your business primarily around telecom solutions, your customers may not realize your cloud capabilities. Or, they may not fully understand how you can help them execute their cloud strategy.

But you can change that, and in doing so, tap into opportunities that are profitable for you and your customers. To help you get there, we’ve identified a clear path in our downloadable guide where we discuss how to differentiate your cloud practice, why Microsoft 365 is the ideal cloud conversation starter, getting the right customer influencers to the table, calling in outside expertise if you need it, and many other topics.

In this blog, we go a step further to discuss how to engage your customers during your initial cloud meetings, and we give you access to the top questions that will help you and your customers get to a cloud strategy faster.

Getting to Engagement

So you’ve identified the right players and have set up your meeting with your customer. What’s next?

The marketplace for productivity solutions is competitive, with many other advisors competing for your customers’ business, so the right approach is essential to gaining their trust.

The most vital tactic once you’ve reached this stage is to go to your meeting with the right questions, and the right people. The questions you ask, and how you handle the follow-up, will help differentiate you from the competition.

We’ve compiled a list of tried and tested questions that advisors can bring to the discussion. It includes questions about solutions customers already have that can easily be transitioned to the cloud, their cloud readiness, and a number of technical discovery questions.

Want to talk to your customers about the cloud? Ask these questions.

The best approach is to split your questions into two phases:

Phase 1—Qualifying questions

The purpose of these questions is to determine your customer’s degree of openness to reviewing their current technology solutions and to get basic information that will guide your next steps. These questions cover:

  • Current business and technology challenges
  • Detailed questions about solutions they already have
  • Their cloud readiness

The information you gather will help you determine your next steps—for example, what follow-up discussions you need to have, and whether you should seek outside expertise to assess the potential opportunity and build a proposal. The more complete the information, the higher the probability of a successful outcome, and of inspiring customer confidence that they’re working with the right advisor.

Download the full list of 14 Qualifying Questions.

Phase 2—Technical discovery questions

If you’ve been successful in engaging your customer, it’s time to dive into more technical topics that are critical to company operations and the overall IT health of the company.

The answers to these questions will help you make technology recommendations that align with your customer’s business challenges and requirements, and demonstrate that you have the knowledge to support them in meeting their objectives.

These questions cover the following topics:

  • Service level agreements
  • Business continuity
  • Handling and risk management of sensitive information
  • Security considerations

Download the full list of 10 Technical Discovery Questions.

Before You Meet

Here are a few important tips to consider before you meet with your customer:

  • Know the customer’s level of knowledge, interest, and expertise—This can help you start the discussion off right, and will help you identify the specific questions you should ask.
  • Ask open-ended questions—Don’t use yes/no questions that yield very little information. Your questions should require them to provide the details you’ll need to assess their requirements and build their cloud strategy.
  • Follow up—It’s important to remember that the answers your customer provides may only scratch the surface and be a symptom of greater underlying problems, so be prepared to dig further—both during the interview and afterward. You probably won’t get all the answers in your first discussion, which is a great opportunity to keep the conversation going.
  • Bring in outside expertise—If you have concerns about having the right expertise at the table, you can invite a partner that has expertise in cloud solutions to join you. They’ll be able to answer questions, provide any technical support needed, and will confirm for your customer that you’re the right advisor to work with. Get in touch with AppSmart cloud experts to help you have more productive conversations with customers.

Handling Objections

When customers are faced with budget constraints and other challenges, updating their technology may be the last thing they want to think about, so you should be prepared to handle objections.

We’ve identified the following top reasons why customers shy away from engaging in a sales discussion about the cloud, and Microsoft 365. Use the responses to create your own cheat sheet that will help you get the discussion back on track if you encounter resistance.

  • We’re not interested in cloud-based apps at this point in time. Moving to the cloud may seem costly, intimidating, and complex, but in fact, the opposite is true. By moving even some of your applications and business processes to the cloud, you can significantly reduce your capital expenditures. Your employees have ready access to all the tools they need, and they can work more collaboratively and efficiently. Most SMBs are moving some or all of their apps to the cloud. In fact, by 2024, the majority of SMB IT spending will be on cloud-based solutions. As your technology advisor, I can provide an objective evaluation of your needs and recommend the best solutions—which means you can work with a single company instead of many to meet all your needs.
  • We already have an existing Microsoft agreement, so we can’t make changes or additional commitments. Microsoft 365 can be added to an existing Microsoft agreement.
  • Microsoft software is high-profile and targeted by hackers, and we can’t afford a breach. Microsoft 365 is the first major public cloud offering that meets ISO 27001 standards. It comes with a 99.9 percent uptime service level agreement that’s backed by financial penalties for failing to meet them.
  • Why shouldn’t we just buy direct from Microsoft? If we need support, we can use the Microsoft Get Help app. As your advisor, I can help you choose the right solutions for your business. You also get much better and faster live support, at the same price. You get Tier 1, 2, and 3 support. If you buy directly from Microsoft, you get only Tier 1 support.
  • We only need one or two licenses for now. We can sell you a single license if that's all that you need.
  • We’re using free software or an old version of Microsoft Office, and it works fine for most of our employees. Without up-to-date enterprise-grade software, you open yourself to security gaps, downtime, and compliance issues. You need to take into consideration the risks to your business if employees can’t work for an hour, a day, or a week.