Industry Insights

It Takes an Omnichannel Approach to Successfully Sell Cloud Services and Support

By Kam Rawal / October 9, 2017

Omnichannel Approach Sell Cloud Services

An omnichannel strategy is all about creating a digital experience for customers that extends seamlessly and effortlessly across channels, whether that’s the website, mobile app, brick-and-mortar store, chat, phone, or other channel. Customers get the same answers, same products, same offers and same services so that no matter which channel they are using, the customer experience will be consistent.

While creating an omnichannel retail experience has been the focus of digital transformation initiatives for years, it hasn’t been as much of a priority for B2B customer experiences. We see this often in the cloud reseller space, where SMBs hoping to purchase software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions and complementary services to help them use them effectively, face confusing and conflicting offers depending on which sales channel they interact with.

Jumping on the Cloud Bandwagon

We all know that cloud computing has fundamentally changed the way technology is developed, sold, distributed, and used. And many companies such as service providers are realizing that to be successful in our cloud-enabled world, they must become trusted cloud service providers to their SMB customers, selling services such as Google G Suite, Microsoft Office 365, FreshBooks, and many others.

The savvier companies realize as well that SMBs need help being successful with new SaaS solutions. That’s why in addition to reselling the cloud-based solutions, they also offer customer support services such as onboarding, migration, training and technical support.

But these companies often stop short of true cloud reselling success because they lack a coordinated channel strategy and the commitment to implement it. Instead they dabble in cloud, one channel, product, or service at a time. As other channels within the same service provider begin experimenting with cloud, they may end up with their own variation of priorities and offerings.

Channel Disconnects

With no consistent, overarching strategy, each channel might offer what is believed to be the most lucrative SKUs. The online channel might feature bundles of the software with onboarding and migration services, but not offer training. One part of the direct sales channel, for instance the voice and data team, may only be offering certain SaaS solutions, but aren’t incented or trained to sell supporting services. The direct sales team for cloud might sell a wider set of both SaaS solutions and services, but doesn’t bundle the offerings.

It’s what I call the “flavor of the month” approach to a cloud strategy. The reseller onboards a new SaaS offering and that becomes the focus until some other new service or solution is rolled out. Or a legacy product experiences a drop in sales, so everyone’s attention is focused on that in the short term.

This type of disconnected cloud strategy doesn’t drive revenue nor customer satisfaction because you’re delivering mixed messages about what customers should buy and how they should buy it.

Here’s an example: an SMB might purchase Office 365, but not know about the migration service you offer to help customers migrate from previous email environments to the cloud. Your company loses a revenue opportunity while your customer experiences frustration and a delayed deployment by trying to muddle through it in-house, eventually resulting in churn of the customer away from the product.

A True Cloud Sales Strategy

If you want your cloud strategy to be effective and sustainable, then you need to focus on creating an omnichannel sales experience for your SMB customers. Start by creating a robust and consistent set of product and services offerings and commit to selling these across all your sales channels. Train everyone on how to sell the SaaS solutions as well as the services that SMBs will need to get the most value from the software.

When it comes to customer support services, focus on the top three to four complementary services your customers require. Often that will include: onboarding, migration, training and ongoing customer support. Align service offers, descriptions, bundles and pricing across channels.

The resellers who “get” the omnichannel strategy will be the ones that SMBs will increasingly turn to as they purchase more SaaS applications to help them run their business. The ones who don’t get it will be stuck in “flavor-of-the-month” mode, wondering why cloud hasn’t been successful for their business.

Struggling to develop and execute your SaaS GTM strategy? Click here to download our latest eBook, The 12 Building Blocks of Cloud Commerce Go-to-Market Success. It includes valuable information on how to drive sustainable marketplace revenue growth through customer onboarding and support.

Kam Rawal is Head of Global Services at AppDirect.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn. Click here to read it.