Customer & Partner Success

Unlock Cloud Sales: A Starter's 5-Step Guide - Part 1

By Rebecca Muhlenkort / February 26, 2024

Unlock Cloud Sales pt1 Blog

Today, the SaaS and cloud landscape isn’t just growing; it’s exploding with possibilities. As an advisor, you now have an unprecedented opportunity to either kick-start or scale your SaaS and cloud practices. This surge is fueled by undeniable advantages: unparalleled scalability, remarkable flexibility, and substantial cost efficiencies over traditional IT models.

Just how fast is the market growing? A third-party survey conducted for AppDirect highlights this trend, revealing that 37 percent of IT solutions are now SaaS-based.

Enterprise IT spending on cloud services is on an upward trajectory, projected to reach nearly $1.8 trillion by 2025. —Gartner

In this starter’s guide, discover the first three steps to kickstart productive cloud and SaaS customer conversations. Plus, we’ll outline an additional course to unlock advanced skills with our AppDirect Security Sales Certificate program. (Login into your Marketplace account is required. If you’re not an advisor, sign up now).

This blog also provides approaches for managing more technical and in-depth customer discussions, including recommendations on partnering with cloud experts from AppDirect for effective discovery and engineering support.

Let's dive in!

Avoid FOMO, get in the game

So, where do you start if you’re not already a cloud expert? Begin by applying the selling skills you already have. AppDirect introduces a modern sales playbook that enhances traditional selling methods for the cloud era.

The traditional selling framework includes starting conversations around the network and spanning out: Network, Firewall, Voice, Contact Center, and Colocation. This cloud and SaaS playbook complements this approach but focuses on these technology areas: Mail, Backup for Mail, Full Backup, Disaster Recovery, and Cloud Migration.

By adhering to this updated approach and steering customer conversations within this framework, you'll demonstrate that your expertise extends beyond selling network or connectivity solutions to include cloud and SaaS services.

Following this playbook will emphasize the value of partnering with a single trusted advisor for all technology needs, fostering customer loyalty and capturing a larger share of their technology investments.

Opportunity is knocking; let’s get started!

1. Mail—It’s a universal truth: Every organization needs email services. And today, it comes down to two big players- Google and Microsoft. Google Apps has a market share of just over 50 percent, while Microsoft Office 365 has around 45 percent. Starting customer conversations around email is a great talking point because the concept is relatable. And once you become your customers' vendor for email, it is a short leap to becoming their partner for all their SaaS needs.

    Tip: Highlight cloud email services, start with these questions

    • What are you currently using for email?

    • Who are you buying from? (i.e., directly from Microsoft, a reseller, etc.?)

    • Follow up: How is the support you've received?

    • How many seats or users do you have?

    • Follow up: When was the last time you dug into your mail licensing feature set? Are you leveraging all the items included in your subscription?

    2. Backup for Mail—The next step in this cloud and SaaS selling framework is talking to customers about how they are backing up their email. This is an excellent second step because most customers are under the impression that their email platforms have built-in email backups—which they do not. Most platforms provide remote access to email accounts if a customer's data center goes offline, but they don't protect against malware events, user error, or data corruption.

    Microsoft Service Agreement

    Similar to Microsoft, Google does not take responsibility for data loss either. By asking the right questions about email backup, advisors can better protect customers’ data while adding value to the overall dollar amount of customer opportunities.

    Tip: Explain why your customers need email backup

    • Accidental or intentional deletion of data by users

    • Lost or stolen devices

    • Ransomware

    • Compliance regulations

    • Cyber insurance: To qualify for cyber insurance coverage, most providers now require proof of email backup capabilities

    3. Full Backup—Email backup is just the tip of the iceberg when protecting against data loss. Whether it’s human error or an external bad actor, a breach can have a ripple effect. Not only is there potential revenue loss from the event, such as the case with ransomware, but companies also have to hit pause on operations. And just how much can a ransomware attack cost your customer? 2023 reports show the median ransomware demand was $650,000, though the actual median ransomware payment is $350,000. Ask yourself: Can your customers afford that?

    Which customers are at risk?

    The stark reality is that all customers are vulnerable, regardless of their industry or company size. Cybersecurity threats do not discriminate.

    Ransomware affected 66% of organizations in 2023. —Sophos

    Provide critical guidance as a technology advisor by having conversations with customers about data backup. And, by working with a partner with access to backup solutions and a broad SaaS portfolio, you’re one-step ahead of competitors.

    Tip: Start with these backup discovery questions

    • What are your data protection goals? (i.e., maintain 99% uptime, 24/7 data recovery)

    • What does your current 3-2-1 backup plan for data protection look like?

    • What compliance rules impact your data retention policies?

    • If backups are needed, how is data restored?
    • Follow up: What is the process for data restores from physical appliances, virtual servers, offsite locations, or the cloud?
    • How have you validated your data protection strategy?

    Ready, but not sure where to start?

    Take the next step by signing up for an AppDirect customer workshop or Envision session. Designed to be more technical than sales-oriented, these sessions are a good next step for many advisors new to selling cloud and SaaS. AppDirect customer workshops have a proven track record of accelerating cloud deals. Our workshops cover a spectrum of topics, including Microsoft (Azure, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, SaaS optimization), Google, AWS, and SaaS security.

    Fast track your journey—Expand your learning path with our Security Sales Certificate

    As part of your learning path, you can take security conversations to the next level by completing the AppDirect Security Sales Certificate program, available in the Training Center. (Login into your Marketplace account is required. If you’re not an advisor, sign up now).

    This course will build on your foundational security, cloud, and SaaS knowledge, and give you the confidence and skills you need to identify and seize opportunities in the evolving cybersecurity field. The course uses a microlearning approach, with 60 concise, video-based lessons, each under 5 minutes. This enables you to learn at your own pace and seamlessly fit your training into your own schedule. Read more in this security certificate blog.

    Log in to the Training Center and take the 5 Steps to Unlock Cloud & SaaS course. Plus, you can start the Security Sales Certificate program. If you’re not an advisor, sign up now.

    Check out the Talks Tech podcast & catch Part 2 of this blog!

    Tune in to Episode 34 of the AppDirect Talks Tech podcast! Hosts Eric Hills and Dave Polakowski welcome Bruce Guemmer, discussing how our training events empower you to effectively position and sell a range of solutions, including cloud, SaaS, and security. Don't miss EP 34: Starting the SaaS Conversation. > Listen now

    Listen now: AppDirect Talks Tech podcast - Starting the cloud and SaaS conversation
    “Opening up that conversation, start tapping to other areas that will bring on additional revenue and opportunity rather than simply moving forward to close the initial deal...” Bruce Guemmer, Sales Enablement Manager AppDirect

    Don’t miss our companion blog, Unlock Cloud Sales: A Starter's 5-Step Guide - Part 2 (Steps 4&5) coming soon. Stay tuned!