Opinion

An advantage for the channel: people do business with people

We've all heard the adage that "people do business with people they know, like, and trust."  It's not something taught in textbooks of university business classes, but anybody who has been in the business world for more than a few years certainly can attest to the wisdom of this motto, writes Jason Beal.

Our ability to successfully network ourselves and to truly connect with people greatly contributes to our business results.  Those "Straight from the Gut" decisions that Jack Welch wrote about, well those gut decisions sure are easier to make in favour of and in cooperation with the people we know, like, and trust.

What does this have to do with Cloud services delivery? I go back to the role of the Trusted Advisor, the Virtual CEO: Cloud Experience Owner. What is your advantage? Your customers know you. They trust you. And they like you.

You've helped them throughout the years. You've solved their problems, given them direction and advice, and put out their proverbial IT fires (hopefully just proverbial fires). You've shared meals with them, played rounds of golf with them, and invited them to local technology fairs and networking events.

Your employees may be active in local charitable organizations, may be active in local business associations, and may have children at the same schools as your clients' children.  Your end-customers know, like, and trust you. Don't overlook or understand this fact. A new technology form factor or technology delivery model does not change this dynamic.

Meanwhile, your end-customers do not know the new cloud start-up companies trying to solicit their business.  They may not like those service providers who have left them on hold on the phone for hours at a time or, worse yet, haven't answered their phones. 

End-users have felt the pain of working with companies who have outsourced their call centers and trained their overworked employees in the art of using the words "No" and "Unfortunately We Can't."  They may not trust those global vendors who arrive only in the form of banner ads, e-mail spam, and pop-up web surveys. And many of your end-customers certainly do not trust aspects of the Public Cloud or having their data storage in unknown parts of the globe.

So what is the take away? How can you take advantage of this 'know, like, and trust' advantage? I recommend that you focus more on personalizing your sales and marketing efforts.

Invest in service delivery and customer service. Get face-to-face more often with customer visits and quarterly business reviews (QBRs). Do more local events for your end-users to teach them the benefits of Cloud. Your reach, your people, your local presence are your competitive advantages in this new landscape. 

Encourage your teams to give a little extra personal touch to clients. And most importantly, focus on the 'E' in the  Virtual CEO: Cloud Experience Owner. Products deliver functionality; Services create Experiences! The reseller channel has an excellence opportunity to deliver Cloud services with positive and personalised experiences to clients who know, like, and trust you!

This was first published in February 2012

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