Firehost, Quantum, RiT and RSVP all illustrate the different approaches you can take to selling to tough customers like datacentre buyers.
At the recent Cloud Expo show, it was impossible to avoid Firehost, whose branding was all over the place suggesting an aggressive launch in the UK. To show they mean business, it has headhunted Ken Nathan-Amissah as its sales executive in the UK.
Firehost is made up of straight talking Texans. They call a cloud a datacentre. Which is refreshing because the datacentre industry needs some straight talkers. Don't wee on my boots and tell me it's raining, as the cowboys say.
Selling to datacentres is a specialist skill. When you're trying to plan your IT infrastructure five years in advance, you need someone with at least one foot on Planet Earth, not some bonkers digital guru who believes his own tweets about how cloud apps will change the social zeitgeist and 'democratize' society. Who knows what nonsense the trend chasers will be coming out with in five year's time?
The chances are, the underlying technology will have continued in a slow, sensible evolutionary path. But it's pretty tough to work on commission too when it takes 18 months for a sale to materialise.
It's hard to send your sales force over the top into no man's land like this. This is where you need experienced hands who know the territory.
Quantum, for example, only employs people who've been in the industry for years and know what it's like to switch blades in the wiring jungle. CMO Dave Smith (ex-Colt, HP etc) has seen more cabling engineer's bottom cleavage than he cares to think about.
Quantum helps companies like SAP, Oracle, Symantec, Dell and RIM to create their channel strategies and do the lead generation for their partners. With over 250 employees, fluent in over 25 languages - there's probably at least one who can speak plain English.
On the other hand, if it's people skills you're after, you could do worse than try Docklands based RSVP for your channel telemarketing. You know how salesmen and women often put on an act to get through those long schmoozathons with customers? RSVP takes this to its logical conclusion by employing resting actors in its telesales team. When I worked in IT I dreaded taking unsolicited sales calls. But if it was Minnie Driver or Helena Bonham-Carter calling, things might have been different.
In a previous incarnation of this magazine, we used to employ Richard Gibson - better known as TV's Herr Flick - as a sub-editor when he was in between filming series of 'Allo 'Allo. Yes, Herr Flick used to pass all your press releases under his monocle as ruthlessly as he searched for the Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies.
I wonder what Herr Flick would make of RiT. It claims to have cracked the age old handicap of datacentres, namely their rotten management.
RiT CenterMind automates all the laborious jobs, like provisioning, network planning, implementation and operational activities. This means the data center manager can streamline costs, reduce downtime, improve service and make better use of their assets. Or they will do if you can sell it to them a system. RiT is looking for resellers, apparently.
I will say that only once.
This was first published in February 2012