Continuing from yesterday's Access is Still Pretty Good, Microsoft is trying to coach its partners on how to sell cloud services (like Office365) since it is different than how partners were selling Hosted Exchange and Small Business Server.
Microsoft's BAD TIP #1: Talk cloud, cloud, cloud with customers. It isn't about premise versus cloud. It is about Business Needs, Goals and desired outcomes.
Telecom has been about replacement services and saving money for so long that most of the sales forces (direct and indirect) have been stuck in a rut. "What do you have now? Okay. I can provide that too for a little less." Today, it's SIP Trunk for ISDN-PRI, just like it was Integrated T1 for POTS and DSL. Replace and shave money. Yuck!
Worse still is when our industry sells Hosted PBX as an exact replacement for a key system or premise based phone system. It rarely works out ... for the Customer!
If the customer wants a key system with paging and door buzzers, just sell him a box. Okay? That functionality will NOT perform well on IP. Sure you can Gerry-rig it to work sort of, but the customer's expectations will NOT be met. Is that what you want?
Voice over IP phone systems were not designed to be an exact replacement for premise systems. Cloud phones were designed to provide an enterprise class communications system to a business with little CAPEX and no maintenance worries. It is ideal for multi-location offices and remote/virtual/mobile workers. (Cloud's promise is in enabling the mobile worker to be more productive and efficient while outside the office. Keep that in mind for ALL cloud services.)
All too often I find that the salesperson or channel partner has sold a customer on a Hosted PBX service that will not meet the customers needs or expectations. Who's fault is that?
One: If you are not using the system you are selling, then you need a sales engineer to help you determine if the service will be right for the customer. If you are not using the phone system you are selling, what are you doing?
The Hosted PBX is supposed to be the last phone system the customer will own. If you don't use it yourself, how would you know? How can you believe that it is a good system if you use something else? I know. I know. You have 100+ service providers and 20 of them offer HPBX. What can an Agent do? PICK ONE?!
I'm shouting. Sorry.
Nothing better than when a VAR is selling HPBX, but is using a Zultys PBX for his business. There's confidence. That's like going to a financial planner who is trying to sell you on a fund, you ask him how much he is invested and he says he isn't/can't. Yeah. That's cool. I'm in.
Back to the talking cloud all day. How about just talking to the business about how they do business, how the calls flow in and out? What business goals do they have that maybe technology can assist them with? If nothing else, it would be a smarter conversation than how many lines, how many phones, can I see your bill.
Stop selling Replacements. It isn't about Products; it is about Solutions, Outcomes. (And you are going to be hearing that line a lot from me until 2015.)