The Cloud—and its promise of technology as a living subscription fed service vs. hardware and software as capital investment—has been hovering overhead since last century. Investors and start-ups with new software and branded apps have led the charge. Business and consumer markets have been moving to subscription based Cloud services ever since.
It's Time to Make That Cloud Rain
Despite all the hype and promise, the Technology Services Industry Association's (TSIA) evaluation of Cloud 20 Software as Service (SaaS) vendors found an alarming lack of profitability. Operating streams suffer from high sales and marketing costs. As the industry grows, the TSIA study points to the great need to make Cloud sales cost-effective and forward-thinking. As profitable as its promise.
American IT research and advisory firm Gartner, Inc. predicts 2016 will prove a 17% growth in Cloud services, generating $208 Billion in sales (1). Their research indicates Cloud programs will eventually surpass all other product and service revenues. To capitalize on this, it is imperative Cloud programs must start out—or become—a highly scalable way to process the business they generate.
Simple enough on the surface. Were it not for the very real human and data management limitations most businesses face growing, it might have been.
While the number and scope of Cloud based product offerings have skyrocketed, most rely upon the More Sales/More Products model as the path to riches. As history and the TSIA study proves, that's not always the best route.
Once the sale is made, the profitable management of Cloud based customer activity is the best way to leverage TSIA and other industry best practices. A smart automated operational savings vs. constant net new sales approach builds, protects and grows business you already have. The cost/sale price of enhancing an existing client's billing is much lower. When you minimize manual inputs, streamline and automate repetitive tasks, and then deploy the results—and the resulting data analysis—across your network of channel partners and sales/renewal personnel, you up potential profits twice.
Can You Scale Your Offering for Short Cycle Billing and Rapid Growth?
Part of the Cloud's beauty is its ability to change. Ownership model hardware, software and service sales focus on one item, one offering. Cloud based models allow monthly billing, updates, renewals, seamless downloads and smart, quick-moving adoption of new technology.
Monthly billing, for example, can present its own problems—especially when complicated by multiple Channel Partners. The ability to track and manage use through automated workflows, when coupled with intake rules that prompt Channel Partners to include necessary renewal and upsell data, will simplify and lower the cost of Cloud billing, sales retention/renewal and expansion. Automated follow-up notifications to customers and Channel Partners also feed Cloud profitability.
Using an automated management system capitalizes on these value-added potential sales, helping you build Partner loyalty by tracking and rewarding compliance, offering rebates and other incentives.
Keep your initial offer affordable and simple. As you grow and upgrade/upsell basic offer customers, automated Cloud sales and data management can feed growth with gleaned insights into the needs of core customers.
Is Your Sales and Data Model Scalable?
Unlike traditional technology sales, Cloud offerings don't promote absolute ownership. Instead, they facilitate built-in sales through growth licensing.
Your customers expect to move quickly and nimbly to next gen products and services. Can you lead them when it's time to upgrade or renew? If you can, how long does it take? How much does it cost? Have you counted all those manual keystrokes, edits and the time/personnel ratio it takes to stay on top of it all?
Understanding and managing Cloud data is vital to Cloud success and key to determining future investment. Automated management makes certain your Cloud reporting framework is scalable for tracking and identifying emerging segments and service trends, forecasting revenue and building profitability with the staff and customers you already have even as it seamlessly onboards and integrates new products and customer acquisitions.
Can you tweak and update, or must you reinvent the wheel with every product generation? Data management should work seamlessly within the Cloud and the global market. The right software partner and personnel can integrate your entire sales channel with multi-cultural, multi-currency and multi-language interfaces.
Instead of recycled leftovers or spreadsheet data dumps, Cloud profitability hinges on generating information in ways that seamlessly bring new customers online, renew subscriptions and even up-sell expanded services. The goal: Monetizing each customer in multiple ways through smart data and client analysis and management.
How Are You Handling Data Admin?
The TSIA found that monthly Cloud transactions generate 12x the data of annual renewals (2). Twelve times the data ups the ante on its administrative burden. If you're not ready for it, not only will you miss opportunities for repeat sales, renewals and upgrades, but dissatisfied customers with unfulfilled needs and confused invoices are likely to bolt.
Time to review your existing systems. Are they up to the task? Can they handle the 12X administrative burden?
Does your management plan or management software provider automate onboarding, renewals, quote and invoice generation? Or must you go in by hand, check for accuracy and otherwise slow down what should be a smooth, profitable process?
Are you left relying on human interpretation and response to the time consuming, complex inputting and study of spreadsheet tracking?
Consolidating and analyzing data from Channel Partners and sub-systems automatically frees your internal specialists to focus on customer activity. Instead of spending all their time gathering and analyzing, your people will be able to provide loyalty inducing processing and service for both.
Insightful automation can be the fix you need to transcend areas TSIA found bogging down Cloud based services. Instead of cutting into profitability, customer satisfaction and Channel loyalty, you could be building all three.
Have You Maximized Your Return On Channel Partners?
Have you onboarded them properly so they can speak between the lines of your sales book to prospects? Have you found the hidden motivators in your products to fulfill the prospects' needs?
Are your incentives in proper alignment for Cloud model sales vs. conventional sales? Have you built scalability into your Channel Partners' piece of your sales and marketing pie for continued enthusiasm? Have you collaborated to make them major assets?
The ability to track delinquencies and overdue/overlooked opportunities and to deploy reminders and automated workflows all contribute to the effectiveness, profitability and income of Channel Partners. Channel Partners contribute to the effectiveness and profitability of your Cloud sales.
Starting with a system to automate your process and optimize efficiency will put you first in your Channel Partner's offerings. Leverage them. Fully serviced, fully realized and fully profitable sales will follow.
Are You Ready to Hit the Ground Running?
While all the things we've discussed add up to making the Cloud rain, there are pitfalls. If you haven't been there/done that— or even if you have—establishing your Cloud and renewal programs and managing them for profitability and customer loyalty often take more time and specialization than most companies have.
Successful Cloud programs mandate significant investment. With the right processes, incentive programs and systems, a Cloud program can be profitable within two years. iasset.com's focus is on just that—the profitable, seamless management of your channel Cloud program.
Cloud profits aren't always about rising prices, selling more, and Premium subscriptions. Profits are found and lost in day-to-day, month-upon-month data interpretation and management. If you don't have optimum systems in place for those, you could lose all you gain in the Upsell.
Moving current customers up to Premium Services sounds profitable in the increased revenue it generates, but it still doesn't address profitable management of your Cloud and renewal programs. iasset.com's approach and deliverables for profit building from an operational, cost, data, analytics and management approach is much less wieldy and much more customer friendly— and thus much more profit oriented. That leads to much more possible profits.
Isn't that what had you Cloud gazing in the first place?
iasset.com helps companies build and optimize profitable Cloud and annuity programs across global channels. Behind every profitable Cloud and annuity business is a robust process that minimizes manual inputs, streamlines and automates repetitive tasks, deploying across a network of global Channel Partners.
(1) Gartner, Inc. Forecast: Public Cloud Services, Worldwide, 2014-2020, 3Q16 Update
(2) Executive Insight: Expand Selling, TSIA-02546, February 8, 2016, ©Technology Services Industry Association/www.tsia.com