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Leverage Vendors to Cash in on Cloud Sales

For MSPs wanting to sell more cloud services, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel with your marketing and sales programs. Most vendors provide some resources to get you started. Some really go out of their way to help with everything from creating a plan, to making sales calls and delivering the pitch for you.

Here are some programs I’ve seen work well – be sure to look for benefits like these from your vendors.
  1. MDF Funds – Have a great sales/marketing idea that’s beyond your budget? Extend your dollars by getting your vendor to foot part of the bill. Marketing Development Funds (MDF) are one of the most valuable and under-used vendor resources. Thousands of dollars – usually in matching funds – may be available if you can show your vendor how your proposed sales/marketing campaign will result in revenue.
  2. Rebrandable Collateral – Give your customer compelling solution briefs and case studies  without having to write a word. Many vendors will co-brand their collateral with your logo, giving you professionally produced marketing slicks that explain their solutions, with your identity front-and-center.
  3. Expert Presenters – For your customer event or roadshow, fill out your agenda with your vendors’ most seasoned sales and marketing experts. Get them to pitch the solution and execute those face-to-face customer interactions that bring in customers.
Once you’ve secured these resources with your vendor, ask them how they can help you plan and execute specific activities and events. Here are some of my favorites:
    1. Webinars – You provide your vendor with a list of end users you want to reach. The vendor plans an online webinar on an industry topic of interest, then sends the invites and hosts the webinar. The presentation ends with an explanation of the vendor solution and your offerings. Just about all you need to do is follow up to close the deals!
    2. Beer Bash – Online webinars are worthwhile, but in many cases nothing beats a face-to-face meeting. What works best to drive in-person attendance? Beer. With Axcient, I’ve worked with partners in the Midwest to set up a “Backup and Beer Bash,” where a room at a favorite brewpub serves as the venue for meeting with customers. Axcient provides an expert to talk about the value of backup and business continuity, either by webinar or in person. Your customers leave happy and convinced to increase their managed services commitment.
    3. Open Houses– We know you’re proud of your NOC, so why not bring your customers in to see it? Give your vendor a list of your break/fix customers to invite to the event and ask them to provide air cover with sales calls and emails. Once you get those break/fix customers to your office and impress them with an inside view to your operations and solutions, you might easily convert them to managed services customers.
In short, some vendors are happy to help you plan, fund, and carry out sales and marketing activities to help their bottom lines, as well as yours. But not all vendors offer a quality partner program, and others may have a list of great benefits but are slow to carry them out. Choose your vendors wisely by evaluating their partner program as carefully as their solution. A safe bet is to choose those who have proven their worth by winning awards from the IT community.

As an example, Axcient has been recognized as a 2012 CRN 5-Star Partner, IT Nation’s Most Compelling Channel Program 2011, and Business Solutions’ Best Channel Vendor 2011 and 2012. Axcient offers all the tools and resources I suggested above, and is rolling out many new and enhanced benefits as part of the new Axcient Partner Program, announced April 16. Be sure to take advantage of these new benefits from Axcient and from all your cloud vendors!

For other tips and tools on selling cloud services, read Getting Your Business in the Cloud, Creating Your Cloud Strategy in a Day, and Overcoming SMB Objections to the Cloud.

Chris Sterbenc is VP of Sales at  Axcient, which offers a cloud-based continuity service for MSPs. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all Axcient guest blogs here.

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