The First Rule of Selling Cloud Services: Don’t Talk About Cloud Services

Customers Don’t Care

While Cloud Computing is the marketing term du jour, if you actually want to sell anything it may be best to avoid talking about Cloud Computing. Why? Simply put, customers don’t care.   Even if they do care, it is likely they are misinformed about cloud services (Microsoft, why do you do this?). If your customers are informed, your discussion might well stray from the discussion—and marketing opportunity—you want to have.

What customers want is what customers have always wanted – savings, convenience, flexibility, and reliable services that address their needs. While software developed to work in a distributed environment may make great business sense for your organization, that fact alone will not push customers to choose your service over a competitor. What will win the day is how effectively you translate the advantages of cloud-based applications into tangible benefits to the customer. While these advantages can be operational, they are equally—and frequently more—effective in commercial applications. Quite simply, if your customer sees value, he will buy. If he doesn’t, he won’t.

Use History as a Guide

We find parallels to this by looking at the early stages of enterprise and residential VoIP adaption.  Initially, early mover retail VoIP companies struggled to sell their services because they attempted to sell customers on the benefits of the underlying technology. Unfortunately, many customers tended to not appreciate the technology, and they may have been turned off, focusing on perceived shortcomings as compared to traditional voice services. That changed when Vonage, with its massive advertising budget coined the tag line “The Broadband Phone Company.” No acronyms, no mention of next generation technology – nothing except cheap, reliable, phone service with all the features you are used to.  Today, enterprise and residential customers can buy “Digital Home Phone,” “Optimum Digital Voice,” “U-Verse Voice,” “FiOS Digital Voice,” and  “Skype Out.” While all of these brands tout their quality, features, and price, not one of these websites mentions – much less highlights that what you are really buying is a next generation, Voice over Internet Protocol service.

Follow the Leaders

Today, some of the most widely utilized cloud-based applications are offered by Google, Amazon, and Netflix. However, when these companies offer services like Gmail, digital downloads, or streaming movies, they highlight what you get, not how they deliver it. Enterprises don’t use Gmail because it runs on virtual servers that reside in geographically distributed data centers, or because it utilizes software that dynamically adjusts the allocation of resources based on real-time demand. They use Gmail because it is a robust, secure, and cost-effective solution that requires minimal internal IT resources to administer.   Similarly, if Netflix changed its entire infrastructure virtually overnight, as they did last year when they migrated to Amazon Web Services, none of its customers would care so long as the movies and television shows keep streaming.

At IceHook, we emphasize to our customers that they are not locked into term contracts. We also guarantee both the performance of our service and the availability of their Call Detail Record data. Of course, administering through our cloud infrastructure is the only reason we are able to do this. If our customers knew that, would they care? We don’t think so. And that’s why we always emphasize the commercial value.