The Importance Of Choosing The Right Cloud Partner

TBI offers most cloud services through carriers in our portfolio. Be warned that there is a surge of new companies and firms that claim to be cloud experts or cloud-centric. These are just products that are pieces in a puzzle your clients are trying to assemble.

If you're working with a "Cloud" supplier or broker, ask these simple questions:

• How long have they been in business? If they have been in business for two years but are offering to pay residual commissions on a three-year contract, be cautious. How can they pay for longer than they have been incorporated? Fifty percent of small businesses fail in their first year.

• What is their brand position? Is it easy to sell names like Savvis or Terremark to a client? It is very easy, and to reassure your clients further, both were purchased by large telecom carriers (CenturyLink and Verizon). You want to make sure that the client is comfortable with the brand you are offering.

• How big are they? If you are offering cloud solutions from a five-employee company, I would be careful. Check references. Make sure they have done it before and they do it well.

If you are dealing with a distributor to earn commissions, make sure they have these qualifications:

• They have direct agreements with well-known providers.

• They are making their volume commitments.

• They don't make it easy to cancel you for quota or exclusivity.

My feeling is that most major distributors have come up to speed on cloud products. They are in most of our portfolios. It's not complicated or mystical. It's an extension to the network.

You may have to learn new terminology or lean on your distributor to help explain it. You also may have to change which decision-maker you are talking to. Ask your clients what they are looking for when they mention the cloud. If they don't answer, give them the three areas I mentioned above as examples.

Use the same approach we used for cable when it was new. Use it as a secondary product. Use voice over your WAN to cut costs or for disaster recovery. We sold a lot of $100 Coax circuits, and after the client had faith in the cable company's ability to deliver, they moved the service to primary.

Start small; ask what immediate problems could be solved. Most of these products turn up very quickly.

The cloud is cool. It will get you an appointment, and the clients can often use it to make their infrastructure run faster and more reliably.

You can reach Ken Mercer at

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