Looking for new customers? Curt Finch, CEO of Journyx, explains how to sell your data center service so customers can see their total return on investment. — Jennifer Bosavage, editor
Businesses searching for a data center fall into various groups usually based on their familiarity with IT and data storage procedures. Some have quite a bit of experience and likely an interest in the more technical aspects of data storage. However, many, if not most of your customers will be fairly green when it comes to exploring options for a data storage system. You can give your company a competitive advantage by positioning yourself as a knowledgeable guide through the myriad concerns your potential clients are likely to have. Following are simple steps that will help you to effectively communicate the advantages of your service to new customers, and will also elicit respect from more technical minded individuals.
1. Security, Security, Security
Unsurprisingly, security is the key concern for the vast majority of customers, and for good reason. A customer choosing a dedicated data center is likely doing so because their information is at a premium, and they wish to protect it well. Therefore, it is important to have a communicable security protocol in place. While nearly every datacenter knows the importance of data protection from hackers through software security, the physical security of your data center is also important, and your customers will likely want to know your procedures in this regard as well. For instance: How many video cameras do you have installed at your facility? Can you ensure against data loss protection? Who has access to the facility, and when? How long are security records kept? What precautions do you take to protect the data in the event of a fire?
For prospective customers, addressing physical security concerns can be even more important than software security. First, more of your customers are going to understand a physical security system over all the technical details that go into making your software security bulletproof. Second, it sends the message that you take your data services very seriously if you are willing to have a stringent physical security system in place.
2. Act as a Knowledge Base
You might be surprised to hear that many individuals who own or operate datacenters do not communicate in the appropriate language of their business, and indeed too many do not really know the technical information about their daily operations. Therefore, it is important to familiarize yourself with your operations and make it a priority to communicate that to customers.
For instance, a customer may not know the difference between an open and closed transfer, or what an ATS is. You should be prepared to answer queries such as this in language that is easily understood to even those who aren’t technology-savvy. Even better, take the initiative and proactively communicate this information to them. Include information that is directly relevant to their data needs, such as how much power will be allotted to their rack (or rack space). If you can offer a custom solution to a client without a hassle, that will place you light years ahead of competitors who all too often treat their customers as just another gigabyte of data.
3. Location, Efficiency and Availability
Logistical concerns are often overlooked by the data center, but can be of utmost importance to a client. For instance, where are you located? Customers will want a location that is easily accessible, so if you have the option to save them the headache of lugging their systems up 10 flights of stairs, do so. Similarly, consider the placement of your machines, and be sure to explain why they are positioned where they are. Having your racks in front of a window that provides an awesome view may be impressive, but you better be able to guarantee that the incoming sun won’t overheat their systems. Placing machines in a temperature-controlled location, and explaining why, will show that you care about practical concerns more than gloss and polish.
Finally, make someone available to talk to clients. The fastest way to gain or lose a client is through customer service, especially when their essential business data is at stake. Have an employee, preferably an executive, available to sit down and talk it out with customers. Don’t give the impression that you have something better to do, or get exasperated with their questions. Let them know that they can trust you to provide constant, hassle-free access to their data. Having someone in charge talk about data needs with a customer makes a lot of difference when it comes to establishing a positive relationship from the get-go.
As you can see, the most important concept when engendering confidence in a potential client is communication. Having the best data storage system in the world won’t matter if your clients don’t trust you. Of course, you should strive to have the best solutions in place, just make sure your customers know about it.