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Cloud computing can offer small and midsize companies wonderful potential benefits -- in cost savings, time efficiency and simplifying business processes. However, solution providers must be able to distill the hype from the benefits of cloud computing to provide a solid foundation for any solution. (See what Presidio's Dave Hart, executive vice president and CTO, said in his CRN Tech Elite blog: Dispelling Industry Hype.)
Following are eight typical customer concerns you'll need to address when selling a cloud solution.
1. Will I save money by going to the cloud?
SMB customers are acutely aware of the challenge of minimizing cost, while being able to maximize their offerings. "SMBs won't buy your cloud-based IT offerings unless you can clearly demonstrate both immediate and ongoing cost savings.," said Jacob Kazakevich, president of OS33, a cloud-based IT-as-a-Service platform provider for MSPs, "While a move to the cloud is generally expected to bring significant cost savings, the real challenge is to demonstrate the specific savings to the customer. Providing a detailed quote that clearly demonstrates the savings in hardware, management and operations costs realized by moving IT assets to the cloud is critical."
2. Is a cloud solution the answer to my business challenge?
Identify the customer's problem first, and then sell the solution. "One thing that cloud does is level the playing field. It allows them to access the technology, services that they normally could not on their own," said Margaret Dawson, vice president of product management at solution provider Hubspan. That means that both large and small customers might benefit from going to the cloud. But because there is so much hype about cloud solutions, customers sometimes approach solving their business challenges in a backwards way: They try to fit cloud into the solution instead of seeing if the best solution is in the cloud. "You need to evaluate the cloud like you would any other technology," Dawson added. "So, one of the things I often tell people is, 'Don't buy the cloud, buy the solution.' If that solution happens to be the cloud, great. But don't start there, start with the challenge you are having."