Success in the storage management software space will hinge largely on how the hardware-focused storage industry can change the way it sells and markets to customers. These changes will have a fundamental impact on how storage companies structure their selling models and channel programs. Selling complex enterprise software is a very different proposition from pitching RAID or a high-performance tape device. This type of selling requires an approach more oriented toward business impact and business value than cost per megabyte or speed of a backup. Here are key new skills storage solution providers will need to succeed in a software-driven market.
The Consultative Sell
Selling enterprise software is a very different sell than hardware. Solution providers must focus on creating a vision of what the end result of deploying the software will look like. Improved produc-tivity, cost avoidance, reduced risk of data loss and better decision making. These are the reasons why IT organizations will be interested in deploying storage management software.
Focus on Business Value
While disk purchases could be justified by an inherent need for more capacity, software investments must be tied to a decrease in cost, an increase in revenue or a reduction of business risk. This requires a different type of discussion, asking financial impact-oriented questions and searching for hard and soft costs that can be addressed. No matter how excited the technologist becomes over the new functionality, the rubber meets the road in defining how the business or operations will improve post-deployment.
Get Ahead of the Buying Decision
To succeed in selling software, storage solution providers must get ahead of the buying decision and become part of the planning and design phase. It is here where solution providers not only influence the decisions about what software to deploy, but also provide design, project management and consulting services. This will give solution providers greater influence over decision making, consulting revenue and a preferred place at the table when software, hardware and service contracts are being finalized.
Transitioning from hardware-oriented selling to software selling can be challenging. It takes sustained effort to change the way solution providers sell and deliver value. It also means evolving a business model from one based on transactions to one based on managing client relationships and projects. Moving forward, storage solution providers may need to look at re-tooling both selling and business models to adapt to a market focused on software.
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