Solution Provider CMT: Cloud Means We Have To Rethink How We Sell

When solution provider CMT first started its managed services business and prepared to move to the cloud, it had a small sales force dedicated to an annuity business, said Dennis Mueller, vice president of innovation and emerging technologies.

"According to best practices, that is the best way to do it," Mueller said. "So we separated them from our traditional sales force."

But over the past 18 months or so, CMT found that the business is not as clear-cut as analysts say.

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"You can't make the best money selling one or the other, but instead need both the cloud and the on-premises technology," he said. "Customers are moving some of their infrastructure to the cloud and keeping some on-premise. When our people sold the cloud, they missed some on-premise business. And when they sold on-premise, they missed some cloud opportunities."

So CMT, Santa Clara, Calif., made the move to integrate its cloud and infrastructure sales teams to better address the opportunities, said Mueller.

"It's been a very interesting change," he said. "It's one we figured would come, but not so quickly. A lot of our enterprise customers are looking to the cloud. And if our reps are not talking to them, someone else will."

CMT also found out that businesses are changing how they adopt the cloud.

For instance, Mueller said, CMT originally felt that smaller customers with fewer than 3,000 seats would adopt the cloud faster than enterprises would, and that they would adopt the cloud in small chunks like they do most technologies.

"But in large enterprises, when they bite off the cloud, they do it in big chunks," he said. "They do it in hundreds of terabytes and hundreds of compute cycles."

CMT discovered that the adoption of the cloud meant forming new kinds of relationships as well.

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"The people buying the cloud are not the same people we talked to in the past," Mueller said. "It's now people in the business units. We're selling to HR managers and development managers, not the CIOs and CTOs. A, the CIOs and CTOs feel a threat to their business, and B, they're always making the cloud decisions."

In the end, customers are interested in an annuity base that runs without their own infrastructure, but at the same time want to leverage their on-premise infrastructure for the cloud, Mueller said.

"So our sales teams were combined," he said. "Now they can offer customers an on-premise solution, the cloud, and a hybrid solution. And now our sales forces are not competing against each other."

That was not always the case, Mueller said. "A couple times, we found multiple people hunting in the same accounts," he said. "When the sales managers found out, there was some hand-slapping."

But that only proved that, when customers are looking for an on-premise solution, they were also considering the cloud, Mueller said.

"It's stupid to leave business on the table," he said. "And it's stupid to not provide all the customer's needs."