CRN Exclusive: Intelisys' New Cloud Services University Track To Help Partners 'Separate From the Pack'

Master Agent Intelisys unveiled a new educational track within its popular Cloud Services University Tuesday to help partners close bigger, more complex cloud deals.

The latest track -- Advanced Cloud Methodology Expert certification -- spun out of an inclusive, live partner training program that Intelisys launched in April called Super9. The training included nine hand-selected partners out of Intelisys' community of over 2,000 sales partners that are seeing success in selling cloud services. The track offers a combination of online training that includes edited Super9 footage and feedback from Super9 partners.

"The sales process really has to evolve to keep pace with changing buyer habits and preferences," Andrew Pryfogle, Intelisys' senior vice president of cloud transformation and creator of Cloud Services University told CRN. "This track is really designed to challenge customer thinking, to educate customers, and help [partners] separate themselves from anyone else who might be trying to sell cloud services."

[Related: Intelisys On Being Acquired By ScanSource: 'We're Going To Need A Bigger Boat']

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The new Advanced Cloud Methodology Expert track differs from existing Cloud Services University tracks because it's more focused on sales methodology and is less product-centric. This approach will help solution providers become more proficient as cloud deals grow larger and more complex, Pryfogle said.

"Customers are getting sick of answering questions, but what they are hungry for is to be educated, and be presented with insight they hadn't considered before," he said. "In order to do that, partners have to use a completely different approach … and focus on unique insights for customers, rather than being just another salesperson."

Onward Communications is a Portland, Ore.-based telecom and cloud consulting firm. The solution provider is an Intelisys Platinum Partner and Super9 member who has been very successful selling cloud solutions, which now account for about 70 to 80 percent of sales today for the provider.

The latest Cloud Services University track will be a different experience for partners because of the real-life case studies presented during the Super9 meeting, said Tricia Ward, founder of Onward Communications.

"We all took real customer scenarios and worked with various suppliers, and then presented the case studies to the rest of the group, who evaluated the case studies," Ward said.

Foundational to the new track is the "bite-sized" Super9 video content, Pryfogle said.

"You'll hear our partners talking, and this intimate dialog with our sales partners asking experts questions and bringing up customer examples, and really working though how these methods apply in the real world," he said.

Via the new track, partners will have access to cloud sales training on topics such as process alignment, maintaining sales momentum, and proposal creation, as well as education on specific technologies including security solutions, disaster recovery as a service, and SD-WAN. In addition to the video segments, the track includes quizzes, as well as printed content for partners, Pryfogle said.

The new track takes a slightly different approach than many cloud education programs in existence today for partners, Onward's Ward said.

"This track has more to do with discovering what a customer's business goals are. The approach is not about the [partner] trying to push a solution on them, but rather building a solution based on what the customer's drivers are."

The self-paced Advanced Cloud Methodology Expert certification track is available today to partners, joining Intelisys' five existing tracks, including Telecom Solutions Professional, Advanced Data Networking Solutions Professional, UCaaS Solutions, and Network and Data Security.

According to Pryfogle, about 80 percent of Intelisys' cloud wins today come from partners involved with Cloud Services University.

Membership for Cloud Services University isn't restricted to Intelisys partners. The latest training track, along with the rest of the Cloud Services University content, is available for free to any solution provider that has registered for Intelisys' Cloud Services University.

Last week Intelisys agreed to be acquired by IT distributor ScanSource for $83.6 million. Pryfogle believes that the new certification track will especially help to attract VAR partners, a group within the channel community that has struggled with getting into cloud services and recurring revenue, he said.

"So many VARs are trying to figure out how to have these conversations, so we absolutely will see our education expand to these partners, especially as this acquisition closes," Pryfogle said.

Intelisys' Super9 training includes a monthly group training component, and the master agent will be offering additional live Super9 meetings in 2017, Intelisys said.