The Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines a cloud as a “visible mass of particles of condensed vapor.” According to CIOs interviewed for an article in the June edition of the Harvard Business Review magazine, cloud computing might as well be defined as “vaporware.”
The article includes research by Gartner Group VP, Mark McDonald, who found that CIOs interest in the cloud has grown from 5% in 2009 to 37% earlier this year. However, three out of four respondents who said they were interested, reported little interest in the three key technologies it entails: server virtualization, service-oriented architecture and SaaS (software as a service).
These figures may entice you to conclude that this is a great opportunity for a salesforce to provide value in explaining the Cloud and define a company’s solution; a rare situation where the salesforce can be “solution sellers”. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case, according to Forrester’s Technology Buyer Insight Study: Are Salespeople Prepared for Executive Conservations?
Of the IT executives interviewed for the April 2010 study, only 15% of executives believe that their meetings with salespeople are valuable and live up to their expectations.
Reasons given according to the report:
- Business leaders (24%) don’t believe salespeople are knowledgeable about their specific business.
- Only 34% of buying executives said salespeople understand their roles and responsibilities.
- And across the board, only 38% feel that reps are prepared to answer their questions.
Could this be a case of the blind leading the blind? Confusion around cloud computing even occurs at the highest levels of leading Information technology conglomerates. One story accounts for the CEO of a large information technology firm asking his senior executives to explain cloud computing to him. When no one could convey a clear answer, the CEO fired back that if they can’t sell it to him, then their company cannot sell it to customers.
There is no doubt that the Cloud is making as much noise as any good thunderstorm. Companies are reallocating resources and investments to the Cloud. Countless marketing dollars are being spent to get companies in the consideration set. As with any good technology trend the hype exceeds the reality.
The real challenge seems not to be marketing the Cloud, but rather selling it. Those companies who best enable their sales people to break through the noise will reap the greatest benefit.
As the head of the Washington, DC office and leader of channel marketing practice, Scott focuses on using proprietary knowledge and experience with complex BtoB and BtoC business models to help clients improve sales and marketing performance. Scott has been named Top 50 B2B Blogger by several groups and his project work on building integrated sales and marketing pipelines at Avaya was made into a Harvard Business School case study. Scott was also named "Innovator of the Year" while at MarketBridge.