Both Pitchers and Catchers Required on the Cloud Ball field
by Beth Vanni, Vice President
Telecom service providers used to be customers in the tech world. Now they’re channel partners — in fact, really strategic partners, in the wake of cloud computing. And, like with any emerging channel type, developing and nurturing a partner development team to help these major players get up to bat and hit some home runs in the cloud services space will take some well-orchestrated staffing support and dugout coordination by vendors.
Cloud services are growing faster and more disruptively than many emerging technologies of the past. To that end, it is critical that vendors look at the entire staffing model required to sufficiently support the large telecom service providers, and have their strongest players at every position; even if that means in some cases providing field sales reps and/or technical architect at the deal level to step in as the pinch hitter.
In Amazon Consulting’s recent channel research entitled, Telecom Service Provider: Cloud Leader or Laggard?, vendors cited the importance of vendors providing dedicated staff to offer training, technical architecture support and deal assistance to the large service providers. Additionally, over 50% agreed that providing a Global Alliance Manager who owns the business plan and joint success metrics with these large providers was essential. Similar to the manager of a baseball team, this individual acts as the critical connect point within the vendors’ headquarters, directing the various cross-functional resources (technical, sales, marketing, support) to help these large carriers more easily migrate customers from an on-premise IT mindset to that of private, hybrid of public cloud implementations.
Bob Gault, Vice President of Worldwide Service Providers from Cisco states insightfully: “We need both pitchers and catchers on these big service providers. We have dedicated staffing at every level.” He was referring to the daily collaborative relationship they’re trying to achieve between their headquarters Global Alliance Manager roles and their field deal-level regional sales managers, all working with their largest global service providers as important and growing partnerships. Cisco and Gault’s biggest challenge with this emerging channel? Like many of his vendor peers, getting the Cisco product-centric team to speak the same language and share a common customer management and migration process as their service provider annuity-savvy sales teams.
This graph gives you an idea of what type of support the large SPs are requiring, supporting the importance of local technical resources and co-selling support (i.e., “catchers”)
IT vendors need to more aggressively change their scorecard and ultimately their teams’ compensation around the tier one service providers, migrating from a sell-in revenue model to one that is based on some combination of sell-through new contracts, renewal rates, and multi-year agreements. These metrics will allow the HQ and field teams to work together more effectively to grow these service giants into the IT services space. By re-evaluating the process and people focused on making these big services-savvy players successful, vendors will accelerate their service providers’ cloud sales and marketing success, and leverage the vast resources these players bring to the long-term services game. This should help ensure that this emerging (and potentially disruptive) channel creates a winning record around IT and cloud services that goes beyond the first season.