Rackspace Channel CTO: Overcome ‘Human Nature’ to Effectively Sell Cloud

By | Managed Services News

Jan 17

Rackspace’s Paul Croteau talks about how partners are leaving money on the table in cloud sales.

Perfecting the art of selling cloud services and platforms remains a hot topic within the channel.

Paul Croteau, channel CTO at Rackspace, will address that burning issue on Tuesday, March 10, during the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. Partners must get a firm grasp on understanding their customers’ business goals and strategies to effectively discuss and offer the next generation of networking technology. In this edited Q&A, Croteau shares some insights ahead of his session, “You’re Leaving Lots of Money on the Table: Uncovering Cloud Revenue from the C-Suite, part of the sales and marketing conference track.

Channel Futures: This topic of changing the conversation from tech-only to business outcomes goes back many years. Why does shifting the discussion remain such a challenge for the channel?

Rackspace's Paul Croteau

Rackspace’s Paul Croteau

Paul Croteau: I think it’s just a matter of human nature; people tend to avoid asking questions or talking about subjects they are not familiar with. Much of my experience the past few years has been with channel sellers who have mainly focused on the networking side of the technology stack. Taking the conversation outside of the telco room into the boardroom might be considered a big leap for many sellers; those audiences have different backgrounds and ask different questions. I always tell my channel sellers that I don’t want them becoming experts in my company’s portfolio, or experts in the cloud in general. I want them to become better at talking about business scenarios. It’s OK to step out of the telco closet!

CF: What additional insight can you share that might help partners understand why it’s so critical to adopt this different approach to client conversations?

PC: When you speak with business leaders about their business, instead of talking about one specific piece of hardware or software and its features, that leads to topics like staffing and other current challenges.

CF: Building on the above question and answer, why is this all particularly important when discussing cloud products and services?

PC: This gets back to my human-nature comment. Cloud is still very new to many business leaders; it’s not something you implement on your own. It’s important to engage subject-matter experts who have experience and know how to guide these business and technical conversations. Many customers simply don’t know what they don’t know; the same applies to salespeople. At Rackspace we have a phrase: “The cloud is for everyone but not everything.” We help customers understand how to best leverage this new business paradigm. This is why it’s vital to engage cloud subject matter experts as early in the sales process as possible.

Join Croteau and 100+ industry-leading speakers, more than 6,400 partners and 300+ key vendors, distributors and master agents at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, March 9-12. Register now!

CF: What’s one key, direction-changing question partners can pose to someone in the C-suite to shift the conversation to business outcomes?

PC: “What would the business impact be if your main application went down for three hours today? Are you able to carry on or will it shut you down?” This shifts the focus away from speeds and feeds, and opens the door to actual business-impact discussions.

CF: What are some of the most common business outcomes C-suite execs are looking for from cloud, in your experience?

PC: This has changed over the past couple of years. In 2018, leaders were looking to improve the speed of their service delivery, to become more agile, to make their IT infrastructure more redundant and resilient. There was a lot of “cloud peer pressure” — some leaders felt compelled to move to the cloud even though …

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