As nearly every industry under the sun gets disrupted by IT, there are unprecedented opportunities and challenges.
Regardless of company size, location, and vertical, many CEOs and CIOs find it nearly impossible to scale their IT infrastructure and secure it without help from their IT partners which include hosting providers, cloud service providers, managed service providers, and colocation providers.
However, the way that these decision makers and their influencers go about researching and purchasing these services has changed drastically in recent years.
Adapt to a World Where Buyers Control All
Disruptive forces such as search engines, social mobile, mobile devices, cloud computing, and selective consumption have totally turned the traditional sales and marketing playbook on its head. People are tired of being interrupted by obnoxious sales and marketing ploys and have fought back by adopting tools and habits that put them in the driver’s seat. Caller ID, spam blockers, DVRs, and satellite radio, for example, all scratch the same itch for control over unwanted marketing.
As these techniques spilled over from B2C (business to consumer) to B2B (business to business), CEOs, sales directors, and marketing directors of hosting, cloud, managed, and colo providers have had to confront a painful reality: they no longer hold all the cards and no longer control most of the sales cycle.
So pervasive is this lack of control that as much as 70 percent of the decision-making process and in some cases even more, is over before influencers and decision makers are ready for a sales conversation.
How to Get Found Earlier in the Hosting and Cloud Buyer’s Journey
To survive and thrive in this environment, it’s critical to get found by your ideal clients early, often, and in the right context.
Here are six of the biggest revenue eating mistakes companies make:
- Investing your entire budget on one small piece of the puzzle
To be effective, your revenue strategy should take into account differentiation, traffic generation, lead generation, sales cycle acceleration, and retention. All too often, hosting, cloud, managed, and colo providers only pursue a “point” strategy in isolation such as search optimization (SEO) or pay per click advertising (PPC). As an analogy, think about someone building a fantasy baseball team that blows their entire payroll on a single pitcher and catcher; there are virtually no funds left to invest in the other 23 players on the team that are needed to compete.
- Not establishing goals
It’s nearly impossible to know if you’re making progress if you don’t know where you’re going. All too often, IT providers chase after vanity metrics (Likes, Followers, etc.) and an ego-driven agenda with no regard whatsoever to more relevant goals such as client acquisition, revenue growth, sales cycle acceleration, or profit margin improvement.
- Treating all prospects the same
How many CIOs do you know that have the same priorities and worries as sales directors? What would happen if you tried to plan a breakfast seminar or webinar that appealed to both groups? Ten years ago, it might’ve been acceptable to lump everyone’s content strategy into vague categories such as “small business.”
Today there’s simply way too many things competing for your prospects’ highly-fragmented attention. Semi-relevant won’t cut it when you only have two or three seconds to convince a website visitor to stick around and not back-button out of your website
- Keeping sales, marketing, and services in silos
Ten years ago, it was no big problem if your sales team trash-talked your marketing team for doing “arts and crafts projects” or playing with company swag. Or conversely, if your marketing team stereotyped your sales team as a bunch of spoiled, lazy, overpaid, egomaniacs.
In today’s competitive marketplace where getting found early is critical for earning a seat at the table, these silos and toxic beliefs need to disappear and be replaced by much more productive sales and marketing alignment.
- Ignoring promotion and distribution
Too many IT providers write a piece of content, hit the publish button, auto-announce it to a few social profiles, and move on to their next priority. Huge mistake. Without promotion and distribution, even the most remarkable content will usually fail to reach its most receptive audience.
A simple rule of thumb: half the resources on content creation and half the resources on content promotion and distribution
- Not showing up early enough to earn trusted advisor status
If your sales team and executives feel like they’re constantly losing out on deals because the prospect’s mind was already made up, you’re probably absent from most of the buyer’s journey. If you’re getting backed into the corner and forced to slash prices and destroy your margins, again you’re probably not getting found early enough, by the right influencers and decision makers, in the right context.
Now that you know about these six mistakes, what can you do to proactively address these issues, differentiate your company from the competition, and grow revenue profitably?
Learn the answers to these questions and more by attending my session at HostingCon Global 2016 on “How Hosting, Cloud, Managed, and Colo Service Providers Use Inbound to Differentiate and Grow Revenue” on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at 11:00 am (Central) in room 206 of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.
About the author: Joshua Feinberg is Vice President and Co-Founder of SP Home Run, Inc. — which helps hosting, cloud, managed services, and data center providers grow their leads, client base, revenue, and profitability.