This is not meant to be a boring article, nor a normal cliche techniques, it is full of ideas and hints, philosophy and even principles of wars, & that’s why we will use war tactics to sell Azure, why? because if everyone used war tactics to sell Azure, no one will use them in war! but as every piece of paper you write to a wide number of audience, we need an initial start to describe what is going on the cloud world from a Microsoft perspective (if you are not technical, a cloud computing is just a computer operated by someone else for you) #IhopethatHelps.
Microsoft has announced a “cloud-first” strategy a few years ago, followed it by massive transformation on every sector to reflect this strategy that is working on a continuous build efforts to support the expected growth and ensure it happens even faster than the time planned for it (check latest Microsoft reorg), this successful strategy started to pay off by tripling the number of sales for Azure over the last 3 years & getting much closer to the tough competitors in the market who got a very good repetition in selling almost the same services, & still capturing a bigger market share.
Probably you have heard about Sun Tzu /(Master Sun)? if you didn’t, it’s okay, I was not interested as well to know about Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher who lived in the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China until I read his famous book Art of War. While I hate wars, I was interested to know the art behind it & inspired by that I’ve created the below capsules to tell you solid approaches you can rely on for selling all Azure services.
Capsule # 1 (command and conquer )
“An army may be likened to water, for just as flowing water avoids the heights and hastens to the lowlands, so an army avoids strength and strikes weakness.” Sun Tzu
What does that means? it means simply avoid your competitor’s strength, and attack their weakness
Check out the below core strengths capsule of Azure:
The most regions
Achieve global scale with 40 announced Azure regions. The expansion means that you can choose the data center and region that’s right for you and your customers, with the performance and support you need, where you need it.
Unmatched hybrid capabilities
Azure offers real hybrid consistency everywhere & you save up to 40 per cent when migrating Windows Server virtual machines to Azure using the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit
The strongest intelligence
Azure is the only public cloud that provides Cognitive APIs, Bots, Machine Learning and Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) capabilities for developers and data scientists. Build intelligent solutions at scale by pairing these capabilities with powerful GPU-based compute to accelerate deep learning, enable HPC simulations and conduct real-time data analytics using Azure N-Series Virtual Machines.
Capsule # 2 (Live in your world, play in ours)
“Therefore, those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him.” Sun Tzu
Use alliances and strategic control points in the industry to create the competition rules.
Any developer, architect, technical leader or CTO, who was developing in the past using .Net frameworks, they are Azure alliances, any client, company who prefer Microsoft stack of technology are Azure strategic control points but selling to them will require parallel efforts beside the normal sales approach. they deserve to pay extra attention to their real problems and solutions for it, in a nutshell below is points for attracting new alliances and current clients capsule:
Free tier to try Azure (Community) – more flexibility in negotiations with first-time buyers (Clients)
The current free tier is less in capabilities than other competitors free tiers “in some areas ” and Microsoft super power has always been in its ability to saturate the technology market with whatever stack-holders need for free, give them bigger free tier, get bigger feedbacks and new fans easily. same on the clients level, the more flexibility you show to them in making the deal, the easier the decision will be.
Proactively solving problems and addressing issues (I don’t mean making POCs for Azure features or “Hello World” examples)
Usually presales teams in companies create POCs to address and solve some problems using some features “which is great” but that’s not the extra mile, if you wanna go the extra mile, you need to be able to address the real problem, I’ve seen many examples for people who rely on POCs and once they start the actual implementation, they face tons of complications that got raised from a specific business requirement and needs,
What should you do? presales engagement should be more focused on solving a real problem in advance, proactively creating advanced scenarios for many problems, these solutions must take into consideration the normal integration technologies factors and mix between technology stacks at clients, or similar issues like that.
Capsule # 3 (Solutions for a small planet)
“To rely on rustics and not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues.” Sun Tzu
Azure has many features, and migrating clients from on perm to on cloud can be a real hassle in terms of time & cost, being ready & equipped by the optimal solutions for different scenarios is what you gonna see in the next capsule
Avoiding the capital expense of purchasing new server hardware.
Azure has many benefits over any other competitor, but these benefits need to be addressed in advance as per customer scenario, let’s assume a customer is paying for operation & maintenance double what he could pay on Azure, then a lift-and-shift approach would be a cost-effective solution for him to leverage Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure to scale up or down as needed.
Building new “cloud-native” applications or simply moving applications from on-site servers to the cloud within a virtual machine (VM).
If a customer needs scaling solutions but his current technology stack is costing him more in development & maintenance then refactoring the solution to utilize Azure features will be more beneficial and also cost-effective.
Capsule # 4 (a mind is a terrible thing to waste)
Take advantage of the enemy’s unpreparedness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack him where he has taken no precautions.” The most significant point for the purpose of creative execution is the idea of making your way by “unexpected routes.” Sun Tzu
It’s all about unexpected routes, which can be achieved if you got yourself equipped with creativity & innovation, applying creativity is not an easy task, but having creative features on Azure that only exists there is indeed a path to follow to leverage these features, how to achieve that is what we are talking about in the next capsule
Foster a Culture of Innovation to Push Boundaries
Azure has new features every day, just a few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the preview of awesome features like Azure Power Shell which is authenticated, browser-based shell experience hosted in Azure, and is accessible from anywhere, or Microsoft Bot framework etc, encourage your team to take one step ahead and show your clients what awesome things can you do with it, again no need for another “create azure resource group examples”, or even solutions to complex scenarios “in this capsule” instead you need an innovative solution, utilizing it into something which was not there before, and will be desired tomorrow, so remember creativity is the key here!
Apply Deep Focus (whisper to managers)
Developing innovative plans requires focus and depth. Sun Tzu called for leaders to make time to break away from the clutter of warfare: “It is the business of a general to be quiet and thus ensure depth in deliberation; impartial and upright, and thus keep a good management.” and so are your teams, if you going to digest this capsule and put it into an action, remember you can’t pressure someone to get out a creative solution, your resources will need time.
Capsule # 5 (Like sleeping on a cloud)
Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.
The quote above is not for Sun Tzu “obviously” & could not be a quote at all but I decided to promote it to be a quote, why? because you are not selling cloud services that rely on open source stack of technologies, NO, you are selling a Microsoft product, and all Microsoft products are standing out singing alone when it comes to this point, besides the fact that Azure really got a very nice support features which ill mention one of it in this capsule.
Professional & premier customer service & support
Microsoft offers exceptional after sales services, so you are selling what’s beyond Azure, you can sell as well the access to the top talents world wide working for Microsoft support teams in resolving Azure issues anytime day or night and in several languages as well.
Azure Service Health
When issues in Azure services affect your business-critical resources, Azure Service Health notifies you and your teams, helps you understand the impacts of the issue, and keeps you updated as the issue is resolved. It also helps you prepare for planned maintenance and changes that could affect the availability of your resources.
Azure Services Communities
You are selling as well MSDN, Reddit, StackOverFlow that talks about Azure day & night, it is not a cloud service consumed by hundreds, you are selling a service that is ranked from the top 3 world wide.
** Core Strength Capsule => Features Azure got, Competitors don’t have it.
** Attracting new alliances and current clients Capsule => Real free service tier, proactively “real” problems for clients & not just “Hello world” examples
** Get equipped with optimal solutions Capsule => migrating to cloud is not an easy decision, make it easy by acquiring the optimal solutions for complex scenarios in advance, know the best approach and then make the offer.
** Innovation Capsule => selling is the art of satisfying a need with a creative value, it is that simple, build creative “stuff” that never existed before and sell it.
** After Sales Capsule => Take advantage of Microsoft support model which is already very solid, and simply sell it! because clients will not only get a service, they will get as well Microsoft support super powers (paid support, free support, communities and Azure features)
Cloud services are not a question anymore, it is all about when & how. remember always that answering those questions proactively using different approaches, equipped with creative solutions & utilizing all the resources you got is what will secure your next sale.
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