5 essentials to ensure the success of your data centre proposition

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Also posted on: IT Infrastructure

An effective go-to-market program is about getting the right combination of resources, to deliver complete working solutions to the most appropriate target markets, articulated consistently and engagingly over a period of time that adds clear value to both the customer and the vendor.

This is not merely a marketing communications exercise. This involves engaging and orchestrating senior management, product development, sales, marketing, implementation and customer support into a cohesive whole. The output from such an exercise provides the blueprint upon which the marketing department or external agency can go and develop successful sales and marketing campaigns.

In this article we layout an overview of the 5 key areas that data centre operators need to focus on to maximise their chances of success in highly competitive and sometimes seemingly commoditised markets. Then, in future articles we will expand on each of the 5 key areas.

Target Market Identification
A target market is not (necessarily) an industry vertical. A well-defined target market comprises a list of prospective customers, united by a common set of needs, who reference each other before making a buying decision. Failure to identify and clearly define target markets leads to wasted effort as customers with no need for, or interest in, your solution or proposition are engaged. Sales targets are unlikely to be met and prices will be under downward pressure as sales resort to discounting to gain attention. Costs will increase as extra services or components are added to address individual customer requirements.

Completeness of Proposition
It is imperative that the customer gets what he or she has paid for. You need to ensure that all the solution components are in place, that all service delivery and post-sales support functions have been covered, that all the relevant channel partners and allies are signed up and that everyone inside the company and in partner organisations understand their specific roles and responsibilities in relation to sales, marketing and support services. It also ensures that everyone can articulate the value of your proposition and engage consistently at the right level in your target customers.

Poor sales conversion rates, as opportunities are lost during the sales process, are often a sure sign that the proposition hasn’t been completed to properly address the needs of the market. There are likely to be multiple requests for enhancements to the proposition to make it competitive which adds costs to the program or there is significant pressure to discount. In the event the sales are made there is also a likelihood of having to address shortcomings in a proposition that didn’t match up to its description. This adds significant cost and disruption and can lead to negative impacts on brand reputation.

Channels and Partners
You need to understand when to seek help from a partner to put together a complete, compelling, differentiated solution, and when you need to use effective indirect sales channels to reach your target customers. Then you need to determine how to organise your different partners and sales channels, so that everyone knows what is expected of them and how and where they interact with you and your target customer.

Roles and Responsibilities
People responsible for all elements of product development, marketing, sales, service delivery and customer support should be identified, and resource commitments agreed. A go-to-market program is a machine with multiple cogs. Without all the cogs engaged at the right time you will be pedaling but not making progress.

Failure to identify the right metrics and key performance indicators is likely to result in a program without senior management support. The inability to track performance will result in problems not being identified early so that corrective action can be taken, leading to cost wastage and missed sales opportunities.

In complex-systems B2B markets market share-metrics are rarely helpful in terms of setting targets and justifying investment. Long sales cycles and the high value of deals tend to skew market share metrics. Also, there will be little external source of accurate market share metrics in the very specific segments that are targeted. Working closely with sales management, getting agreement on likely deal sizes, win rates and setting realistic margin goals will enable you to set metrics that both justify the required investment and enable you to monitor the success of the program.

This post first appeared on the old Cassini Reviews website.