A recent survey by N3, a global leader in cloud selling headquartered in Atlanta, sheds some light on what it takes to sell seats successfully on the cloud. N3 helps well-known clients like Microsoft, Hitachi, SAP, HP and OpenText boost utilization in the cloud across the globe.

The company recently asked 200 decision makers who drive purchase and utilization what customers and prospects really respond to.

Let’s take them in reverse order.

7. Lack of understanding slows user adoption.

Many division heads try implementing cloud services without buy-in from legacy IT departments. Getting staff up to speed on new capabilities can prove an uphill battle and often the purchaser isn’t even aware of all the benefits of the new system. User education has traditionally fallen into the lap of the buying company, but with so much riding on adoption, vendors must step in to make sure customers understand and fully use the new system.

6. Get on the phone and start listening.

Most new cloud implementations struggle with getting people to use the system properly, and live education and explanation is the best solution. “With all the focus on automation, there’s the potential to lose sight of the power of integrating tele-based inside sales,” said Jeff Laue, CEO of N3. “It’s the fastest and most personal way to provide customized information and education. There is just no substitute for the human touch in driving adoption and closing business.”

Over 82% of those surveyed said the telephone is the most important
communication mode in increasing adoption of cloud platforms.

5. Minimizing downtime is the main benefit driving cloud migration.

It turns out the biggest benefit the market sees in the cloud is outsourcing software maintenance. According to CA Technologies, IT downtime costs companies $26.5 billion in lost revenue. Outsourcing the responsibility of stability to a company that specializes in uptime and availability makes sense. Stability is key in driving adoption because users will quickly abandon a platform that suffers downtime.

4. Boosting utilization takes time and multiple touches.

Encouraging users to adopt a new platform isn’t immediate. More than 43% of survey respondents said it takes at least four touches to start moving significant seats on a cloud solution and getting users engaged. There are no shortcuts — only patience and persistence help users get over the hump. Proactively reaching out to those who need the most help, identified by metrics like who did or did not watch training videos, speeds up this process

3. Understand the principle of customer lifetime value.

Forget the classic 80-20 rule. In the cloud, the top 20% customers account for 87% of revenue. But that 20%, the “whales,” aren’t necessarily made up of the largest clients because 15 employees on a platform for 3 straight years are worth more than an account with 250 users that jumps ship in two months. With virtually no barriers to entry or exit, cultivating migrations with solid adoption is more important than the “big win.”

2. Alleviate security concerns.

All companies want to minimize risk, and a rash of high-profile data breaches has brought security concerns to the forefront. When data is transmitted to and stored on remote servers, of course it is less secure, right?

The answer is no, but security was cited by more than half
of the respondents as the number one concern among consumers.

Cloud solution providers must underscore how secure the cloud is in order to get customers on board. Many companies can vastly improve security by storing in the cloud instead of on-site, but perceptions of vulnerabilities take time and effort to erode.

1. Empathy is still king.

Expecting something more surprising? After all this time and even with all the new technological bells and whistles, putting yourself in the place of your customer moves the needle more than anything else.

More than half of the surveyed business development reps said that understanding pain points and presenting solid business solutions is the trait that prospects respond the best to. The value of a one-on-one conversation in real time can’t be overstated, whether marketing widgets or driving adoption on cloud platforms.

“Throughout more than ten years of marketing technology solutions, we have discovered again and again that absolutely nothing impacts revenue more than placing the right people in the right conversations along the sales funnel, from initial lead qualification to contract renewal,” said Laue.

More empowered than ever, users don’t have to spend an extra day struggling with an interface they don’t like or wishing for functionality they don’t have. They can jump to a new platform with virtually no upfront cost.

As much as the cloud has turned the software model on its head, a few classically proven ways of relating to customers coupled with a solid understanding of the recurring revenue model helps build the adoption rate that is the new metric of success in the cloud.