Traditionally, small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have been the late adopters on the innovation bell curve. With finite resources, SMBs are more careful in terms of risk-taking and are often reluctant to implement new technology. However, times are changing and the vast majority of small businesses are eager to adopt new, cutting-edge solutions—including cloud services. According to Forbes, 78 percent of U.S. small businesses will have fully adopted cloud computing by 2020, more than doubling the 37 percent rate in 2015.1
No longer just for large businesses, cloud integration is essential for all companies that want to remain competitive and efficient. Today, opportunities abound for resellers to help accelerate an SMB’s transition to cloud service providers (CSPs). Here are three ways to unlock the SMB opportunity and encourage business owners to quickly make the move to the cloud:
Keep Solutions Simple
Resellers should be mindful to not overwhelm SMB owners with the sheer number of cloud solutions available on the market. SMBs often have to work within tight budgets and, therefore, prefer to invest in an all-in-one cloud solution that addresses their business’ primary pain points. IDC’s 2015 Business Continuity Study showed that the majority of SMBs report an annual IT budget of up to $20,000, with 14 percent of that budget allocated to business continuity. 2
Cloud services on a subscription basis can help eliminate many of these business continuity costs associated with on-premises IT, often starting with productivity solutions. Productivity is a common pain point for SMBs and a great starting point for resellers, because productivity offerings may be more likely to be adopted first.
Every small business will have different cloud requirements, so it’s essential for resellers to take the time to learn about each client’s specific needs. Resellers can ensure a smooth transition to the cloud by offering a CSP solution that is user friendly, easily implemented, cost-effective and addresses the most urgent needs of the SMB. One such solution, Microsoft CSP, streamlines company communications, allows users to work on projects simultaneously and enables teams to share documents easily.
Small businesses may initially want to leverage one cloud solution, but after realizing the benefit of cloud technologies, they will often look to add more services as needed. Resellers can add bundles of relevant solutions, or include add-on services, to maximize this opportunity and provide the solutions SMBs need to transform their business operations.
Reinforce the “Client First” Relationship
In a survey by ZS Associates, 47 percent of the SMBs purchased cloud solutions directly, and many reported “lukewarm satisfaction and loyalty” for their cloud services resellers.3 Regular contact with clients at every step of the CSP transition process ensures that they’re getting the cloud support they deserve. As simple as it sounds, availability to answer questions and offer technical support after sales are made are critical for a reseller’s continued relationship with SMB clients.
Small businesses place a high value on relationships with resellers who can help with implementation and offer ongoing support. Resellers who are involved in critical aspects of the buying process—such as assessing vendors, design solutions and implementation—build better connections with clients, and have a greater opportunity to promote additional cloud offerings in the form of customer support and education.
Offer Flexibility with Services
SMBs require flexible cloud solutions and services in order to grow sustainably. Resellers can offer a scalable framework to easily add on projects and solutions as SMBs need them, without costly modifications to the client. Monthly billing options and self-service management platforms for cloud services, like the Tech Data Cloud Solutions Store, which allows resellers to customize their offerings to reflect their own business model, are two such features that can help resellers build a more tailored, flexible solution for their clients.
Solutions built with flexibility in mind allow resellers to maximize their offerings, and easily customize and bundle new solutions as the SMB grows. Cloud-based continuous delivery of services with subscription-based pricing makes it easier for SMBs to budget for cloud services, because the pricing model is predictable and manageable. Investing in a pay-as-you-go cloud solution eliminates the upfront cost of buying new software, and enables SMBs to make better use of their time. Having the freedom to pay for only what is needed to manage growth and enhance efficiency on a monthly basis also gives business owners the chance to explore what other IT services they could move to the cloud, and in return, gives resellers the chance to add more services to the package.
With flexible pricing and less complicated integration, cloud services continue to grow as a viable solution for SMBs. However, as more cloud services become available on the market, many business owners have difficulty sorting through solutions to find the one that will address their primary business needs.
Resellers can take advantage of this burgeoning market by creating tailored, simple solutions for SMBs, building close relationships with their clients and offering flexible services to allow for small business growth. At Tech Data, we’re focused on empowering our MSP and reseller partners as they implement cloud services and unlock the SMB opportunity—offering infrastructure, education and the tools necessary to thrive in the cloud marketplace. Contact Tech Data today to learn more about the reseller’s advantage in the growing SMB market for cloud services.
About The Author
Stacy Nethercoat has served as Vice President, Tech Data Cloud since August 2014. In her role, Nethercoat oversees all product marketing programs and initiatives developed to support the company’s Tech Data Cloud division in the Americas, designed to enable Tech Data’s channel of resellers through education and adoption of cloud and subscription-based services. After joining Tech Data in 1995 as a pricing consultant for the company’s European operations, Nethercoat served as a director in the Sales and Marketing Operations divisions and was promoted to vice president of SMB Sales, a position she held for five years. Prior to Tech Data, she served in various finance and operations leadership roles with companies such as American Bankers Insurance Group and Lucky Stores Inc. Nethercoat was recognized by CRN magazine as one of the “Top 100 Women in the Channel” in 2009 and currently serves on the board of directors for Clothes to Kids. She holds a B.B.A. from University of Iowa.