blog - trainingThe number one challenge that came up In a survey that I did from talking with several hundred Cloud Computing Vice President of Sales was how to implement a strategy that would educate the customer on Cloud Computing. Lack of knowledge on the part of the customer on cloud computing led to inaction and a decision to put the purchase decision on hold or to not purchase. CIO’s would feel it would be better to do nothing than to make a perceived wrong decision that could jeopardize the CIO’s or other decision maker’s position. Ultimately traditional sales processes do not work in this cloud era. The paradigm has now shifted to education and other strategies.

I have spoken with many Cloud organizations about various topics such as prospecting, referrals, relationship building, handling objections, presentations, communication, closing, service after the sale, loyalty, and retention as covered in typical sales training. Of course, these must be covered through the organization’s sales training to have a successful sales team. There is one topic in particular that the top companies teach their reps and that is… education strategy for the potential customers. I have another name for it – Value Content Marketing. It is necessary to provide much educational value content to the CIO’s, Directors of Information Technology, CFO’s and all the other individuals that are involved in the purchasing process. Once the customer sees that you know what you are talking about than the business will follow.

Successful Cloud companies know that it isn’t the number of hours their sales force spends in training that matters – it’s the focus of that training that makes all the difference. It is not enough to simply possess product and market knowledge and be able to close a deal. If a sales force is going to be highly successful, they are going to need extensive training on Cloud strategy: strategic markets, strategic products, marketing strategies, and the strategies unique to their organization.

What to do is important…BUT how to think is a vital part of the equation.

When I recruit CEO’s Presidents, VP Sales, and sales reps, I always ask probing questions to get a feel for how they have been trained to think. I know that those who have been trained to think strategically are going to be successful.

In my 25+ years of recruiting and managing, I have come across all types of sales trainings. Your organization will need to be sure that the sales training you are seeking will cover the overall outlook for the cloud industry. It will need to cover strategies on how to educate your customer into the rapidly growing cloud industry. This industry is going to quadruple in the next four years so it is critical that your sales reps are resident experts cloud computing and can convey this image and confidence through well thought out value content marketing strategies much like this article that you are reading. You will also have to consider other alternative training methods and the impact that will have on your reps’ sales cloud educational strategies. Your cloud sales team must be kept abreast of trends in the industry as well as which of your company’s products are at risk v. which are well positioned for growth and how to educate the customer so that the sale can be made.

I feel it’s important to emphasize that it is equally crucial that your cloud reps understand where you are going as a company. When I speak at sales functions, I am always shocked when I hear sales reps complain that they are unclear about where their cloud organization is headed. How can you have a successful sales team if they don’t know where the company is headed? Top Cloud computing companies know that their reps must be able to anticipate an expansion into new cloud markets, defending the #1 spot, or pushing hard to move from #2 to #1, is vital if your cloud sales force is going to work together toward achieving the growth the company is seeking.

Wait – there’s one more: Educating your cloud sales teams on your company’s cloud marketing and educational strategy to your customers is vital. Without this piece of the puzzle, your cloud sales guys will waste valuable time and could lose potential customers. Successful cloud companies know that their cloud sales force must know the positioning of the company if they are going to know what type of customers to pursue and how to educate them to get the sale. This has a direct impact on what they will say and how they will sell. There must be consistency between the sales message and your company’s marketing and educational messages.

How do you know if your salespeople are thinking strategically? When asked, can they provide the right answers to the topics mentioned above? I spoke to a top sales producer in the IBM SoftLayer division the other day and he could articulate five succinct points including their education strategy on why IBM was moving to a strong position in the cloud computing marketplace. Your cloud sales force needs to be able to do the same.

David Jackson, CEO of The Oxford Group, is available for speaking engagements in a variety of industries and topics that range from Sales, Growing Startups, Turnarounds, M & A, Executive Recruitment, Hiring, International Growth, Technology Growth, The Cloud, Telecommunications, Offshore Outsourcing, and Training. Contact us for booking information at, by phone at 214.360.4000, or schedule an appointment at

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