Ask any sales person what they love most about their job (apart from the pay check, perhaps), they’ll tell you it’s the fact that they get to meet with a variety of people in different businesses on a daily basis. Each day brings a different learning experience.
The last 9 months have provided me a remarkable learning experience. When CoolHarbour wanted someone to lead its drive into the SMB market with Microsoft Office365 cloud and Skype for Business propositions, I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me by – despite my prior sales experience being limited to large enterprises.
So what did I learn? Too much to do justice in a single blog post but I’ll give it a shot. Some of what I learned didn’t surprise me, some of it I couldn’t argue with but some of it plain unacceptable in 2016!
Below are the top 6 objections I came across:
Our current supplier didn’t tell us it (the cloud) could do all this. (Or some other finger-pointing towards incumbent supplier). I expected this one to come up often. I totally get the dependence of SMBs on their ICT provider for innovation and best practice. But might it be a tad bit naïve to expect your supplier to do your thinking (and analysis) for you? After all, why would your incumbent IT service provider educate you about ways to spend less money with them or how simple it might be to manage a cloud solution yourself or furnish you with ammunition to break away from a juicy multi-year deal they have you locked into? The idiom of turkeys voting for Christmas comes to mind. I would leave them with 2 things to ponder over 1. what does it say about their incumbent supplier if it hasn’t already had the conversation around the benefits of moving to the cloud, and 2. what it says about a business that relies on others to do their critical analysis for them.
Our Managing Director doesn’t want employees to have access to systems outside the office environment. It’s scary how often this one cropped up. The cynic in me could see it fit the mind-set of a controlling, small business owner/manager who doesn’t want employees to hold all the cards. The naïve in me believed the altruistic MD doesn’t want employees to take their work home and be “online” all the time. But as I dug deeper this invariably turned out to be an issue of trust and security compounded by the spate of recent high profile horror stories of customer data breaches. SMB leaders have developed a genuine fear of their data falling into the wrong hands. My reassurance to SMBs here is that a) the majority of these data breaches have been down to bad process rather than technology per say, and b) security and privacy remain the number one priority for cloud vendors as well.
We already have a phone system, an audio conferencing system and an ISDN line. This one made me chuckle. Some would say the above with a sense of pride, as if it’s meant to be a good thing. I guess I’d be proud too, if it was 1998! Whilst the phone remains a key communication channel, other means of communicating have become more common with advances in communications infrastructure and devices. Yet SMBs continue to miss out on productivity gains by running disparate systems to manage these communications modes. By using a single, integrated communications platform, businesses can arm their workforce with rich history and context of all of their interactions, be they with fellow workers or with external parties.
We’ve always been doing it this way. OR It doesn’t fit with our company culture. I found this objection extremely difficult to accept. Having been a small business leader myself for several years, the last thing I’d ever do is keep things as they are. Especially when the world around me is changing at a frightening pace. Technology is driving a huge shift in customer and employee behaviour, so why wouldn’t your business continuously adapt? I’m a big fan of having the right culture or identity for a business, but how about weaving in some innovation and open mindedness into that culture? Cloud technology allows you to think differently, work differently and respond quickly to a changing business environment. SMBs cannot let the fear of getting things wrong or an old-fashioned mind-set hold them back.
We don’t have or need a customer call centre. Somehow the words “customer care” or “customer service” conjure up this image of a huge open-plan office, with lots of head-set donned, smiley faces. I suppose that holds true if you are a large company with a sizeable customer base. But customer service should be the responsibility of every person in your company and you don’t need a dedicated function for it either. Your customer doesn’t care who answers the call or what title that person carries. They care about having their issue resolved painlessly. SMBs have a huge advantage when it comes to customer service in that they have fewer customers but are generally a lot closer to their customers. By leveraging modern cloud customer service technology, they can equip every single employee with detailed information about their customers facilitating more meaningful interactions and stronger relationships.
We’ve done the numbers and it doesn’t make financial sense to move to the cloud. One can’t argue against the numbers, but one can certainly challenge the assumptions made whilst arriving at such numbers. Contrary to popular belief, SMBs tend to have have a much tighter handle on their finances, so it can be relatively easy to build a TCO model for moving to the cloud. As integrators our role is to provide objectivity by helping SMBs understand the hidden costs and benefits, both for maintaining an existing system in-house (such as upgrade cycles) AND for moving into the cloud (such as costs for re-training and change). It’s fair to say that the financial justification for the cloud and UC is not yet as compelling for a small business as various analyst reports might suggest.
There are other objections that I haven’t listed (perhaps one for Part 2). It should come as no surprise that the SMB sector is sitting on a goldmine of opportunity for modernising the workplace through the adoption of cloud productivity and UC technologies. But adoption is not going to take place at a furious pace whilst SMBs continue to be bombarded with conflicting information, and in many cases, misinformation, from the technology community as well as the press about the benefits and ease of adoption. As integrators and consultants it seems like we’ve got our work cut out to help SMBs separate the myths from the facts.
If you’ve got some insights or actual data to share around the move to Cloud technology, particularly for the SMB sector, then I’d love to hear from you. We’re always learning.
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