Q: I have a customer with aging IT infrastructure, and it’s time-consuming for my technicians to keep their systems running properly. I know moving to the cloud will be a better option for their business and make things more manageable for my team. What are some methods for convincing my customer to transition their operations to the cloud?
It can be surprising to run into people who are still hesitant to move to the cloud, but some SMB owners avoid making cloud computing part of their business because they fear the unknown — how the cloud works, how it’s deployed, and how it’s secured. As an advisor to small businesses, though, you can educate them on the benefits of cloud computing and show them why it makes sense for their business.
Here are four talking points to help you convince your customer to move to the cloud:
Tip #1: Explain the risks of running a legacy system
When you sit down with your customer to discuss moving to the cloud, explain the risks associated with running outdated IT infrastructure, which likely includes an outdated operating system. Cybercriminals prey on businesses running outdated OS systems like Windows Server 2003 because they know how to easily gain access to the system now that Microsoft is no longer providing security patches for the OS. .
Additionally, you should let your customer know that running an outdated system can violate compliance regulations. This could be particularly damaging for a small business customer operating in the healthcare, financial, or legal services industries.
Tip #2: Outline the cost of hardware failure
Ask your customer to add up the total cost of their most recent hardware failure. If they haven’t experienced a hardware failure yet, you can show them how much this could potentially cost their business. Include the cost of your service for this type of issue, the cost of a new machine, and the expense of the downtime that would be cause by the equipment failure. You should think about creating a piece of collateral to leave behind with the customer that outlines these numbers and makes it easy for them to understand.
Then, explain how introducing cloud backup to their services offering would allow you to easily recover the necessary data from their most recent offsite backup the next time an equipment failure happens. Also, emphasize that in this case they would avoid having to pay the large cost you’d outlined.
Tip #3: Show the cost savings of moving to the cloud
One of the common reasons small businesses don’t move to the cloud is because they think it’s too expensive. Most cloud applications are subscription-based services, so it will be a manageable ongoing cost rather than a large up-front cost. Knowing that there will be a small set cost each month for the cloud application, the small business can forecast their spending more easily and budget appropriately.
Explain this difference to your customer and then review the applications you think they’ll need for their business. This will make it eaasier for the customer to see what the transition to the cloud would look like. You should also mention that moving to the cloud can also save their workforce time and increase their productivity, saving the business money in the long term.
When discussing the cost savings of the cloud, advise your customer to treat IT as a budgeted expense rather than paying for IT services as needed. This way, they will have a dedicated budget for maintaining their IT infrastructure, backing up their data to the cloud, and making use of cloud applications and software to make their business more productive.
Tip #4: Improve mobile workers productivity
Find out from your customer if any of their employees work remotely. Perhaps their sales person is constantly on the road or the business owner splits time between two office locations. Knowing these details will help you advocate for using the cloud to remotely access work files. With cloud applications, mobile workers will be able to access corporate information, projects they’re working on, or sales collateral while away from the office. This will help them to be more productive while they’re away from the office and save them the headache of having to print lengthy documents or constantly ask for materials via email.
Even if your customer doesn’t have remote employees, most of today’s workers rely on mobile devices to get a portion of their work done. If your customer moves to the cloud, you will be able to use a cloud solution that encrypts and safeguards the customers’ data while it’s stored offsite.
These four tips should help you to convince your customer to move to the cloud. First and foremost, listen to your customer’s objections and be prepared with an appropriate response that demonstrates how the cloud can better solve their business’ pain points.
Be sure to stress the fact that the transition can be gradual, such as starting off with smaller steps like Office 365 or cloud backup and then work up to larger initiatives once they’re more comfortable. Positioning the move to the cloud as an ongoing process will make it seem less intimidating to your customer.
Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.
Photo Credit: NEC Corporation of America on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.