NetAppVoice: How To Let Customers Trust You: Use These 2 Keys

Apr 28 2014, 3:18pm CDT | by

In transformative and disruptive markets like cloud computing, it’s critical that customers and partners trust you. Dan Timko, president and CTO of the cloud services provider Cirrity, explains how to build one of the most beneficial and valuable commodities in business.

He outlines the two key traits of trustworthy businesses: Master them both and you’ll have a huge head start on your competition…

With IT solutions, we often use words like rack, or tower, or blade. When it’s traditional to use concrete terms such as these, could there be a more nebulous-sounding alternative than “the cloud”?

Clouds are fluffy, dreamy masses of vapor floating across the sky; an image that hardly inspires confidence in a transformative technology. But that’s our business.

We’re a cloud services provider, focused solely on the IT channel—meaning we cater to consultants, value-added resellers (VARs), and managed service providers. In other words, we supply cloud services to partners that then resell those services to an end user—often as part of a larger IT solution,.

This may surprise you, but even in the channel, the cloud is still seen as a relatively new and disruptive technology. This means it’s easy for potential partners to view us as the competition, rather than as a collaborator, intent on adding value. We’re asking those partners to look beyond the expertise they’ve built through years of success.

So how do we overcome this initial hesitancy? Just like any type of disruptive or transformative business, if you’re trying to change people’s attitudes, success comes down to one simple word:

Trust.

But, as life’s ever-increasing complexity proves, simple is rarely easy. Trust is risky. Trust is fragile.

Countless books and articles have been penned on trust—and on how to cultivate it. But from our perspective, building trust in the cloud requires credibility and reliability.

Credibility
Credibility comes from offering the right solution (not the one that most benefits your bottom line or individual bonus)./>

So you have to be an advocate for the client. And you have to be honest with them about which solution will be most effective and efficient.

Consider this brief example: Flush with private-equity money, a healthcare firm was looking to shore up its disaster-recovery capability. Along with our channel partner—a large, traditional VAR—we suggested shifting it to the cloud.

The three other competing vendors offered a different pitch: “We’ll sell you some servers. We’ll sell you this licensing. We’ll sell you $150,000 worth of professional services to set it all up and get it working.”

They offered yesterday’s solution to today’s problem.

But the customer’s CIO was astute enough to know that those answers—tried and true for years—wouldn’t cut it anymore. Instead, our proposed solution spurred the realization that disaster recovery could be an automated, hands-off service, which would eliminate the time, risk and expense of deploying a bunch of new gear.

Our solution wasn’t the most profitable: It didn’t give our channel partner an opportunity to sell a lot of their traditional hardware and licensing. But it did win the contract, which increased our credibility.

With that credibility came trust. And with that trust came more long-term business.

Reliability
The second attribute equates to offering solutions that work./>

So as a cloud services provider, our infrastructure must deliver high performance and nonstop availability—without fail. This level of reliability is critical to our reputation and to the trust it engenders.

Even with today’s technology, this kind of dependability is a challenge. It involves continuously expanding our platform and auditing our services in order to always be secure, resilient and available.

And customers don’t just expect solutions to work reliably—they expect them to work reliably now. Who wants to sign up for a cloud service to learn it’ll take months to be production-ready?

Reliability requires making a strong commitment—financially and organizationally—to delivering on all of our promises. But the alternative is unthinkable.

If we can’t consistently provide that type of reliability, then our channel partners won’t trust us. Which means they’ll either abandon trying to resell the cloud, or find a different provider.

The Bottom Line
Creating mutually beneficial, long-term partnerships requires dedication and follow-through. That’s especially true when you’re trying to build a new brand, or sell a transformative product./>

But if you can bring credibility and reliability to every task, every meeting, and every relationship, you can begin developing one of the most beneficial and valuable commodities in all of business—trust.


Dan Timko is Cirrity’s President and Chief Technology Officer. Dan brings more than 15 years of information technology and information security industry experience. He received both his B.S. in Computer Science and Masters in Information Security from The Georgia Institute of Technology. Dan is a member of the Cloud Security Alliance, Information Systems Security Association, and InfraGard./>
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