For many service providers selling cloud services, online sales are viewed as utopia. Online is seen as a low-touch, low-cost alternative to traditional offline channels and many business leaders want to drive as much volume through the online channel as possible.
SMBs also view online as a critical research tool when seeking more information about cloud services. The recently published Parallels SMB Cloud Insights™ show that SMBs view online as the number one channel for finding out more about cloud service offerings.
In theory this is a perfect match right? The reality is, research by a leading technology analyst firm shows less than 10% of service provider sales are made through the online channel even though almost 70% of customers stated online was their preferred research tool.
There is clearly a mismatch between customer behavior and actual sales volume. There are a number of drivers behind this but here are three key reasons why online is not achieving its sales potential:
- The “build it and they will come mentality” – IDC published a report in October 2013 that highlighted a lack of activity from service providers aimed at driving traffic to their application marketplaces. A number of service providers seemed to believe launching a marketplace alone was enough to drive significant sales volume.
- Sub-optimal conversion – a number of service provider sites are simply not geared up to maximize conversion from visits to sales. Many sites are cluttered, difficult to navigate and offer little advice to customers who may be looking to buy cloud services for the first time.
- SMB barriers to buying online – while SMBs are comfortable researching online, many stop short of making purchases. The key reasons for this are issues with security and discoverability as well as having unanswered questions that need addressing before purchase.
How do you convert the online opportunity into sales reality? Stay tuned for my next blog identifying key areas to address to really ramp up your online sales numbers.