Let’s say you fall in love with HubStor as the choice for modern backup and archive in the cloud.
Like most IT pros, your next step is to embark on the mystical journey of navigating your internal decision-making and approval process.
In the spirit of helping you boost your chances of success, some recommendations based on lessons learned working with prospects and customers follow.
Lesson 1: Understand the implications of the status quo prevailing
It is human nature to avoid change.
And if getting any IT purchase decision done at your company is an arduous process, you are not alone.
The benefits of adding a new solution, or replacing an old one, MUST be worth the effort and uncertainty of bringing in a new approach, especially from a new vendor.
When IT pros are considering HubStor, it is often to:
- Simplify IT operations by way of shifting workloads, infrastructure, or processes to a fully-managed Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) experience.
- Achieve peace of mind by way of securing workloads so that data is better protected, is more readily recoverable, and meets compliance and legal requirements.
However, your ultimate decision makers might view a simplification of IT systems and processes as a nice to have.
And going back to our earlier point, they may think the data has enough protection already, or that lack of compliance hasn’t bitten previously so its solution can be deferred further.
Don’t assume the business case you see as obvious will be understood by others. Instead, be ready to articulate the business impact of no decision from the perspective of your audience.
It is easier said than done.
You have to see things from their perspective, and you must understand their motivations and objectives.
For example, sticking with the status quo can mean your organization will incur downstream costs that HubStor will help you mitigate or avoid all together, and this capital could be applied to ___________.
Or, allowing data to be without reliable backup or proper compliance safeguards can ultimately result in brand damage (resulting from fines, legal claims, and upset customers).
Experienced IT leaders know that letting basic data protection and data management languish will indeed have profound business impact later on. A seasoned IT professional must be skilled at articulating the business value of important technology decisions, and the costs and risks of sticking with business as usual.
Lesson 2: Understand the prevailing views held by final decision makers
We’ve seen it before: You have done all of your homework. Dotted your I’s and crossed your T’s.
Now it is time to get final sign off.
But you learn the hard way that a final decision maker has opinions that prevent things from happening, and there’s little you can do to change their thinking.
For example, a senior executive or partner tells you, “there’s no way we could store our data in the cloud because that just isn’t secure”, despite the organization already having SaaS subscriptions to things like Office 365, Salesforce, Workday and others.
So, yes. We still occasionally see IT professionals’ efforts stifled at the last steps of the decision process because a decision maker has strong negative positions on the cloud.
Don’t assume that your organization is ready to use the cloud for backup and archive. Instead, we recommend IT professionals spend more time early in the process to socialize the idea of leveraging the cloud for backup and archive with key internal stakeholders and decision makers. Make sure that the general concept is acceptable before investing yourself in the technology and vendor evaluation process.
Lesson 3: Bring a guide to help with the tough questions
Bring a guide to help with the heavy lifting because you may have one opportunity to convince decision makers of your vendor selection.
If you can, find a way to have your decision maker(s) speak directly with us.
They are going to have questions of which the answers are very important to them, but their question are likely to focus on things you can’t reasonably answer.
These can be tough questions about the model, pricing, security, our corporate strategy, and vendor viability.
In our experience, IT professionals that find a way to introduce us to their decision maker(s) have an approximate 85% more likelihood of getting a positive outcome. (That number is pulled from our sales data).
The reason for that: Simple human factors. Trust is a huge element when choosing a cloud data management vendor. Having your decision maker(s) speak directly with HubStor’s CEO, CTO, and/or CISO is an important trust-building step.
We understand that it isn’t always possible to make this interaction happen – that some decision makers have no interest to speak with a technology vendor. If you find yourself in this position, then the next several lessons learned are your contingency.
Lesson 4: Can you articulate HubStor’s subscription model?
Yes, it’s a subscription. But subscription models can be complex if a vendor tries to introduce protectionist lock ins.
For instance, the term of the subscription could be defined as a minimum of year commitment. Some are as high as three years commitment, and further fine print could have you paying annually upfront, and arbitrarily paying a good portion of the term in an early cancellation scenario.
At HubStor, we have no such things in our model.
Here are the key advantages you need to communicate about the model:
- No term commitments – you can sign up and pay monthly (we invoice in arrears).
- Cancel any time – for any reason, or no reason.
- Simple experience – your subscription includes set up, onboarding, and standard tech support.
- Prepay for a discount at your convenience – you can get better pricing by opting for a prepay arrangement. We present the option but, unlike other vendors, there is never any pressure to exercise prepays with HubStor. And unlike other vendors, if you prepay and decide to cancel early, we contractually commit to refund any unused balance of credits.
Lesson 5: Can you present pricing in a compelling way?
HubStor offers a direct passthrough of the underlying cloud consumption cost model, giving customers transparency into a pay-only-for-what-you-use pricing model.
In other words, HubStor pricing is set as a volume-discounted markup percentage on the cloud costs.
Here’s what you need to understand about this model in terms of pros and cons:
- No user licensing, or other types of arbitrary software licensing – Subscription to HubStor gives you full access to the capabilities of the platform. We do not care how many users access the system, or how many accounts or hosts you backup.
- Consumption-based pricing means month-to-month variability – Cloud resources are billed hourly, so even a static environment will see minor variability month to month due to the varying number of days in each month. Beyond that, storage operations, egress activity, storage tiering, data storage growth, and scaling up/down compute resources are the other factors of variability. You might view this as a negative since it means pricing is not exact. However, you probably should view it as a positive because any moves to reduce the underlying cloud costs are immediately realized, including a dynamic reduction in HubStor markup amounts. For example, if we size down compute, tier data to lower-cost storage, apply Reserved Instance or Azure Storage Reserved Capacity pricing, or you delete junk data, the variability of the consumption price model becomes your friend.
- Economies of scale in a single-tenant model – As a single-tenant architecture, you’ll have a baseline compute cost for HubStor. Then, data storage is a small incremental as you grow. A common mistake is to combine compute and storage amounts and extrapolate this as a storage cost for additional data storage. In other words, blending compute and storage for a small data set yields what appears to be a high storage cost, but leveraging the compute for more and more storage will actually achieve economies of scale on the compute cost, appearing to reduce your blended storage costs the bigger you get. For example, a small tenant might have all-in storage economics of $0.06/GB/month, but increasing stored data will work to reduce this (to as low as $0.0016/GB/month at large scales with tiering).
- Determine the best way to present the figures – The cloud pricing model can be complex, but don’t let all of this scare you. We can model the cost factors into an accurate price estimate, offering monthly all-in costings out to 60 months. And we show annual totals with prepay options at discount rates. But sometimes it can help to present these numbers in a different light. For example, we were speaking with a prospect that needs Office 365 backup for 600,000 users. Competitive offerings are priced at $4/user/month with a minimum 12-month term. At MSRP, that’s a whopping $28.8 million annually. Even with a 75% discount, competitors are coming in at $600,000 monthly, or $7.2 million per annum. For this prospect’s scenario, dividing HubStor’s annual all-in cost by the number of users works out to be $0.03/user/month. In some scenarios, in addition to viewing HubStor’s consumption pricing as a monthly or annual figure, it helps to look at it as a percentage of what primary storage or licensing is costing, or as a cost per user.
Lesson 6: Can you discuss security aspects confidently?
Security is a big and serious topic when you are talking about backup and the storage of sensitive data sets.
Before requesting final decision approval, have you thoroughly vetted the security fundamentals of HubStor?
We aren’t going to dive deep on the topic here, but you should know that HubStor can provide a detailed technical security whitepaper and our CISO is happy to get on calls to discuss any questions you might have.
Additionally, HubStor maintains SOC 2 Type II compliance and has a reputable third party perform annual penetration testing on the software. Both the SOC 2 and pen test report can be provided to you on an annual basis.
Lesson 7: Are you ready to address vendor viability questions?
Questions your decision maker is likely to ask include: “Who is HubStor?”, “How come I haven’t heard of them before?”, “How do we know they will be around several years from now?”
These are all good questions you should be asking.
Trust is key, and establishing trust is done through open dialogue based on the facts.
HubStor’s CEO is happy to speak to your decision maker(s) about the financial stability of HubStor, and answer any questions they have about the business.
Sales does not have to be a point of frustration, for the IT buyer or the vendor.
IT pros can view it a necessary evil to engage “sales people” when they need to evaluate a vendor’s offering, expecting they are opening the door to weeks or months of annoying “follow-ups.”
And on the vendor’s side, sales pros can feel like they are taking crazy pills when a prospective buyer expresses need but later goes silent.
The bottom line: We view our customers as partners, and as a result of that we like to engage prospective clients in a very real and open manner.
At HubStor, we try to transcend this classic dynamic that typifies enterprise technology sales. We do this by:
- Spending time upfront to really understand your goals, pains, and challenges.
- Being upfront if we do not think our solution is the right fit for you (no square peg, round hole).
- Being honest and transparent about our capabilities, gaps, and limitations.
- Sharing a price estimate early on so that we can determine if the economics are a good fit.
Getting an honest sales approach from a vendor is half the battle, and we do our best to streamline this for you.
The other half: You must also sell your ideas and vendor selections internally at your organization.
Hopefully this post can increase your chances of success.