Powerland, an IT infrastructure services provider and longtime HPE partner, began offering the vendor's as-a-service product, HPE GreenLake, about four years ago.
Since then, the Saskatchewan-based company captured one of the first HPE GreenLake deals in Canada -- a pact with Western Canada Lottery Corp. -- and now stands as the top HPE GreenLake seller in Canada. But Powerland, established more than three decades ago as a value-added reseller, had to rethink the way it conducts business to work effectively with HPE's consumption-based hardware and software portfolio.
"It's a big change," said Curtis Dery, executive vice president at Powerland, a Xerox Business Solutions company. "It's definitely not a traditional sale."
The transition affected everything from its engagement style with customers to how it compensates its employees. The benefits, however, include the ability to stay closer to customers, understand their needs and provide a comprehensive range of offerings.
How to sell HPE GreenLake: 3 takeaways
Dery shared his observations on selling HPE GreenLake and Powerland's as-a-service transition. Here's the rundown.
1. Understand the platform to convey its benefits
The "as a service" message can sometimes get muddled, as customers grapple with numerous options that defy simple comparisons. It's down to partners to become experts on HPE GreenLake and articulate how customers can benefit from its adoption. Powerland's early wins with the platform helped it uncover some key selling points.
Among those is the ability to "operationalize" customers' budgets, Dery noted. That is, HPE GreenLake lets customers transfer what would normally be a capital expenditure on physical hardware into the Opex budget. The budget transfer applies to third-party products as well as HPE's offerings. He said customers can include Microsoft 365, Check Point software and Cisco gear, for example, under the same HPE GreenLake contract -- paying for the hardware and software components on a monthly basis.
GreenLake's contracting approach lets organizations -- government agencies, for instance -- overcome the limits of traditional IT procurement.
"This helps them get into consumption as a service and begin to be able to operationalize IT," Dery said.
Consolidating multiple products under one roof also simplifies the request for proposal (RFP) process, since customers can manage one procurement instead of many, he noted.
Other customer benefits include flexibility: An organization can more readily pay for its IT needs as an operational expense rather than wait for its Capex budget to be replenished.
In addition, an HPE GreenLake contract -- managed under a service-level agreement -- includes infrastructure patches and updates. Dery said that approach reduces security risk and relieves customers of an onerous burden.
"Nobody is excited about patching infrastructure," he noted.
2. Anticipate engaging more deeply with customers
Powerland has found that selling HPE GreenLake has put the company in a position to work more closely with customers. The ability to put HPE products and third-party offerings under a single contract means a service provider spends less time responding to a customer's RFP and more time becoming a strategic partner.
In addition, the subscription model encourages ongoing contact with customers. With a Capex transaction, a conventional reseller hands the client the keys and checks back in three years when it's time to refresh their technology, Dery said.
"We meet with the customer on a monthly basis," Dery said. "We are more engaged in understanding the customers' businesses and their challenges."
Curtis DeryExecutive vice president, Powerland
Powerland offers advisory and assessment services around HPE GreenLake. Specifically, the company deploys software tools to understand the customer's computing and storage utilization rates and capacity requirements. This evaluation lets Powerland provide customers with accurate data for sizing their infrastructure, Dery said.
Closer engagement translates into better IT planning, helping customers avoid overprovisioning their IT infrastructure. But it also means broader planning. Powerland consults with clients on their SaaS and networking needs, as well as hardware and storage, pulling those technologies under the same HPE GreenLake contract.
3. Create a comprehensive go-to-market strategy
To develop an HPE GreenLake services business, Dery recommended partners plan ahead and build a strategy that covers the sales process, contracting and post-sales activities. Those go-to-market preparations must focus on the nuances of selling an offering as a service versus traditional product reselling. Channel companies that carried on with established ways of selling have struggled, Dery said.
"They were thinking it was just a normal sale, and it's not," he added.
The makeover to products as a service should also consider sales compensation. While a reseller would typically compensate salespeople based on revenue or gross profit, an as-a-service provider pays compensation on a residual of contract value, Dery said.
Partners should also be ready to work with a customer's legal team to redline an HPE GreenLake contract. Powerland created a contract template based on lessons learned over the course of previous engagements. The template eliminates some of the back-and-forth during negotiations, speeding up the contracting process.