The partner’s guide to handling customer server requests
How to approach the initial server sale to best meet your customer's needs.
It might be easy for partners to think the server sale is a simple one. However, the latest generation of servers offers superior performance, features and functionality. That’s why you need to gather a wealth of information from your customer to fully meet their needs.
Remember though, you are not selling hardware. You are selling compute capabilities. It’s about business solutions - what the server delivers. It’s essential to fully understand your customer’s business requirements before moving on to any technical specifications. Once you do that, you’ll discover a host of additional sales and services opportunities, making the initial server sale much more valuable to your bottom line and to your customer’s growth.
Here is a checklist of qualifying questions you should ask your customer during the initial consultation.
- Where is the server going to reside? Customers don’t always put their servers in the data centre, so it’s important to establish if it’s going to be deployed in a remote or back office. This determines whether they require a rack server or a tower server.
- What is the server being used for? There are various uses for servers that will dictate what sort of specification the customer will require. For example, something like a file and print server calls for only a basic specification, but if it’s going to be used for running a database, ERP project or SAP environment, it’s going to require a high-end server with a greater number of processing cores, memory and bandwidth.
- What is your customer’s budget? You must be able to match your customer's expectations with what they are willing to spend. Your customer might ask, “I have X amount to spend on a server, what I can get?” so having a frank discussion in these early stages is important.
- What technical specifications are required? For example, how many processors, and what speed, and how many cores? How much memory? How much internal storage? What are your networking and security requirements? These are all vital pieces of information you should gather in the initial discussion with the customer.
- Will the server be attached to anything? This is an opportunity to expand the conversation into areas like storage, where you might have the opportunity to sell an additional method of external storage to what’s inside the server.
- Can you sell them the operating system? Every server will have a software requirement; it could be Microsoft Windows, or it could be virtualised using VMware. The customer will need to purchase an operating system, so it makes sense to offer the software as part of the solution.
- Does the customer want to purchase an extended warranty? Stress the importance of this - particularly if the server is mission-critical.
- Do they require finance? All the server vendors offer a finance option, plus short-term demo models that can be included in purchasing deals. This is a compelling option for customers that want to buy a more complex or high-end solution, without the upfront capital investment.
- Does the customer have a preference for a specific vendor? If the server is going into an existing environment, they may want to stay aligned to that vendor.
- Do they need installation carried out in the data centre? Again, this is a services revenue opportunity on top of the initial server sale.
It is important to think about attachment sales and the potential services you can wraparound the sale – whether that’s software, security, or networking. Ultimately, you must focus on the customer’s overall business requirements and goals, and help them to find the right server for their needs.
- A server request isn’t that simple. It requires you to garner the right information from your customer regarding their requirements. These could vary from computing performance to operational costs.
- Define your customer’s budget. Before you take the conversation further, especially towards specification, you’ll need to know what servers your customers can afford for the business problem they’re trying to solve.
- Remember that your customers aren’t just after a server. They’re after a solution to their very real business business problems.