While not all businesses are yet able to make the move to the cloud, because of legal, privacy, and security reasons, acceptance of this transformation across the business landscape has been rapid.
“From the larger organizations, specifically in the finance vertical, there is still a lot of pushback, however more and more, customers are accepting the cloud as the new normal. For a lot of people, it just makes sense to skip talking about on-prem and about all the hardware and all the funny stuff that they’d have to take care of, and just take the software as a subscription.”
Dubbink says that when having renewal conversations, 80-90 percent of his customers are open to moving to the cloud. With new customers, he says 99 percent see the cloud as the way forward.
Customer research leads to better insight
Since its founding, CRM Partners have had customers in the agriculture industry. The vertical is now the basis of its international growth, however it wasn’t always clear to CRM Partners’ leadership that they were in the farming business.
“We started working with a number of customers and then we [conducted] an exercise to [better understand] our customers. We knew that we had customers in finance and insurance and we knew that we had membership organizations, but when we started analyzing the rest of our customers it turned out that 25% of all of [them] were doing business with farmers,” said Dubbink.
As the CRM Partners team researched its customers, a reoccurring pattern emerged: one customer, an equipment manufacturer, built sprayers used on farms. It turned out that these sprayers were used to apply crop chemicals like fertilizers and pesticides. They found that another customer makes the agricultural chemicals that were applied with those sprayers. On further examination, it turned out that about 25 percent of CRM Partners’ customers were in one way or another in the agriculture business: “It was a community of businesses that spoke with one another, that did business with one another,” Dubbink recalled.
Once they understood how intertwined these customers were, the team looked into how these equipment manufacturers, greenhouse operators, and growers did business. They realized that businesses within this vertical had similar CRM needs. With this realization CRM Partners pivoted and created customized IP providing agriculture-specific resource management tools to manage dealers and customers, track stock development and farmers’ needs, and more. Soon, CRM Partners began marketing directly to customers in this vertical.
The benefit of MPN
MPN has provided CRM Partners with valuable networking support, training resources, and access to partners in other countries. When working with the MPN, Dubbink offers some advice: “It’s not about asking a lot from the network, but about what you can give back.” Above all, he recommends taking a thought leadership approach and being committed to “going all in.”
“You have to go all in to the program. See what you can get out of it. Do the work, get the certifications, and start to engage [with MPN] personally on both the local and international level. We actively network with people in MPN, the CSP program, and the Dynamics group.” Dubbink prefers to take a proactive approach and focus on giving to the network rather than asking a lot. “You get out of MPN what you put into it.”
“[You] can’t wait for Microsoft to give leads—partners need to connect on their own.” Dubbink advises partners to get involved with MPN activities, programs, and to make contacts within the network.