As SD-WAN moves from buzzword, to hot topic, to a household term, partners continue to look for ways to best sell SD-WAN, and communicate its benefits to their customers. eXemplify’s Robert Hayes sat down with Granite Communications’ VP of Relationship Development Mark Palmer to discuss the ways in which partners can approach the SD-WAN conversation.
Hayes: How should partners approach potential customers who are interested in SD-WAN?
Palmer: With lots of questions. There are many reasons for people to look into SD-WAN. The most common one is that people want to get off of traditional private networks and utilize low cost, high availability access to reduce costs. However, others are looking to simply add bandwidth or resiliency to existing WAN deployments. Ask why they are looking. Ask if their current WAN supports their current business needs. Have they moved applications to the cloud, and has that affected their bandwidth requirements? Will their current WAN support their future needs?
These questions can be asked by anyone (and there are a lot more). Typically, answers to one question will lead to the follow-ups. If you feel strong in your knowledge, run them all. If you’re not, generate the interest with a couple of leading questions, and schedule a discussion with someone more familiar with what’s available. The customer’s WAN is the lifeline to their locations, and you need a high level of confidence from a customer to get them to trust you with it. Do not try to fake the knowledge. Admitting that you don’t know everything about it, but you want to bring in an SME, will help build their confidence in you.
Hayes: How should partners approach selling MPLS in addition to SD-WAN?
Palmer: Carefully. The questions that you ask will help lead you on the right path. Some people will default to MPLS, and you might get a win by going along, but if someone else comes and challenges their thinking with questions as simple as “why do you need MPLS?” or “what applications need to run on a private network?” you will have ceded the right to be a WAN partner to another vendor.
If people are sold on wanting MPLS, but are moving some applications to the cloud, there could be a good MPLS solution inclusive of SD-WAN.
Hayes: How should partners identify potential SD-WAN sales or potential customers who might need SD-WAN?
Palmer: There are many potential SD-WAN opportunities out there. According to a recent poll, only about 10% of companies have deployed SD-WAN. This means that we’re past the ‘early adopters’ phase of technology adoption and are embarking on the majority phases. The same poll had 49% of respondents saying that they are planning, or are interested in SD-WAN. This is an indicator that using SD-WAN as a leading question can generate interest. If people are interested in talking about it, and what it can do for them, bring in an SME that can help build a good design, as well as a business case.
Hayes: How can partners pick the right SD-WAN vendor?
Palmer: Trust a vendor with a great track record of managing multi-location businesses and rolling out access and projects for large scale customers. As SD-WAN is something that is new to the market, past performance in getting services installed and routers turned up without significant time and effort from the end users will be the best predictor of who will be successful in getting this done.
To get access to Granite SD-WAN solutions and learn more about joining their partner program, contact eXemplify today.