Ten things VARs must do to prepare for SaaS

You're sold on making the switch to SaaS. But where to begin? These 10 steps will get you off on the right foot.

In this series

1. Know your partners. Stephanie Atkinson, principal analyst at Compass Intelligence says, "VARs should work with their existing partner to better understand their partners' existing SaaS strategies. Understanding the product offerings being released, who they are targeted to, and their pricing models will prepare VARs on their own internal marketing and sales strategies."

2. Focus on the value-add. SaaS delivers an advantage of "mass customization," which means that while every customer uses the same code base, they don't all necessarily have the same features or interface.

3. Think volume. There will still be customization and integration needs, just fewer of them. While the VAR will naturally maximize those value-adds, they must also start thinking in terms of volume. More is better.

4. Think solutions, not products. Margin on a SaaS offering may be smaller, but when you offer that in conjunction with a range of other services, you become very valuable to your customer.

5. More business, less technical. Successful VARs will make themselves valuable to their customers by specializing in business processes, rather than technical details that will now be handled on the back end by the SaaS vendor.

6. Keep your dinosaurs around. Those guys on staff that still understand legacy systems will be essential. Customers using SaaS will need to integrate those hosted services with their in-house legacy systems.

7. Look for the right channel program. The best channel programs for SaaS will have a limited number of partners, and will offer resellers a wide variety of options in how to sell and what to offer.

8. Don't go it alone. Talk to vendors that are in the SaaS business. Veteran companies that have been in SaaS for years will have institutional knowledge you can leverage to help you transition into this business.

9. Get out of the line-item mindset. Trying to sell as many items as possible will put you at odds with the customer's bean-counters, who are facing dwindling capital-expenditures budgets.

10. Become recession-proof. SaaS is a long-term proposition—building up a large base of compounding, recurring revenues gives you the ability to withstand the ups and downs that typically impact traditional resellers.

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