The Modern Demand Center: Nine Steps to Cloud Sales Transformation (Part II)

Humans don’t start out as runners. We begin by crawling, grasping at the ground beneath us for support as we slowly expand our physical capabilities. In year one of its Demand Center transformation, Microsoft was crawling. The sales and marketing team focused on transforming their sales approach for Microsoft Azure in the U.S. market and built a mini corporate Demand Center as a pilot program. After some trial and error, Microsoft began to walk at a steady pace.

In the next three steps of the nine-step process towards impactful Demand Center transformation, Microsoft continued to build a business (and a community) around Microsoft Azure. If you missed the first three steps, make sure to take a moment and learn how to begin your journey.

Sell the vision

As Microsoft began year two of its journey, the sales and marketing team realized the model they built was working and it needed to scale beyond corporate teams to their hundreds of field marketers. Together with the sales innovation lab at N3, Microsoft determined how best to sell this vision to their marketing team. Through hypothetical scenarios, Microsoft demonstrated to the field marketers how they could help educate a customer, lead them through the buying journey, spread product awareness, and create a demand for their sellers. By illustrating how, specifically, each role impacted the bottom line, Microsoft shifted their field marketers into a growth mindset.

Over function

With this new focus on demand creation, several new job functions emerged that didn’t previously exist at Microsoft. Many employees had to “over function” and cross into roles that weren’t originally part of their job description. In order to bring current and new employees up to speed, Microsoft developed a content strategy that included early stage, mid stage, late stage, and customer stage content pieces to explain the basics of the Cloud, why and how to use the Cloud, what Azure accomplishes, and deployment guides for buyers who follow through with a purchase of the trial. Microsoft also worked with the sales team to compile a measurement chart to define, operationally, what each stage means. This helped the marketers map leads back to buyers and move sales along efficiently.

Eventually, Microsoft re-organized its entire business around the Azure Demand Center and built the functions it needed. Departments including Corporate Marketing, Field Marketing, and Worldwide Inside Sales, supported by N3, all shifted to focus on the Demand Center. Through doing so, Microsoft mainstreamed its business and tripled the size of the Azure team.

Build a community

With any new venture, it’s important to rally the organization around it to foster a support system. In order to activate the field and build this enthusiasm, Microsoft initiated a program for “Azure Demand Center Champions”, individuals who would function as the point person for other employees. Originally, Microsoft asked for 13 champions, with the goal of having one in each geographic area. However, because they effectively sold the vision, they ended with more than 70 people who wanted to be included in building Microsoft’s future. They were trained on tools, technology, and campaigns.

Based on learnings from the trainings, Microsoft built an Azure Playbook, created live training programs and on-demand content, as well as established a Yammer group for others to share their successes and failures. By the end of year two, with these initiatives in place, Microsoft and N3 had built increasing support for the Demand Center and successfully built a community around it.

Stay tuned for part III of Microsoft’s sales transformation. Can’t wait to find out how the story ends? Check out Microsoft’s presentation on building a best-in-class Demand Center from Sirius Decisions. View Now


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About the Author

Marcel Florez

As N3 President, Marcel applies his deep experience in technology sales, marketing, and consulting, and extensive knowledge of the Cloud, to support demand and revenue generation for N3’s technology, software, and manufacturing customers. Connect on LinkedIn

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