A frequent question that I get when speaking to clients about DaaS revolves around managing DaaS with a channel sales model. Shortly stated, “How do you sell DaaS?” DaaS – the Device-as-a-Service business transformation model I’ve been writing about - is ultimately about selling a solution, whether direct (B2C) or through a channel (Business to Business). Selling involves configuring a combination of devices, services, and software which delivers more value as a system than as separate components – the DaaS promise. Channel challenges occur in both considering the complexity of the product, and how revenue flows, and how to avoid the dreaded channel conflicts.

Let’s look at the first challenge. A solutions or “consultative sell” can get complex quickly in DaaS due to the need for guiding a customer through not only hardware and options, but also software and options, and then services. For organizations where most sales have been through channels experienced with transactions – a device, a software license, a service event – moving them into an model where everything is configured makes the it complex for the sales team to understand what to sell and difficult to understand goals and incentives. In computer hardware, I remember the days when channels moved from selling a desktop (remember those), to selling configured desktops with a myriad of options – configuring price and quote could suddenly stretch out over weeks for feasibility checks. This same configure-price-quote loop, with feasibility can get quite long with DaaS. Not a great recipe for growth. These are key complexity issues which keeps channel sales from being scalable.

A common-sense response which we often use is to group options naturally in specific offers, based on market models, and delivery capability. This orients towards price and function “experience” stages rather than thinking about hundreds of elements to bring together. I call this breaking it all down to a ‘tee-shirt’ size in DaaS. A standard solution with basic pricing was in an offer – “Xtra Small” say – and then a few more sizes of increasing complexity – “Small”, “Medium”, “Large”. The stages or ‘sizing’ also considered delivery infrastructure, looking at combinations of elements that were immediately feasible so that there would be no delay in confirming a proposal or quote. This sell motion simple and highly repeatable, and easy to train and incentivize. This makes DaaS in a channel work no differently than any other product, with one or two tweaks I’ll touch on in later blogs.

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Green and Go logo

Caption: Green and Go is a fictional solar power company to exhibits the products and services in a Device-as-a-Service model.

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A story of managing complexity

“Green and Go” is a solar power company, which builds hardware and software, and has services to install, run and manage power. What they offer for our example follows below – but an ordinary Solar Company might have hundreds of brands and variants on hardware and software, and I touch on only a handful of service options.

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Hardware

  • Thermostats (3 variants)
  • Solar Array 5kW (10-15 variants)
  • Solar Array 10kW (10-15 variants
  • 13.5kWh Battery (2-3 variants)
  • 25kwH Battery (2-3 variants)

Software

  • Home Optimizing
  • Grid Optimizing (grid buy/sell sensing, per distribution network)
  • Power-Fail Automation (grid separation, and reconnect authorization, per distribution network)

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Services

  • Monitor & Maintain
  • Service & Repair 10kW electricity (3-5 renewable resources)
  • Road EV Charging (optimal cost / home grid buy/sell)

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    Caption: Solar companies are excellent examples of the combination of hardware, software and services that to install, run and manage power.

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    But even as small as it is, there are tens of thousands of possible different combinations of equipment, which is a lot to navigate. The reality of hardware with hundreds of configurations, thousands of software “apps”, and hundreds of services is why even this DaaS model could be quite hard to try to sell, especially through a channel. Keeping it simple keeps it scalable, and in reality, easily sellable.

    Green and Go creates these four groupings for their channel sales, simplifying the mix of hardware, software, and services:

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    Go Green option

    Smart Thermostat, 10kWh electricity from renewable sources, home optimizing software, monitor & maintain

    Go Greener option

    Green, plus 5kW Solar Array primary, grid cost-optimizing software

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    Go Greenest option

    Greener, plus 5kW Solar Array, 13.5kWh Battery, power-fail home automation

    Go Green Nirvana option

    Greenest, plus Optimized EV Car Charging on the road connected to reverse-Grid feed

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    The end-customer now is focused on Green power options, knows the options and software all work together, and the services make it all work better over time. The channel sales team doesn’t have to think about how it all ‘plugs together’ for sales. Green and Go can position these options now in a variety of channels: home builders, developers, power companies, even retail big-box DIY, or mom-and-pop solar shops.

    Getting to the right fit

    So, a few takeaways I want to leave you with are, as you consider selling DaaS solutions, particularly with channels:

    • Look at the overall DaaS experience options and start with subsets which are most market relevant – often ‘sized’.
    • The delivery capability should be well-understood to minimize channel price and quote time.
    • The resulting groups should be easy to train for channel sales, and highly repeatable to scale.

    In my next blog, I’ll look at the actual sell models that DaaS needs for channel sales with more examples from Green and Go.

    Joseph Francis

    Managing Director – Digital Supply Chain Transformation

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