Hostnet: more sales thanks to switching from product sales to partnership

Hosting provider Hostnet approached Force21 2 years ago because sales in the small business segment were declining. To achieve growth again, both parties jointly analyzed the target groups and the sales proposition.

After Hostnet merged with the Danish group in March 2020, the desire to focus on one specific target group and accelerate sales gained momentum. After some strategic sessions, they choose to focus specifically on the target group of web developers and digital agencies, with a unique partner program. The result? An upward trend in (repeat) sales.

Reversing declining trends: are we targeting the right audience?

Hostnet initially focused on two target groups: Enterprise and the lower segment of SMEs. The priority was to determine whether these were the right target groups. We discussed offerings, pricing structure, sales approach, and other strategic choices in some strategy sessions. The goal of the sessions was to arrive at a clear focus in the target group and a sales proposition.

CEO Rene Oldenbeuving remembers from these strategy sessions that Force21 was not satisfied with the first answer given by the participants: “They keep on asking questions, hold up a mirror to people and point out inconsistencies in answers or input. In doing so, they forced us as a group to make one choice. ”

As a result of the sessions, Hostnet chooses to focus on IT companies, web developers and digital agencies. Through these types of companies, they also indirectly serve their customers. A win-win: the agencies can offer their clients a good product, and Hostnet has a larger reach. A partner program is being set up to provide the web developers with the best possible support.

Unique partnership for the target group

IT-related companies for whom hosting is not a core business are relieved of the burden by the partner program. In addition to providing their clients with a good hosting product, Hostnet’s technical experts also provide technical support. Their administrative work is simplified by the control panel, which gives them insight into (sales too) their clients and their margins. Adding or removing products is easy to arrange in this control panel. The company can offer the hosting under its own name (white label) and thus sell it as its ‘own product.

Such a partner program is unique for a hosting provider. And Hostnet will continue developing the program to stay relevant.

Hostnet Steps

Sales training: trained to do it yourself

Hostnet stelt ambitieuze doelstellingen,

In addition to this sales proposition, Force21 actively trains the sales department. Every week, we hold one-on-one sessions with the account managers during which we jointly evaluate the selection of clients to approach and the customer interviews. Also, every two weeks, we discuss the progress of the sales with the entire sales team.

Nedlloyd Vo, Hostnet’s partner manager, says that he has benefited greatly from Force21’s experience and coaching: “They asked critical questions about how I could help a client grow even further. In the one-on-one sessions, we discussed the plan of action, the structure of the conversation and where the opportunities lay. Even with my 20 years of sales experience, it was still beneficial to spar about this. Especially because Thijs and Tjarko have a lot of knowledge of the hosting market, that gives them a different perspective on sales and where the specific opportunities lie in our market, all in all, the relationships with clients have improved. We are attracting more new business.

Ambitious targets

The aim is to grow further with the chosen sales strategy ultimately. Kevin Stam, Manager Customer Service at Hostnet, talks about the follow-up: “We’d already set quite ambitious targets for the past few months, and next six months they’ll be even more ambitious, but up to now we’re still on target. You can see that the business is developing because we have more focus, and the one-on-one meetings have also stirred things up. For the time being, we are maintaining the coaching sessions because the outside view – but with knowledge of our industry – is precious.

The added value of a go to market partner

CEO Rene explains that the chosen strategy has led to the realignment of teams. There is now a dedicated team within the sales department with Nedlloyd as partner manager, especially for the partner program. By no longer serving the Enterprise market, the total sales team could shrink. In practice, that means with fewer people (and therefore costs), more growth.

The result is a joint effort, but when asked whether this could be achieved without Force21, he says: “We could ultimately have done this ourselves, but it would not have been as fast, as well supported and with less enthusiasm from the team. For me, quality = acceptance x content. Someone can be good at his job, but he must also be able to communicate it. Force21 is capable of doing that. They can pass on their knowledge and experience to those who will have to work with it and make them enthusiastic.

Want to know if Hostnet’s partner program is interesting for you and your customers? On Hostnet’s website, you can find more information about the program or contact us directly to discuss the possibilities.