Think business not telecoms

Think business not telecoms

Chris Harris, Managing Director, Zeacom
Chris Harris, Managing Director, Zeacom

Chris Harris, Managing Director at contact centre vendor Zeacom says, “There are 40 books available to buy on Amazon that each has something to do with how to achieve sales success by projecting the correct body language. Save yourself a tenner: don’t yawn in their face, or act like a weirdo. We all know it takes more than how you sit, or what you do with your hands.”

I’ve never believed in bottles of snake oil when it comes to salesmanship, and this is especially the case in the realm of contact centre solutions where today resellers must be right on top of their game.

Here it seems more than anywhere else in communications, solution complexity has jaded decision makers. The competitive vendor landscape has become awash with new technology features, and resellers are increasingly driven to sell on functionality. While they are clearly vital differentiators for successful bidding, any year-one student in sales will tell you that ‘features and functions’ are not where the value is at. Organisations increasingly view their contact centre investments as strategic to the needs of the business, not only fulfilling important processes and services, but – in this increasingly web and social media driven culture – actively projecting the brand among any customers or prospects that choose to engage them.

Don’t sell features, sell benefits. You could be talking about croissants or cinema tickets, let alone contact centres, and that mantra would ring true. Yet still, as an industry, the strategic benefits to the overall business of a highly

capable contact centre operation are rarely explored to the degree that they should be. It should be a case of ‘think business, not telecoms.’ Resellers have to be helping contact centres appreciate the business advantages of the technology and stop talking about the technology itself. They are plenty of business pain points to focus upon, and for which a better optimised contact centre can be deployed to combat. Ultimately, these customers will go elsewhere if their interests aren’t looked after.

New business can be tough to find, but don’t overlook the goldmine you might already be sitting on. Research consistently proves that it is many times quicker, cheaper and easier to sell £1 of solutions to existing customers than to convert £1 of new business. So what is your proposition to them? What value can you actually provide?

Again, these conversations are best started along business lines rather than by banging on about complex technologies. Financial pressures will always be a factor that prevents a customer who invested in their systems just a few years ago from ripping out and replacing to the latest fully-featured solution. It’s understandable, but not enough of a reason to not bother. The approach therefore is to adopt evolutionary rather than revolutionary strategies. They’ll rarely want ‘big bang’. They want to know how simple changes can deliver measureable ROI.

Taking it one stage further, we have been busy developing materials to help give partners the confidence to do exactly that. Certainly I’ve seen the resulting success first hand when resellers are explicit about how, for a relatively modest investment, overlay software technology such as ours can make a quantifiable difference to their customers’ business objectives.

Simplifying the complex is what any senior management decision maker will appreciate. As contact centres become ever more strategic, and end-customers ever more discerning about how quickly and effectively the contact centre deals with their needs, organisations will increasingly ‘switch off ’ when out-and-out telecoms talk is in the room. This makes positioning incremental improvements to existing investments a useful mechanism for substantiating a business conversation. No one wants more technology. They want technology working smarter, more tightly integrated with each other and with business processes.

These conversations won’t always be immediately successful, yet keeping close to existing customers and having these constructive conversations about maximising current investments will galvanise your value as a business consultant, and put you in the pound seats for when their next project does come to light.

Much of this is common sense of course, but it’s just as well to remind ourselves of the importance of building and nurturing business relationships. It always pays to listen to good advice; no one should need a self-help book to tell them that.

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