Rob Boylett of UK Telco says that resellers are often told that they should be using the current recession to their advantage, and that customers should be falling over themselves to sign up for new cost saving contracts.
“Often, they are told this by hopelessly optimistic marketeers who put a brave face on the economic gloom and doom right up to the point they get retrenched.
What’s needed is real, practical advice and substantial investment from distribution to help.
There really are ways to not just weather the financial storm, but treat it as a golden opportunity to become extremely successful. The big question is how?
Sorry to fall back on a cliché, but the only easy answer is old fashioned hard work. If you bury your head in the sand and complain about lack of work coming in, you will go out of business soon. If you’re taking the opportunity to up your game, expand your portfolio and pound the streets proactively selling, you will expand and grow, it’s as simple as that.
We’ve seen three successful tactics in our own reseller community. The first, and simplest, is to get back in contact with your existing customers. If you’re not selling more solutions into your current accounts, someone else is – and if you’re only providing lines and calls, you’ll lose them
to the competitor who’s providing mobile, hosting and IT services.
Of course this is tough, and not every reseller has the resources to be an expert account manager, but neither do they have to be. At UK Telco, for example, our customer service agents will call your clients for you on a monthly basis to offer old customers new deals which will save them money.
The second strategy is to adopt the role of a traditional cost consultant. You’re not just selling telecoms solutions anymore, you’re a vital part of process management and driving efficiencies, whether you like it or not. You’ll find most distributors falling over themselves to make sure the right sort of sales training is there – after all, the better versed in the language of business, as well as telecoms, you appear to your clients, the more business you’ll bring to us.
A full economic audit of a potential client may not be necessary, but you’d be surprised at how just a little bit of ROI helps. The end users who, six months ago, weren’t interested in saving £30 a month on calls and lines are suddenly interested in anything that can help shave costs.
We’ve seen several of our reseller partners adopting this attitude, and it’s opened the doors to larger accounts than they’ve been used to, right up to major PLCs who are suddenly aware they may not be getting the best deals possible from larger, less flexible providers.
Which leads us into the third strategy which we’ve encouraged our resellers to employ with a great deal of success. It is, arguably, the hardest, but potentially most rewarding. You need to aim higher up the food chain, and risky as it sounds, now is the time to do it – especially as the likes of BT flood the smaller end of the market with free Blackberrys for SMEs and the like.
Don’t be afraid – with the ubiquity of IP and unified comms, an integrated Enterprise solution looks less different to a reasonably costed SME system than it used to. You can leverage your skills in the one to sell the other, and you’ll find any good distribution partner more than capable of filling in gaps in your knowledge and experience to close a deal.
How do you get the attentions of CTOs and buyers on the next rung of the ladder, though? The best answer, we’ve found, is to arm yourself with one unique and compelling product that gets you a foot in the door. For UK Telco and our reseller community, this has been our exclusive SMS to email tool, MailMe, which automates campaigns to the extent that a simple shortcode text message can be used to order brochures by email. It’s a brilliant way of moving off-line traffic online, increasing response and driving down costs, while at the same time being enormously convenient for the end customer. It’s being used in TV campaigns by travel agencies like Thomas Cook, furniture companies, car sales teams and even one major satnav vendor – all clients that might seem out of reach to a smaller reseller, but who’ve been attracted in the first instance by a well crafted product which speaks directly to a young, net savvy audience in a variety of media.
These are a tough times, but just a little bit of creative thinking coupled with the right distributor level support really can turn them to your advantage – if you’re prepared to push yourself that little bit further, that is.”