Reality Not Matching Best Intentions

Steve Gleave, VP of Marketing at Metaswitch Networks says that many service providers he talks to would prefer their sales teams to sell hosted PBXs, rather than premises PBXs, in those situations where hosted is the best customer fit.

“However, the reality on the street doesn’t always marry up with best intentions. The fact is that market adoption for hosted business services can easily being beset by sales strategies, pricing models and marketing pitches that don’t make sense when compared next to premises-based solutions.

Integrating hosted and IP PBX into your portfolio means delivering upon the high-growth forecasts of this product. Pure play/specialist providers find it easier to sell, but then they don’t have a highly successful legacy of selling and supporting on-premise solutions as well.

Your sales team may be too institutionalised, rather than feeling empowered to position and deftly pivot from one product or the other based on customer need. You may find that your existing sales teams are set in their ways with premises PBXs’ familiar features, benefits, and pricing; there is a much stronger organisational structure built to sell and support in-house PBXs than for hosted services; individual salespeople have deep, field-level relationships with PBX vendors, many which provide sales incentives; and suspicion toward hosted PBX means it may be routinely positioned as a competing and inferior product.

If so, consider the following to accelerate the sales of hosted business services:

Follow the Profit – typically more profit can be derived from selling hosted vs. reselling PBXs, based on the future upsell of more services on this IP platform. On this basis, it should follow that superior sales commissions are paid.

Invest in Champions – place a few dedicated Sales Engineers who believe in, and can sell the hosted product. These champions shore up an otherwise untrained and potentially sceptical direct sales force. Over time, customers will be won and credibility earned as you grow that across the entire sales organisation.

Reflect Competitive Offerings – design a simple, highly competitive offer for hosted PBX and present both options to customers. Ensure that you present both until your team is competent enough to recognise which solution is better for the customer in question.

Push Indirect Channels – we often find that indirect channels can excel on hosted PBX sales when that product is newly introduced. While it takes time for the direct channel to become believers, the indirect channels can rapidly become avid and well compensated advocates.

Leadership – there must be sufficient downward pressure and motivation to sell this product. Drive behaviour through compensation (e.g. double commission on hosted PBX sales vs. premises PBX), and recognise sales people who top sales of hosted PBX.

Train, Train, Train – host weekly sales meetings and other forums to share success stories, create objection rebuttals, and answer product questions after initial product training is completed.

Certainly there is still a place for premises PBXs in your portfolio; in numerous large enterprises scenarios for example. However, you must create a culture where the sales of Hosted PBXs can thrive as well.”

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