Today, I discussed the ANPI five essential keys to successfully sell hosted Unified Communications (UC) with a number of Cloud Partner attendees. While these are my five, you may have a different five or the desire to add or replace one or more. How we approach selling is very individualistic and it is always challenging to develop a list that satisfies everyone. However, the following five items use both past experiences and a changing landscape for sales. While some believe consultative selling is dead because of the how much information is available online, I do not. GMs, owners and most decision makers who research the web tend to skim information rather than take the time to study and internalize the content. Therefore, a good agent can provide additional depth and clarity to information gleaned from the web. However, the agent requires a better understanding of the product and competitive landscape than in prior years. Let’s begin.
- Select the correct Solution and Service Provider – Agents should not expect that all hosted UC products are the same. Even though many use commonly recognized platforms even the most popular requires application additions to meet varying business needs. Moreover, selecting the best service provider also means evaluating their management team, business processes, support philosophy and commitment, financial means and resources to support you and your customer.
- Drink the Kool-Aid – A good service provider should offer the hosted UC solution to the agent for free for a period of time or at a minimum excellent discount. This should be done not to make money but to enable the agent to use the applications and with a hands on approach develop a positive opinion of the solution. Using the product not only improves familiarity but eventually leads to new ways to use the product to effect business and new insights as to which features may be the most important, most frequently used or innovative for his prospects or customers.
- Target Your Sales Messages – too often agents used statistics that have been derived from different marketing segments without considering their applicability to their specific prospects. For example the fact that those businesses that use video and web collaboration experience travel cost reductions and greater 25% productivity improvements may not be applicable to a business that works out of a single small office or in a vary localized geography. The priorities and needs of a small business are difference from those of a medium size business or those of a large enterprise. Also, the ability to allocate resources to investigate hosted UC varies depending upon available resources. Enterprises have both the resources (people, systems, and money) and time to generate RFIs or competitive matrices to discover solution marketplace leaders. Most SMBs do not and therefore need to have materials presented without the over use of jargon and technical terms that lead to confusion. An agent needs to know when to use technology terminology or lay terms to communicate the value, function and future for the solution.
- The Proof is in the Pudding: Today, 86% of buyers have researched product prior to contacting a company to express interest. Furthermore, it is estimated that they have collected 57% of the applicable information towards making a decision. This still leaves room for you, the sales person to contribute. Most businesses find case studies and or market reports to be very useful in determining which service provider and hosted UC product may be bets for them. If the agent is providing the case study or report, make certain that the examples are easily relatable in terms of size of business, industry or business practices. Nothing turns a small business off faster than when all examples are large enterprises. Case studies and market reports representing similar sized companies that confirm cost savings, productivity improvements, increases in customer satisfaction, etc. are welcomed and move the sales process forward.
- Ask for the Order (Always Be Closing) – too often agents are told not rush or push the prospect. Remember every day that a qualified prospect goes unsigned is a day that another competitor can either become active in the sales process or actually usurp the agent’s position as the desired solution. Agents need to understand their sales style and how best to apply it to different prospects. A high energy sales person does not necessarily turn off a low key buyer. It is more important to understand how an “A” style sales person should interact with a conservative buyer. Buyers are looking for sales people they can trust, learn from, that have shown respect them throughout the process, that have demonstrated an understanding of their business and those that made the sales process simple and comfortable while providing a reason to move forward and make a purchase.
Hosted Unified Communications by its name alone does not convey simplicity. Yet, at its core it is a PBX with ancillary features, applications and services. Take the time to listen to and understand your targets business and then develop a strategy to engage beginning with the commonly known features moving only to the esoteric features that are applicable. In a market that is described as “self-servicing”, buyers are not waiting to be introduced to new products by sales people. They may already have knowledge and an opinion of a hosted UC solution. If you are properly prepared and armed with useful collateral (case studies, reports, demonstration capability, etc.) you will be able to augment and, if necessary, influence the buyer towards your product. Do these things and you will shorten your sales cycle and win in highly competitive market.