Zayo Group announced the formation of a dedicated team focused on Small Cell and Fiber to the Tower (FTT) initiative (in this press release). That's a good idea. In fact, when RAD-INFO INC is consulting on mergers between TDM companies and cloud companies, this is one approach that we have used.
There are different types of salespeople. Whale Hunters, farmers, transactional, good ones, bad ones, mediocre ones. Some companies grade the sales people as A, B, C. Taking a small group of A players to create a Sales SWAT team to take a product to market is a good idea. B and C teams can refer business to the "Closers" in the SWAT team. The compensation plan will have to be adjusted accordingly to provide for this type of sales structure.
Why a SWAT team? Let's look at the FTT market. The tower companies are merging together. SBA just dropped $1.45 billion to grab 3252 towers from TowerCo. SBA's revenue from 15,000 towers comes from mainly 3 companies: Sprint at 27%, while T-Mobile and VZW make up about 30-35% of the revenue. There are not a lot of cellcos in the US.
AT&T, VZW, Sprint, T-Mobile, Clearwire, Cricket/Leap, US Cellular, C Spire (formerly Cellular South), MetroPCS and nTelos make up the majority of the revenue. A bunch of rural cellcos make up the minority. That's why a SWAT team is a good idea. You know who the players are. You know that the sales interval is nearing its end. By that, I mean, that being the second fiber provider to a tower is way less profitable - and as contracts expire, it becomes a bidding war, which is even less profitable. So you want to be the first and hopefully sole fiber provider to a tower. The window is closing on this opportunity as cable companies, ILEC's, and regional fiber companies are all chasing this business. A SWAT team allows you to put the best people on it, give them a goal, a focus, and let them get to it.
Selling this focused to a small pool of prospects is more like selling for Boeing or Honeywell or a defense contractor. Boeing has a limited number of customers - airlines and friendly air forces. Boeing only has a few chances every 4 or 5 years to sell its planes. The Boeing's sales team spends a lot of time doing research on a prospect and even more preparing the sales presentation. READ: PREPARATION! What does a Police SWAT team do? Practice, Prepare, and Practice.
What does a typical telecom salesperson do? Run around chasing low hanging fruit. No practice. No prep. I see it time and again. On a tele-seminar last week, a sales guy was looking for a silver bullet. Is there a new way to prospect? Not really. Sure you can use LinkedIn to search for prospects, it is an easy way to kill an hour or so per day. However, the sales guy isn't doing research now, so would he want to do it in LinkedIn? Not likely.
I think more companies will establish Sales SWAT teams, especially for specialized services or product launches to get traction in the marketplace.
When I look at the Channel, I see carriers trying to find that perfect partner. Without knowing the skill set (like CCIE, MCA or CCISP) or specialty of a telecom agency, how would the carrier being able to help them specialize or provide them the service offerings (and accompanying marketing assistance) that would make for a successful partnership? For example, as a telecom agent, I mainly sell to service providers and mainly sell Internet bandwidth and transport. No matter how many times I tell that to carriers, they still try to get me to sell whatever the organization is pushing that quarter. What a waste of time.
Want a Channel SWAT Team? Look at the Agency's client base, history of sales, examine what offerings can be added to get stickier to that base, and make it about the Agency and its customers, not the carrier comp plan or what the C-Suite promised Wall Street.
When Cbeyond decided to go all-in on Cloud, it took a while to realize that they had to change more than the brochure. They had to change the sales force and th executive team. Cloud is not TDM. Cloud is not an Integrated Access Solution. If you want change - like to stop being a T1 slinger - you need to change culture, personnel, compensation plans, and your way of thinking. The whole company can't change overnight, but changes can be made incrementally with something like a Sales SWAT Team.