Why Aren't You My Customer?

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

Why Aren't You My Customer?

COMPTEL had a sales training session for attendees with Stephen Schiffman. Schiffman has written 50+ books in his 35 year career and was the primary trainer for both Nextel and Sprint.

The big take away is the question: Why aren't you my customer? It is an important question. It is the story behind the answer that will tell you why people buy what they buy.

For the most part, this industry does a lot of replacement sales. SIP trunking for voice, broadband or Metro Ethernet for Internet or T1 - and it is the way the industry has evolved. It has always been about replacing like for like for a savings. Since the days of the pin drop in 1986, this industry has been saving people money and talking about fiber.

Sales has changed. A lot. It is harder to talk to someone on the phone (or in person). Cold calling is more frustrating than ever. Appointment setting is a success when 1 appointment is made per 500 calls. The Internet, voicemail, cellphones, caller ID and so many other things have disrupted sales. Well, that and people ruin every tool. I got 3 robocalls today!

There are 3 other factors working against sales. Less Personnel -- companies have been laying off for a long time (since 2007?) and doing without the head count. This means no one has time for anything because their day is already filled with stuff to do.

There is a budget and capital question. With competition everywhere, margins are tight so cash flow is tight. It might be in the budget - or that line item might have been used for something else. Hosted PBX sales still have a CAPEX in phones, switch, install, etc. And it is usually more than the SMB buyer thinks it will be.

The final factor is that most projects never realize the savings, synergies or benefits that they were sold on. Integration hardly ever works as advertised. The features don't produce the desired results for the employees. Historically, the company may have switched carriers before and had a really bad experience (not uncommon in our industry). That history and skepticism gets in the way of sales. At the least, it drags the sales process out a really long time.


Cloud is Change. It should be. It is NOT just a replacement for the box (or why not just sell the box? It would be easier.) Most sales reps don't get that at all. Our industry is about replacement, so we think the cloud is too. And sell it the same way.

People fight Change. Including You.

Be Honest: Aren't you still selling the same way you were 5 years ago? You are going to say No, but the truth is that 40% of reps don't hit quota. Blame the quota if you want, but most sales reps don't have a ridiculous quota -- and it on average takes about 3 sales to hit it. Selling has changed, but your style hasn't. Do you still wear the same suit you did when you got into this business?

The information superhighway has taken away a lot of the sales reps' power. The buyer has all the information. LinkedIn and other social networks allow for referrals that bypass the sales reps.

I know that we don't sell food or rooms, but do you know what Urbanspoon, Google reviews, TripAdvisor and Yelp have done to restaurants and hotels? Yet our industry is all about customer service too -- and we haven't really taken to social selling or even social media or referrals or testimonials. Why not?

All these changes and you still sell the same way.

Why aren't you my customer?

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