Maximizing Customer Revenues in Race to Zero Era
By Thomas B. Cross CEO – TECHtionary.com
Moving up markets and up margins, providers and partners alike are caught in a myriad of options to maximize customer solutions and revenues. As the traditional three legs of the revenue stool – hardware/cloud, connectivity/bandwidth and professional services change, new business models are needed.
Coupled with new technologies such as IoT, 5G, collaboration, complex unified communications, machine intelligence or AI, and others that require rethinking how providers and partners work together. Moreover, it is not clear or certain that customers really want from one or many providers/partners as they adopt new technologies even faster. For example, most food retailers see technology as a critical part of their growth in such forms of online ordering, order ahead, mobile apps, touch-free kiosks, and voice-recognition drive-thrus, rewards/loyalty games, touch-free payments, multi-modal delivery tracking via humans/robots, martech, AI analytics, and more coming. In addition, the role of training all the staff takes on new challenges as the complexity of the systems increases exponentially as suggested by this article in QSR Smart Equipment Only Pays Off With Good Training “There’s a misconception that if you adopt smart solutions without a strategy, they just work.”
This also means there could be 30+ providers/partners involved in the new retail transaction system not just the person taking your order. Where this is going is to automate every system that humans have done until humans are an increasingly smaller role in business transactions. There are many other business types that will make the technology mix even more complex such as airlines, hospitality, healthcare, financial, education and others.
This means that the number and types of partners involved with customers will also increase and customers increasingly wanting it more complete than piece-parts. When you add in consultants, advisors, APIs, hybrid and multi-cloud, EoT-everything over the internet and other planned but also unanticipated consequences, the future is really amazing though possibly a bit blinding. Now that I have outlined some of the issues, here are some of the ways forward for providers and customers alike:
– Sell to Customer (provider does it all)- in this scenario, a provider who is new to market has a direct sales team that does it all. They may have partners for maintenance or training; however, the provider wants total customer control.
– Sell Through Partner – (provider-partner partnership) providers work with partners leading the way. This works if the partner and provider both have teams each focused on and capable of the desired customer solutions. However, this scenario generally fails because the provider provides the partner with techno-babble content, no leads, little training, technical and user support – just expecting them to sell it. Then they wonder why the partner fails. The solution is content-ready for both the partner and the partner’s customers, on-partner site training, sales leads, good commissions, best-in-case multi-level technical and user support and more. There are many other variations explored in Exhibit A.
– Sell For Partner – (provider sells, then hands-off to partner) in this scenario the provider may actually sell for the partner then build the necessary solutions for customers and then “hand-off” at any agreed-upon stage involve the partners to manage deployment and ongoing the customer solution and potentially manage and scale ongoing usage. This separates sales from deployment allowing the provider to maximize their sales/marketing.
There may be other forms but this gives you are starting point whether you are a provider or partner to build your own business model. One person interviewed for this added a humorous note “sell by date” as if this was a quart of milk or another perishable. What is known is that current business models are also perishable and sitting still will only lead to faster demise.
Future All-inclusive Selling – the paradigm of selling is changing as the nature and complexity of the purchase is changing. No longer do customers just “buy and DIY” they want the complete “happy meal” already to go. Like “all inclusive” travel has taken over the way people go on vacation customers are increasingly looking for a “Geek Squad” to be there anywhere-anytime to find/fix the problem and as necessary take the blame as the corporate buy does not want to lose their job by buying your solution.
Lastly, regarding marketing see Figure 1 and 2 to guide content and documentation for these complex sales and customers interactions. No more technobabble but in-depth custom personas content or as one writer put it “practical personalizations” is more than mere case studies but proven results that brings customers insights to all those involved in the decision, not just the business analyst who made the initial call.
Summary – Provider-Partner selling options will only become more complex as the number of technologies, API integrations and customer situations increase. Yet by incorporating the concepts presented here can results in increased revenues, shortened sales cycles and increased customers-customers’ experience.
This concept is also presented in TMCnet Selling UP Market UP Margin Technology to SMB & Enterprise Certification at ITEXPO/MSPEXPO. (registration required)
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