A Failure to Communicate

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

A Failure to Communicate

In the Agent space, many non-telco vendors (like Conferencing and Hosted PBX providers) have tried to get traction. Sales traction from this independent sales force. It isn't going well.

Agents (and VAR's) spend about 80-99% of the work week in the comfort zone. That is, doing what they have always done. Selling what they have always sold. Selling the same way they always have.

Growth only happens in the Dis-Comfort Zone.

So providers have asked to co-market to the VAR or Agent client base. Maybe that happens one time. Maybe the results are "not worth it". So it doesn't happen again.

What's the Problem?

Well, Marketing requires Repetition - Not One and Done. There are 4 factors for marketing: list, headline, offer and repeat.

It could be that the Value Proposition for the new service (could be conferencing, data backup, efax or whatever) doesn't resonate with many of the targets.

One problem with Cloud is that it's too generic. It needs to be sold as a package aimed at a set vertical. For example, a premium Dental Office Bundle of DSL, 3G, mobile, credit card processing, data backup, EMR, dental practice management, invoicing system and payroll which ends up being a Dental Office in a Box.

That is easier to wrap your head around as both an Agent and a Customer.

Take Retail. Legacy New Edge Networks (now EarthLink Business) was very good at selling to Retail on its branding of PCI Compliance. The VAR or Agent can reduce churn and increase residuals if they sold a package of other services down that pipe. Attached to the NEN AX Platform are companies offering payroll, Hosted PBX and more. (I'm not sure how Agents make money on that, but it is a private connection via MPLS to the AX Platform.

What if payroll, Network DVR, a point-of-sale system, credit card processing, web conferencing, email, Blackberry service were added to the MPLS service along with 3G backup and cell phone service? The client gets one stop service for all its business application needs; the carrier gets a sticky customer with big ARPU (even though a percentage of it goes to partner companies); and the Agent or VAR gets paid on a bigger ARPU.

Plus now the Agent and VAR understand how Cloud and Apps and SaaS can affect a sale and a customer relationship. Something that has been disconnected before.

Next you have Unified Communications which has a similar disconnect for Agents and VAR's. Agents used to selling T1's and Ethernet and VAR's selling switches and servers don't have any of the UC components on their radar.

In this webinar with XO about the UC Sandbox, we talk about how UC is just a bunch of components to help any company communicate with employees, customers, prospects, partners and vendors. For UC sales to take off, the idea of the UC Sandbox has to get granular with very specific examples.

We will need case studies in print, podcast and video that are short but concrete about how a jewelry story benefited from UC and specifically what parts. Or how an auto dealership utilized UC to sell more cars or more efficiently scheduled repairs.

In the grand scheme, providers have to do a better job of being concrete with a value proposition and a specific case for both the indirect channel and the marketplace to embrace both Cloud and UC. All too often, I get pitched with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that is either all about the company or a string of buzz words. Neither of those pitches explain what the benefit is; what the value play is; who would buy it; why would they buy; what pain does it solve. It is this failure to communicate these necessities that is causing a disconnect in sales.

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