Separating the Good Telecom Agent From the Great One

Natural selling ability is a must for all agents who want to succeed, but there certainly are differentiating traits between the good sales people and the truly great ones. Both are tasked with doing the same thing–selling–but they vary in how they do their job.

  • Good sales people sell products.
  • Great sales people sell themselves.

Good sales people know every feature and benefit of their product. They spend most of their selling time educating buyers about why their product is the best. Great sales people know exactly the same information but spend less time talking about them. Instead, they get to know people, open their hearts, and build relationships to win the respect of their customers. They believe in the mantra that people buy from people they know and trust.

  • Good sales people are well-versed in the science of selling.
  • Great sales people are experts in both the science and art of selling.

Scientific selling is good practice but great sales people work outside the box and know how to use a good mix of science and art. They treat selling as a craft that needs creative skill and imagination to convince buyers to choose their products.

  • Good sales people achieve expectations.
  • Great sales people exceed expectations.

Good sales people are proficient and can settle for a good sale. Great sales people are passionate and are never satisfied with a good sale; they always do more to achieve more. They know that they have to go back to the customer again and again to stay in the game long enough, treating every turn along the way as a new opportunity for a new sale or repeat order.

  • Good sales people know their buyers’ needs.
  • Great sales people create buyers’ needs.

After successfully closing a sale on a product the buyer needed, a good sales person will walk away and look for new prospects. A great sales person will stay on and create a need that can land him or her a new sale. For instance, let’s say that the product just bought satisfies the buyer’s need for effective HR management. A great sales person will offer an application enhancement that will further improve the effectiveness of the product or something that will meet new regulatory requirements.

  • Good sales people talk about their product.
  • Great sales people let their buyers talk about their business and needs.

Certainly, sales persons need to discuss their product, but more time should be given to allow buyers time to talk about their business. Great sales people often succeed in getting to know the needs of their customers by listening and asking questions. They focus on problems and offer solutions. Their creative minds and imagination begin to work as they visualize the exact product that the customer must have.

  • Good sales people tend to make big promises.
  • Great sales people promise only what they can deliver.

Hoping to make a quick sale, many sales people make big promises. There is danger in this technique because big promises are never easy to fulfill. Great sales people promise only what they can deliver so that they can have a better chance to fulfill them. This also gives them the opportunity to exceed customer expectations and strengthen people’s trust in them.

Good and great sales people differ in many more ways; the list could continue indefinitely. There is no one secret to becoming a great one, but, when good is not good enough, the next best destination is greatness.

Crafting Successful Anecdotes for Telecom Pitches

Previously, theorists liked to argue that purchasing choices, especially those at the business level, were based primarily on facts and reason. The idea of the customer who is carefully weighing and evaluating options is appealing, and there’s no doubt that many customers do incorporate facts into their purchasing decision.  

However, mounting scientific evidence is quickly concluding that emotions are at least as important in influencing purchasing choices.  Facts, it seems, only take human beings so far. Emotions close the deal.

When, then, are sales pitches replete with facts but little emotion? The most successful ones will be ones that acknowledge the reality of the humanity in purchasing choices.

Cut Through the Jargon 

Is there much in the telecommunications industry less exciting than reading a hardware press release?  Half the time, it’s little more than charts and tables, and the release usually contains a fair sampling of names or attributes that were invented by a marketing department.  

On top of that, consider this: Try to specifically describe the differences between some cloud services to a layperson. You’ll find that it’s nearly impossible because of the jargon that, let’s face it, clouds the facts of the matter.

While the various facts and figures may make for impressive slideshows for the executives, the reality for the everyday buyer is different.  Mostly, they are looking for a telecom agent who can cut through the gibberish.  They want an effective solution that will work for them–not the one that produces the most impressive PowerPoint.  

Make Strategic Emotional Appeals

Appeals to emotion have a bad reputation, partly due to how easy it is to buffalo people with deceptive emotional manipulation. However, there’s nothing wrong with adding some personal elements to telecom sales pitches.  Sometimes, it’s the only way to break through the jargon and actually engage a lead with something besides towering bar charts.

When stories are true and when they are used ethically, they are effective emotional appeals.

Simply put, stories or other humanistic elements enhance telecom pitches and all communications.  The stories should include plenty of facts, of course, and they should present a context that the buyer can relate to.

How will those facts translate into sales success?  Let’s take a look.

Integrating Anecdotes

1. Narrate Previous Successes   

Selling with stories is often as easy as starting with this: "We had a situation like that a few months ago…" 

New buyers who are unfamiliar with current telecom technologies want reassurance more than anything else.  They want to know they’re buying from a partner who understands their business needs.   Success stories and other testimonials integrate perfectly into pitches.   

2. Use Personal Anecdotes  

Most buyers don’t relish the idea of working with a faceless company that regards them as an account number.  As global telecommunications move people further apart, they need more reassurances they’re still dealing with other real people at the other end of the videophone.  

Incidents from the agency’s history or the insurance agents themselves are good ice-breakers and help add the "personal touch" to a presentation overloaded with statistics.   

3. Don’t Forget Humor  

Humor is the universal teaching tool.  Nothing can cause a person’s brain to embrace a new idea more quickly aside from physical pain, but that’s rarely a good sales technique.    

A client who laughs while hearing a sales pitch is far more likely to remember it later. And when they do remember it, they’ll smile.  

Path to Success 

People remember stories.  They remember stories that interest them, and they especially remember stories that make them laugh.    

A smart telecom agent looking to engage with leads and make them care about the products will hook them in with a good story or personal anecdote.  Stories create the context for a pitch’s facts, and they help ensure that they remain in the client’s mind later on, when it comes time to make the decision to purchase.

How Telecom Agents Boost Brand Engagement

The massively networked business world has transformed the role of telecom agents from one of luxury to one of necessity. As mobility expanded and as the cloud began to dominate, products and services converged. Telecom agents and their competitive cousins, VARs, yielded a higher demand than did direct carrier reps as businesses competed for brand engagement.

The key advantage of telecom agents is that they bring time-tested skills and traits that help them excel over sales reps when it comes to building brand. When marketed by a telecom agent, the brand of the carrier, service provider, product, or service is boosted as value is added.

Business enterprises, small and medium-sized businesses, and start-ups all benefit from leveraging the services of telecom agents because customers look to agents as liaisons between them and the carriers. People buy from telecom agents– not directly from carriers– because these agents have vast market knowledge and simply know what’s best for customers.

Objective, expert assessment

IT departments spend much of their time in the maintenance and fixing of IT problems instead of researching new technologies. As a consequence, the business loses productivity and competitiveness. Working with an agent allows customers to get an objective assessment of technology trends. It also frees IT managers from having to engage in time-consuming and self-serving sales pitches from multiple carriers. Customers can’t afford dedicated IT experts to evaluate different solutions from different providers, but they can get assessment services from telecom agents at no cost.

Streamlined process

A telecom agent can present multiple options side by side in a single contact point. Customers also get a chance to learn of the best deals and discounts instead of guessing the price. Direct carrier sales reps often have limited and unpredictable work tenures, which means that customers have to start the process all over again when new reps are hired. Telecom agents with established agencies can offer their services for as long as they are in business. Installation is done by the carrier; only supervision is needed on the customer side. Even that task can be completely left to telecom agents.

Managed, continuing service

Telecom agents offer expertise in various management systems, including inventory management, review and audit of bills, services and inventory, and helpdesk services. In addition, if companies experience problems, telecom agents will intervene and solve the issues with the carriers. These services are part and parcel when working with a telecom agent. Telecom agents provide one point of contact and one portal for multiple carriers; this is in contrast to several points of contact and portals for differing carriers. In other words, telecom agents are capable of customizing a full-service solution for any business.

How can a business make their brand prominent? In the fiercely competitive telecom world, independent telecom agents with proven track records can help businesses’ brands make a permanent impression for buyers. Working with an agent now could save a business the risk of having an ineffective carrier, product, or service; an agent could take a business’s brand engagement campaign to the next level.

How Science & Data Can Drive Telecom Sales

If you or your colleagues are using old "call and pray" methods to keep in touch with your leads and to create sales, know that these traditional methods are outdated. Data-based methods are revolutionizing sales in all areas–especially in the telecom arena.

Even if all you have to start with is a blank Excel file, you can start quickly building a set of records that can guide you towards more customers at lower acquisition costs.

Adding Data to Your Sales

How exactly can data help drive your sales? Consider the following:

I. It helps you know your customers.

It’s common enough for a skilled sales person to keep notes on various leads, don’t just keep them in your desk. Building a database of client and customer information will quickly help you create new sales campaigns.

This may take a little while but be persistent. As you build information about your contacts, you’ll start to find patterns in the data, such as shared hobbies. These, then, give you more insight into their personality, and more "hooks" on which to hang sales offers.

2. Data helps you see your clients’ total lifetime value (TLV).

The TLV of your clients is one of the most important factors when considering a scientific sales approach. Methods for calculating this can be detailed or can be based on educated guesses–depending on what your data allows. What you want to know is this: How much money do you expect to make per converted lead?

For businesses with a long existing history, this can be calculated with precision based on past data. For newer companies, use your best guess but be realistic. You can’t assume every client will be placing annual orders for the next century.

The TLV number is vital because it gives you an upper boundary on your marketing and other sales acquisition costs. Precise tracking is important, especially expense-account purchases. If you’re paying more to obtain a customer than they bring in for sales, it’s a losing proposition for your business.

3. Data solidifies sales ROI.

Once you have an estimated TLV, start applying it to your marketing and sales efforts. A very simple return-on-investment formula will be one of your best friends.

The basic ROI formula is simply: (Profits – Costs) / Costs.

In this case, the "profits" would be a client’s TLV, and costs would be whatever your sales and marketing take away. Dividing it this way gives you a fractional answer. If the number is above 1.0 (which represents the break-even point), you’ll know that your sales efforts are truly profitable.

The higher the number, the more profitable you are. Since the costs in sales are largely avoidable, it gives you a good guideline for reducing waste and improving profits.

4. Data secures your spot.

There’s been an unfortunate tendency in businesses, especially in the last twenty years or so, to have sales departments that are isolated from the rest of the business. However, as you come to embrace data-driven techniques, the information you compile can be useful for the entire company.

Ensure that access and the flow of communication remains open. Sales doesn’t have to be a "side project" at your business. If you’re sitting on the best database of consumer ideas and preferences at the company, you can be a source of important insights into the sales direction of your company.

Data Makes the Difference

Good data tracking, handling, and computation often makes the difference between the successes and failures in the telecom industry. By embracing a scientific approach to sales, you’ll be able to deliver what your customers want–and at lower costs to your business.

Taking a Proactive Approach to Marketing Cloud Solutions

Telecom agents, value added resellers (VARs), managed services providers, and other cloud technology stakeholders face a daunting marketing responsibility ahead. The confusing cloud environment and people’s disconcerted understanding of what the cloud is all about are the biggest challenges for cloud marketers.

What can marketers do when potential cloud adopters don’t know the difference between genuine cloud solutions and pseudo-cloud adaptations? How can they approach a divergent market that is characterized by populations like these: consumers who don’t know what cloud is, customers who have an idea of what cloud is but don’t know what to do with it, and customers who know what cloud is and plan to adopt it? What follows are ideas about how to approach these divergent populations.

Show how cloud works

Appealing to the sense of sight is especially helpful for IT-minded business people like CIOs. Video tutorials are compelling tools to demonstrate how the technology works, and they also easily can illustrate the cloud’s core benefits. The main goal of a video tutorial would be to educate–never to make a direct sales pitch. Viewers easily get irritated by bombastic overtures and often opt out of such presentations. Product tutorials, step-by-step guides, and how-to pieces are excellent video ideas that help tell the story of the cloud and how it can help their business.

Give proof

Businesses want to ensure that when they shift to new technology like cloud services, they are not plunging into the unknown. They want proof of the technology’s success and of satisfied customer experience through factual case studies and testimonials. Documenting a true story of defining a problem, offering a solution, and achieving positive results will help a company establish itself as a thought leader in its niche. Testimonials by verifiable customers also are convincing and can lead to sales.

Use illustrations

Text is an important part of your website, but images and graphics almost always get the viewer’s primary and initial attention. With the emergence of millions of camera-enabled mobile devices, the world has become a visual culture where images are the driving force for increased customer engagement. In a high speed business landscape where people have less and less time to read lengthy text, high-quality photos and readable graphics are the key to spurring conversion and sales.

Anticipate customers’ questions

Customers need immediate answers to questions about new cloud services that they intend to adopt, but they may not know where to look for this information and who to ask. A frequently asked questions webpage holds a lot of value, and it serves as the first line of customer service. It becomes an even more effective online customer service center if it provides organized, accurate, relevant, transparent, and up-to-date questions and answers.

Offer value-based pricing

Price is often the main consideration, but, as many know, cheapest is not always the best. Many customers are still hitched to the lowest price, but many are open to exploring price for value. They know that they may be saving long-term costs if they put a premium on the value of the product they are buying. A price sheet, therefore, is more than just a list of price levels. Value-based pricing highlights the features, functionalities, and benefits of a product, clearly indicating what price comes with what feature.

Telecom agents are at the crossroads of their marketing careers as the cloud hovers over their heads. No matter what the game looks like years from now, the competition will continue. Technology integration through the cloud is paving the way to the integration of services by MSPs, telecom agents, VARs, and other marketing stakeholders. The best way to compete is to collaborate.

Understanding Demands and Desires of SaaS Customers

As cloud computing adoption has picked up across all areas of business, telecom agents have been successfully transitioning themselves into cloud brokerage.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings allow virtually anyone to take advantage of cloud systems with minimal hardware investment. However, because the technology is so new, proper targeting is needed to successfully pitch SaaS services to clients.

Broadly speaking, productive cloud agents divide the market into three major groups:

1.    Private home consumers,

2.    Small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs), and

3.    Large enterprises.

As one might imagine, these three markets have significantly different goals and expectations for their cloud adoption. Understanding the differences between these markets is vital for a cloud broker looking to succeed with SaaS offerings.

Selling the Right SaaS Services to the Right Customers

1. Private Consumers

In many ways, cloud adoption was driven by the private market. Consumers took to cloud services like Gmail without a second thought, and it was in this sphere that cloud-based SaaS offerings proved themselves.

Most SaaS services that a telecom agent would offer to private consumers would only be used intermittently, such as home security monitoring. In nearly all cases, the services that consumers purchase could be implemented privately and locally but with much higher up-front costs.

Otherwise, basic cloud services such as email and file storage are so ubiquitous that most consumers can solve these problems for themselves. Money-conscious, they are unlikely to pay for services that they can get for free.

Private customers are looking for the following:

·         "Fire and forget" solutions that don’t require active management.

·         Web portals that allow self-service when necessary.

·         Generally reliable service, but they will usually tolerate short outages as long as they can receive accurate ETAs for service restoration.

·         On-demand backups for their archived records, requiring robust backup storage.

2. SMBs

For telecom agents moving into cloud brokerage, SMBs will likely be their bread and butter. These smaller businesses probably have an existing network infrastructure, but it’s likely to be years out of date and built ad-hoc from off-the-shelf hardware.

SMBs inquiring about SaaS have already been sold the vision of global cloud services, and they likely already understand that cloud-based services are needed to have an edge.

Their primary fears are costs and reliability. An SMB that is adopting cloud services will use them on a daily basis and will quickly come to rely on them. The key to capturing the SMB as customer is finding affordable solutions backed up with quality guarantees.

An SMB wants these benefits:

·         Custom applications built to fit their needs.

·         Minimal new hardware investments but with an understanding they may be necessary.

·         Interfaces with power and control, but ones that don’t require networking experts onsite.

·         Robust databases with room to grow.

·         Plenty of assurance that the service will be reliable. The importance of reliability cannot be overstated here.

3. Enterprises

Large enterprises generally have a good idea of what they want from SaaS. Rather than end-to-end solutions, they’re likely looking for specific applications to support specific departments and projects. They’ll usually have plenty of relevant information on their plans.

Internal tensions and politics may become a factor. Some enterprises favor cloud services because they cut internal IT out of the picture. Others with a strong IT department may want self-modifiable software that they can reimplement themselves.

Large enterprises desire the following:

·         Security.  Given the potentially huge costs of enterprise-level data intrusions, security concerns often even trump reliability.

·         Modifiable custom software, including secure APIs.

·         Uninterrupted universal database access.

·         Quality of service guarantees on voice and video applications.

·         Personalized and responsive service.

The cloud SaaS market offers opportunities for telecom agents in every market, but an awareness of these market differences are necessary for success.