As telecom technology and cloud computing continue to evolve together, customers and stakeholders are discovering the advantages of a single-source, cross-platform communications infrastructure that takes into account today’s mobile, remote workforce. At the same time, closer ties are being forged between telecom agents and IT providers – in fact, joint marketing of telecom and IT “more than doubled from 4% to 10% year-over-year in 2012,” according to Telecompetitor.
An SMB customer who has yet to adopt a cloud solution may ask you why he should invest in this technology when he considers his own infrastructure and bandwidth appropriate for his business.
Many business upgrades require a resource investment to get started – but with the best upgrades, the ROI becomes apparent in day-to-day results. In the case of cloud computing, you can demonstrate the cost savings many SMBs have enjoyed when they “pulled the plug.” Compare the cost of in-house hardware and software – buying it, licensing it and maintaining it – to a “pay as you use” option that cloud providers offer.
This simple outsourcing of telecom and other systems to a cloud provider can generate dramatic savings.
When you think about how today’s workforce accesses their data – from their computers, phones and tablets, both in the office and on the road – information security becomes a hot topic. You may point out to a skeptical customer that he already uses secured cloud computing every day in the form of Gmail, Google Docs and Facebook or Twitter.
Passwords, encryption and other proven tactics enter into cloud security, but for the customer who remains worried, you may suggest a hybrid cloud solution, in which some information remains in the company’s own network and other data is sent into the clouds.
In-house systems can be a drain: from the space they use in the office to the electricity it takes to power and cool the hardware — not to mention the personnel paid to maintain the systems.
But some ROI studies show that that cloud computing essentially pays for itself within one calendar year of its integration into an enterprise. As a telecom agent, you can use such studies to move closer to a green light from your customer.
For telecom agents, business is all about bandwidth. Getting the right information to the right people at the right time can mean the difference between connecting with a new client and missing out on opportunities.
But lead generation is hard, time-consuming work. It requires the telecom agent to research the prospects, to figure out who to pitch, to make phone calls and to hope to get an appointment. If time, resources and energy equate to a telecom agent’s bandwidth, cold-calling takes up a lot of it.
It’s a fact that a telecom agents’ time is best spent working with clients and prospective clients.Working directly with clients to understand their needs, analyzing solution options, developing proposals and connecting clients with vendors who can best address the challenges of each client are reasons why telecom agents are such valuable partners to clients. These are the activities that generate the highest return on investment and, ultimately, generate the most revenue.
Pounding the pavement is a sales technique as antiquated as analog. It might work occasionally. But mostly it just burns through a telecom agent’s bandwidth.
The answer is to partner with a company that specializes in generating qualified sales leads.
Appointment-setting firms are the secret weapon of the most efficient and successful telecom agents. They are the behind-the-scenes sales force that does one thing—they arrange face-to-face meetings between the telecom agent and representatives from businesses in need of telecom services.
The appointment setting firms take care of the bandwidth-sucking activities related to lead generation:
• research and information gathering
• ensuring that the organization is a viable sales lead
• appointment setting
Once the appointment is arranged, the firm hands the client off to the telecom agent, who can then do the things he or she is best at:
• analyze the prospective clients’ needs
• develop a proposed solution
• present options to the clients
• close the deal and connect the clients to vendors who can solve their telecom problems
Yes, the telecom business is all about bandwidth. It’s what agents provide to their clients, and it’s what an appointment setting firm can provide to agents.
Successful telecom agents make a living solving their clients’ communication problems. Whether it’s providing more reliable service, adding functionality, or lowering costs, for telecom agents to be successful, they must add value to the client. They have to do something else, too: They have to convince the client to let them help. There are six secrets that successful telecom agents harness to help turn prospects into clients.
Before discussing the six secrets, there is one additional thing that all telecom agents must do before they ever sit down with a client. They must prepare by getting to know the client and their needs before ever sitting down with the client. The more that agents know about the client, the more they can tailor their approach and focus on using the six secrets effectively.
1. Create a sense of obligation. Without being pushy, successful agents guide their prospects to feel like they owe them the business. Doing free work like conducting a survey of an existing telecommunications system can be a way to create this sense of obligation. 2. Make prospects fear loss. If there’s no urgency to the sale, it’s hard to motivate a prospect to move forward. However, if the prospect feels like he or she may lose the opportunity to purchase the service, the client is more likely to strike while the proverbial iron is still hot. 3. Demonstrate value. Prospects respond to telecommunications agents that demonstrate their credibility through professionalism or through sharing specialized and valuable knowledge. 4. Make clients commit. Telecom agents who can get a prospect to agree to work with them before they actually close them for the business are much more likely to convert the opportunity into booked business. Techniques such as trial closing are especially useful in accomplishing this step. 5. Be a safe choice. Prospects prefer to work with agents and companies that are already working with similar companies to them. Presenting testimonials and lists of existing clients helps to make one’s offerings look like a safe and accepted choice. 6. Be likable. The old adage that people do business with people they like still holds true. Telecom agents who are are personable and who prospects can relate to are usually more successful at closing business.
Anyone who has been in the telecom business any length of time knows this one essential truth: A good percentage of customers choose this particular type of service business based on recommendations from colleagues. High-quality leads that are based on referrals have been estimated at as high as 45% of client rolls. So, while drawing up a sales strategy, failing to include a game plan for generating referrals is akin to leaving leads on the table.
Avoid sounding scripted: Everyone has gotten that 7 p.m. dinnertime phone call where a telemarketer has a great deal. It’s hard to ignore the value. But the caller is reading from a script. It’s unprofessional and an amateur move. While it’s a good idea to put a “referral pitch” on paper for the purposes of articulating and stressing specific points, it’s crucial to turn that script into a natural dialogue. Getting flustered when a client interrupts to ask a question is a giant red flag to hone the monologue.
Find the comfort zone: Speak in a tone that feels natural, and use relaxed, comfortable vocabulary. Remember that asking for leads should not be a campaign speech.
Capitalize on compliments: When a client offers praise and expresses satisfaction, remind her that she’ll be the superstar when her colleagues have the opportunity to receive the same stellar service.
One thing every expert agrees on: Asking for quality leads is a crucial element of every sales strategy. Incorporating a referral source program into a sales protocol will eliminate those doorknob lead requests and awkward follow-up phone calls and emails. Without consistently working on and perfecting a reliable strategy, asking for leads can feel awkward for client and sales professionals alike.
While there’s no one secret to sourcing high-quality leads, there are a number of ways to get it right. Letting satisfied clients know they should recommend their professional telecom sales professional to colleagues is a good start.
“Bring Your Own Device” or BYOD is one of the latest emerging trends among enterprise users. With the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, BYOD is becoming more attractive to employees who already have productive mobile devices of their own. In many cases, employees may find a particular platform, such as Microsoft Windows or Apple’s iOS, as more amenable to their daily needs.
Many companies are starting to warm up to BYOD as a way to not only offset capital expenses and reduce costs, but also to increase productivity by allowing employees to leverage their skills sets using the tools they feel are most suitable for their tasks. However, employers are also concerned with the implications that BYOD poses in regards to security, data control and monitoring.
How companies see BYOD largely depends on their ability to effectively manage the systems and equipment their employees choose to use. For instance, some companies provide their employees with a comprehensive list of preferred hardware. These lists are often created with the intent of making the provisioning process as streamlined as possible. Security and product familiarity are also major considerations when developing a list of preferred hardware choices.
Managed service providers are finding clinical opportunities to assist companies in mitigating concerns surrounding BYOD. For instance, security concerns for BYOD devices are often alleviated through the deployment of managed security offerings, providing an effective response against security breaches and other malicious actions. Managed service providers can also help companies manage a variety of otherwise hidden problems, including increased burdens on wireless LAN network infrastructure.
Companies looking for telecom services have a choice between going direct to a telecom provider and working with a telecom agent that works with multiple providers at once. Unfortunately, many companies will miss out on the opportunity to reap the benefits of working with an agent because they have been misled as to the value that these professionals bring.
Here are four truths about telecom agents that are not always widely known:
1. The commission based nature of agent compensation eliminates conflicts of interest. It’s true that telecom agents make their money off of referral fees, but the fees don’t create a conflict of interest. First, agents usually present multiple options, all of which provide them with a fee. Second, many agents disclose the nature of their relationship up front so that clients understand the exact situation. Finally, agents receive their referral fee payments monthly. If the end client is unsatisfied and cancels the service, the agent stops receiving his fee. This is a powerful incentive to always put the client’s interest first.
2. Agents help with installations. Because the only way that they get compensated is to keep their clients happy with their telecom service, agents know that they need to get involved in the installation process to ensure that the service gets off to a good start. In fact, the best of them will provide a project manager to help move the installation forward.
3. Agents save effort on the part of the client. Having an agent frees telecom managers from having to worry about the details of sourcing service. After providing needs and specifications to the agent, he will go to the market, find options, and present them to the client.
4. Agents offer the same, or superior pricing, as direct reps. Agents can deliver services at the same price as direct sales reps at telecom carriers. However, since agents create competition between carriers, they can also find different ways to price services to lower the cost to their customers. Direct sales reps who feel that they have a captive customer and who ultimately answer to their employer are less inclined to aggressively seek out their most cost-effective solutions.