Today’s guest blogger is Mike Fox. He was one of the founders of CCG and we still work together on a number of projects. Mike is working at Fox Management Advisors and can be reached at (307) 431-6543.
In my last blog I discussed how it is important for your customers to make an emotional attachment to your brand. You want them to think of you first when they are in the market for any telecommunications product or service. A corollary concept is for you to focus on adding value to everything you sell. Many telcos are order takers. By that, I mean that they sell a suite of products that customers know and understand. The customer is already sold. This has been the nature of the telephone business for many years. Furthermore, for a long time, customers really had no choice but to call the telephone company when they wanted telecommunications services. So, we all got into the mode of order taking rather than selling value.
But, the world has changed in this regard (as you well know)! The telecom world has entered a new age. Residential customers are dropping traditional voice (landline) and video (cable TV) services at an alarming rate. Businesses are no longer happy with just vanilla voice lines or trunks. The successful communications company of the future must sell products that are different from what they sell today. These products must be attractive to the new generation of customers. This will force many companies out of their comfort zones. How (and what) do you sell to customers who only want broadband from which they will tie in various Over The Top (OTT) devices like Roku?
Are there additional revenues beyond simply providing the Internet pipe? Of course there are, but they may be harder to identify and even harder to monetize. This might mean selling products like IP Centrex, cloud services, SIP trunks, unified communications, advanced security, transparent LAN, MVNO wireless or a host of other new products. And a decade (or less) from now it will mean selling products that we haven’t even envisioned yet. Some smart guy or gal is in their garage as I type thinking up the next “killer app” for our industry. We just have to be ready to sell our customers on the value of this new product. Not just on the value of the new product, but HOW the new product will be valuable for them.
Selling a new product that customers don’t fully understand requires different sales skills. You need to educate the customer on the benefits of the new products – i.e, consultative sales, which is quite different from order taking. Consultative sales means sitting and understanding what the customer most needs, and then offering a package from the suite of possible products that best fits the customer’s needs.
Actually, the very first step in selling a new product is for you to understand the VALUE PROPOSITION of each product in your portfolio. The value proposition means knowing how a product will benefit the customer. You cannot sell new products just by showing that they are new; unfortunately, many sales people take this approach and try to sell the ‘cool’ of the new product rather than the value. You have to show the value and make the customer understand how this new product or service will make their life or business better.
Finally, in order to understand the value proposition you must know your customers well. As I said in my previous blog, make them part of the club. Get to know them, and encourage them to get to know you and your company. Basically, you need to get out and talk to your customers. Find out what they are looking for, what excites them, and what their needs are both now and in the future. Once you understand those needs you can craft products and services that will provide what your customers want; and you will have built the foundation to support a strong, loyal customer base.