Improving Your Business What Customers Want

Value Added Selling – The Only Way to Go!

Customer Service Think Tank hosted by Dell
Customer Service Think Tank hosted by Dell (Photo credit: Dell’s Official Flickr Page)

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.

Improving Your Business What Customers Want

Advantages to Customers of SIP Trunking

SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol and is a technology at the enterprise level for delivering multiple voice connections to a PBX or key system over an IP data connection. In order for a business to utilize SIP they must have a PBX with a SIP-enabled trunk side and their data provider must be able to deploy and switch SIP.

Hot Desk, GTi, University of Glamorgan (Photo credit: jisc_infonet)

SIP Trunks at the enterprise level of the network replace PRIs between the central office and PBXs. A PRI is a dedicated T-1 transport circuit and can support 23 bearer paths for voice, but a SIP trunk connection typically rides an existing data circuit and can be used to carve out as many voice paths as are wanted within the limits of the bandwidth available.

Following are the reasons that businesses want SIP trunks, and thus for carriers to sell them. This list is discusses the advantages for the small and medium business customer.

Saves Money. SIP generally saves money. SIP trunks replace PRIs which are inefficient. It is not unusual for a customer with a PRI to be using only part of the capacity and yet they have to pay for it all since it is a linear product. SIP trunks are typically carved out of a company’s data or Internet connection and can be sized as needed within the constraints of the bandwidth. It is typical for a business to cut their costs at least in half using SIP trunks compared to PRIs due to the efficiency.

More Efficient Use of the Data Connection. Most businesses will already have an Internet connection and SIP trunks are carved from those connections. Most businesses use their data connections in a bursty fashion, meaning there are times of the day when they use a lot of their bandwidth, but also many times when they use very little. SIP trunking can take advantage of the unused capacity in most company data connections. Companies often do not need to increase the bandwidth they are buy SIP trunks and can fit them into their existing data product.

Enables Unified Communication. SIP enables all of the various features that comprise unified communications such as access to the phone system from cell phones or tablets, integrated voicemail and email, video chat, instant messaging and other features that make businesses more productive.

Enables Upgrade to an IP PBX. Businesses more and more want the kinds of features that are available with an IP PBX and IP handsets. Many businesses are choosing to buy an IP PBX to get these features rather than buy IP Centrex from their telco provider. The general advantage for a business to have their own IP PBX is the ability to customize their communications network, something that many service providers do not offer with IP Centrex.

Allows Multiple Locations to Act like One. With SIP trunks and an IP PBX a business with more than one location can have a unified telephone system that brings the data and voice together for all locations.

Any carrier that sells enterprise data service to businesses should offer SIP trunks. Even if you sell IP Centrex, customers who prefer to have their own phone system are going to want SIP trunks.

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