Here’s a short video explainer for Koopid.ai – and we’re exhibiting at the Call and Contact Centre Expo at the Excel on March 18th and 19th, so please come and say hello and learn more. This could be what your customers have been waiting for.
I’d start from the premise of aiming to sell more things to more people. In practice this can result in a range of actions. One of those can be a cooperative sales motion and one could be to expand your portfolio, so that your clients can source multiple products and services from you. If they’ve already bought, they’re likely to buy from you again. Cooperative selling is where you’re partnering with another similar business with complementary offerings and you simply look to sell to each others’ client. I’m seeing a marked increase in this latter approach.
If you a bereft of ideas or simply feel are stuck – drop me a line. Always happy to help
Whatever your perspective, I think we would all probably agree, that for the IT and Telecoms reseller, things have certainly changed, and continue to do so. The vendor landscape continues to evolve too, with new vendors appearing, with innovative offerings, and many established vendors consolidating as they vie for position in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
For the consumers of the technology (the customers), things are forever changing too. Factors affecting their businesses are arriving at such a pace, and with their business cost base being under constant pressure, many are running on very lean staffing numbers. This compounds to effect somewhat.
What we have is more change and a greater pace of change, more vendors, more innovation, fewer staff, greater challenges and the same amount of time in each and every day.
How does a business stay on top of all of this and remain current with technology that can give them an advantage, or stop them being exposed, as well as attract and retain staff as a great place to work.
In life, and in business, for me, it’s about relationships – building trusted relationships, where over time you can outsource some of this to a specialist or specialists – ensuring you can focus on the business of running your business – and generally, the smaller specialist businesses are more likely to offer you the long term relationship building opportunity, as they are more often than not, owner-run and they are therefore unlikely to leave the business to work at a competitor, leaving you with the what to do dilema.
Vendor accreditation programmes – who are they really for?
2. Channel partners?
4. All three?
Why does a customer care if their supplier is accredited by the vendor of the product, solution or service?
Why does a channel partner care whether they are Bronze, Silver, or Gold certified?
Why does the vendor need to create training and certification material, courses, tests etc?
It all sounds a lot of work, so why does anyone bother?
There must be some significant value in order to motivate everyone to care enough to get engaged – so what is it?
Customers are what this is all about! Customers require good advice from well informed representatives from the channel community and the channel community cannot rely on the resources of the vendor at every engagement they have, so the channel partners need to become equally well informed – This requires training and testing, which is great for the vendor, because they end up with well informed channel partners representing them and provides the scale required to develop more market coverage. In addition, an accreditation programme usually has a volume\revenue related metric, which rewards the successful sales partner – more of a value component than a quality component and an often thorny topic for engineering heavy partners with lots of skills but not too many new sales. Customers are usually able to see for themselves what partner accreditations are for channels and select based on a value\quality blend. In reality most customers want to know they will be well looked after rather than well sold to.
For the vendor, an accreditation programme provides a sense for channel partner commitment levels and focus on their portfolio, and training enables current knowledge to be maintained and product knowledge to be broadly well ingrained. The more a channel partner commits to one vendor programme, the less time and resources they will have for competing offers – stands to reason. So vendors see this as an important dynamic for developing partner commitments. Ultimately this enables scale and quality delivery for the customers and commitment for the vendor, with the reseller having the ability to wrap services and complementary products to their solution.
Like all walks of life – work, sport, school – if you are practicing the wrong things, or the wrong way of doing something, you are simply repeating your errors over and over – frustrating and clearly limiting your success.
So how do you stay on track with the right things to practice? Clearly a good start point is to exercise good self discipline. This is the foundation for any personal development. Thinking that the issue is “not my fault” and the issue is caused by something “out there somewhere” is a sure fire way to have reduced control of your life. The first step therefore is to take control of yourself and your discipline including your thoughts and “self-talk”. Be sure to catch yourself talking positively with a “can do” attitude, and stop the cannot do and self limiting speak.
Finding a good coach is a smart step too – whether this is within your current role or an objective outsider. A good coach understands that as an individual, you already have all the necessary resources available to you, but they are the difference, that makes the difference.
For example, if I’m playing golf and struggling to get the results I desire, it probably makes sense to have a coach watch what I do in order to help reflect the areas for improvement – I recall this very real example where the golf pro explained to me (after watching me for a while) that he saw the problem with my game. He noted that I was trying to hit the ball…. Seemed initially to be a ridiculous comment…on closer inspection however, he was absolutely right. He went on to explain to me that if I swing the club, the club will hit the ball…. He moved my focus away from my desire to knock the ball into next week (and missing badly), into simply swinging the club accurately and all would work out.. On this occasion, I saw an instant improvement, but of course, the challenge is to keep making those improvements regularly and being consistent. This is something that your coach can bring to your performance.
This same coaching approach will produce a similar effect in sales. The challenge is that many sales managers and business owners are not well equipped to fulfill his role, so your best option is to find an external coach and develop the right habits.
Digital transformation means many different things to different people and there is a glut of offerings in the market currently that promise you a life of luxury if you take their latest solution for your transformation journey. One of the most impactful solutions that I have witnessed is one I will write about here; It’s from a vendor called Nureva and is available exclusively here in the UK from distributor Ascentae.
Nureva Span is a cloud-based software (and hardware) solution – simply a licence that enables collaboration on any device anywhere you can connect to the internet.
Well this is the really cool part (as if that wasn’t already cool enough) – Span is a virtual canvas – a virtual white board that allows users from wherever they are, to write, draw, or place virtual Post-IT™ notes onto the virtual board. Share desktop content, add comments with virtual INK, and even follow other users who are leading a discussion – so you are quite literally ALL ON THE SAME PAGE. All users connected to the “canvas” see all of added content and contributions, as you would if you were all in the same office sticking physical notes onto a physical wall and writing comments with a marker pen.
Because this is a virtual canvas, there is no issue with Post-IT™ notes falling off the wall, or the issue that many security conscious business experience, in that the physical office with the physical Post-IT™ notes must be secured when empty and cannot be accessed….. With Span, you simply close the canvas and it is secure.
Take this to another level, and SPAN can be used on physical touch screen panels – multiple panels connected in software to provide a scrolling wall covering of virtual canvas. Huge real-estate for collaborators to work together on, in the same location, joined by remote participants in other locations with similar hardware components, or sat on a lounger connected via Wi-Fi or 4G on an iPad or similar device…..
This opens so many possibilities for commercial enterprises as well as for education – imagine a collaboration session finishing without the need to take your smartphone and take photos of the walls for some poor sole to spend several hours deciphering and writing up to share amongst the collaborators – That is digital transformation
Interested to learn more or perhaps have a demonstration – then drop me a note and I’ll be happy to arrange
I was musing language (as I often do) again today and thinking about the initial engagement in any situation, but probably I was thinking mostly about the very first engagement in a sales situation. This could be a conversation, either by phone or face to face, or more often these days, an email or other form of non-real time communication. Whatever the channel, I was considering the impact of language and in particular the meaning that the recipient makes of the words and structure of those critical first few phrases. I am a firm believer that the conversation needs to be about “the client” and not about me and more importantly what the purpose of the contact is! This thought process led me to consider the positioning of the potential relationship and the consideration from the recipient’s perspective as to whether this was at all important at this early stage, or actually at all.
Inevitably when language becomes mainstream, or commonplace, it loses some of its caché and “advantage” (if it ever had any), and can become almost counter-productive as we see it as “hackneyed” or over-used, and this could be the case if positioning yourself as a partner – rather than just another supplier.
I like to seek out relationships whereby my value can be of real benefit to a client and that is all about “valuing the difference”. In this case the difference is the particular skills and knowledge I have acquired over many years in the telecoms and Unified Communications space, and that which can be of use to the client. I might frame this as me being a “partner” rather than a supplier, i.e. my value is not about a race to provide the lowest cost items, but about taking the stress out of understanding the options and possibilities as well as the unique aims and business values the client holds dear. Marrying these pieces together and considering the real business value of the solutions available merits additional value, which is often unappreciated. My view – for what it’s worth is that if you are investing in a technology that is dynamically changing and evolving, and competitive with multiple strong vendors in the race, then looking way beyond the investment is critical and a trusted advisor relationship is definitely desirable – But what do I know
UC is a philosophy and a culture underpinned by technology. It’s about communications and collaboration which are people centred rather than technology lead. UC is a journey towards a better personal and customer centred environment, that is not about just a technology refresh or buying new. As there is no universally accepted definition, this presents a challenge of common understanding in discussion, which can be overcome by simply investing a small amount of time to work back from a future vision to a current position. In doing this, the language can be neutralised as a potential barrier to common understanding. One of the key challenges beyond the definition is that of “baggage”. What I mean by this is that we are all a product of our experiences and whilst in many or most cases this can be a real asset, in the world I am discussing here, I see it as a potential pinch point. My rationale here is that telephony in particular has worked in a certain way for many years and in particular PBX functionality has been somewhat staid, and most people still use telephony in the same way they always have:
* Phone rings
* Answer phone (if you’re lucky)
* Conversation and perhaps transfer or enquiry
* Terminate call
* Pick up handset dial number speak and disconnect
Now when you start to shift your thinking – the whole communications experience can become enriched and the process cycles reduced. In the above examples, there are often additional actions that will take place after the call, such as an email will be sent to support the call, or to confirm the conversation or a document is shared via email. With a UC solution such as Microsoft Lync, the experience could look more like this:
* Lync client alerts to inbound call
* Click to answer and talk on your headset – hands free
* Caller shares a document with you and a focused conversation takes place
* You decide to bring in a third party who works for a different organisation, but because you federate your presence status you can see (using the rich presence capability) that they are free so you can simply “drag tham” into the conference.
* The call continues and you need to leave the office you transfer via a mouse click to your mobile device and continue the call * Whilst in the call, you send an IM message from your mobile to your colleague to ask a question not for general consumption, and get a response in seconds
*Call terminates and the project is advanced.
* You want to convene an ad-hoc conference call so you click on meet me and add the participants from your lync client.
* Meeting commences as colleagues join you record the call and share the recording for others as reference point to agreements and actions and whilst on the call schedule the follow up.
* Call ends and project is progressed
This is a paradigm shift in the way we think about communications and collaboration and has to be experienced to be really appreciated but for sure it is a move in the right direction. Why not check it out – you will be glad you did…
What’s in it for me? And What are you going to do to help me? These are just two of the key questions any potential channel partner will be asking, presupposing that you can get an invitation to meet in the first place. How quickly can the new partner generate profitable revenues, and who will assist them to price, win and implement their initial sales? Next steps are to really build a significant revenue stream together and manage the support issues and obvious cash management challenges, notwithstanding the “hygiene” factors of ongoing training and relationship- building ongoing trust and goodwill. It is a worthwhile journey if you are committed to this path. One word of caution- don’t do this if investing is something you are trying to avoid – you can’t build success by “allowing” partners just to have access to your offering. You may make a few opportunistic sales, but you won’t build a business.