Some days ago I was discussing quite a lot with some colleagues about the economic situation worldwide and how sales directors should fight for catching some new deals. After some minutes arguing about this and that approach, some strategies and how be effective in this new market, I’ve decided to write this post.
First of all let’s analyse what is asking the market: Due to the fact that Telecommunications networks are evolving towards next generation architectures, the market is asking solutions that can effectively help operators to Optimize CAPEX ad OPEX. The market is also asking sales experts too, able to recommend flexible and scalable solutions. These solutions must follow standards and be as much as possible Interoperable inside a multivendor environment. Mobile operators are going to implement new shared networks and need a “flat architecture” with Ethernet interfaces. Multi-standard Aggregation is the key.
If we are thinking to go for a worldwide market, nowadays is quite important to have a structured sales organization to be able to have an extremely quick time to market and partnering the customers in the most suitable way, avoiding delays in services and operations.
Some companies are not so lucky to have local companies spread worldwide and consequently they have to trust some resellers.
In order to have the most effective sales approach, it’s not only a matter of pricing, that still is important, but it’s also mandatory to “educate” VARs and business partners on how to stress the value proposition or the products.
The “traditional” retail electronics distributors/integrators/VARs approach is not valid any more due to the fact that the competition is becoming more and more aggressive.
Today we are not only talking about products. We are talking about solutions and key differentiators.
Sales directors and their teams must be incredibly skilled and prepared to discuss with their customers on how their portfolio could fit in their networks. Of course I’m not saying that commercials should act like R&D personnel, I’m saying that they should at least be able to argue quite in details with the customers about technical issues and be able as well to report customer’s need to their project engineers.
I don’t want to spend too much time describing how should be the most effective sales organisation but of course I would like to share some points I consider quite important.
When a company wants to address international customers, after a deep geomarketing study, in addition to the sales hubs/partners located in strategic countries, it should be also established technical assistance and repair/return centres.
Everything should be organized properly depending on the business volumes and logistic (some hubs/centres should be able to operate in neighbours countries if needed).
Local representatives structures should be small and flexible in order to maintain low costs, but they must be well prepared too. Local partners must be properly trained on the proposed value proposition and how they should follow a particular sales strategy.
It’s mandatory to make the customer feel comfortable with a company. One of the main reasons why some competitors are not so well considered is because they are lacking in services and customer support.
Key contacts in a Country must promote products, understand how solutions could be proposed/integrated into new/existing networks. Sales approach must be discussed and implemented locally. It doesn’t exist an “universal” approach.
Last but not least, it’s recommended to study business opportunities with contacts and agree on a strategic account plan. Utilize “best practice” and references coming from previous successful deals.
Customers always want concrete facts, they are too often bored with a lot of words and a little bunch of evidences.
I Hope that these few arguments could give some ideas or, at least, influence someone to think about what is mentioned above. This new Telecom Market is asking us to evolve, abandoning the old sales approach and moving towards a 2.0 level.