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March 27, 2009
Are you interested in diversifying the types of revenue coming into your company? Are you concerned about your reliance on carrier revenue in this chaotic economic environment? Designing your own products and services can help you:
further brand your company with your customers
establish your presence in the marketplace
potentially increase the value of your company
create new opportunities and markets
drive more carrier sales
With the fate for the future of your company in your hands, creating some of your own managed services can help you take the company to a new level of growth and diversification. However, you must consider the risk-reward equation as the carrier revenue may be the bread-and-butter revenue and highly lucrative. Focusing on product design and development, execution, billing and collecting for your own branded services will require time and resources.
Building corporate networks using new 3G networks is an area where my company was able to build branded services. We bill for these services and receive payments directly from our customers to augment the carrier revenues we receive for wireless activations. The wireless WAN space is emerging, so we have been able to establish a foothold based on our knowledge in the space. However, any agent can create managed services around their portfolio whatever it may be. And these can evolve over time. Ours has. Recently a customer who already was purchasing carrier, equipment and our basic managed services package asked us to become their after-hours NOC, responsible for monitoring, troubleshooting and dispatching techs as required in order to maintain the wireless solutions we implemented in their nationwide network of stores.
Sound interesting? Want to get started building your own managed services? Here’s the secret — there isn’t one. But here are some simple steps we have used successfully:
Listen to your client or prospect. Really listen. Don’t sit there and as they talk, rummage through the files of your mind as quickly as you can, reviewing all the different products and services you are familiar with that can make you money. Don’t lose interest as soon as you understand they are locked into long-term carrier contracts and/or they have incumbent carriers that are unfriendly to the channel or they have no interest in migrating services away from those carriers. Listen to their challenges and pain points. That is where you start in developing a service or offering that can help your client.
Ask your client how they measure success and design your offering to meet those requirements.
Be creative, but stay clear headed. Think out of the box, but develop exact steps for executing your deal with the client.
Embrace process. Be precise as you design the service and the accompanying methods and procedures. Every step counts as this is how you train others to do the job and ensure successful implementation.
Train. You or someone in a leadership position who is close to the customer should understand the job 100 percent, so you can train the trainer and leverage those resources to deliver the service.
Execute. This is where you cannot miss a step. If you do, quickly recover by referring back to the methods and procedures you documented with associated SLAs, so you can take corrective action and refine your process.
Bill and collect. Most channel partners are not used to handling this process as the commissions come directly from the carriers or master agents. Use QuickBooks to manage your cash in and out tightly.
Solicit feedback and refine. We’ve come full circle and are back to listening again. Implement changes as needed. Communicate to your team any changes or tweaks.
A quick way to get your feet wet is to think about what particular service you offer today for free and assign it a monetary value — as a project or by the hour or both. Give this service a name. This will be the first product/service you market. You can either sell it as a service or use it as a deal sweetener to help a client make the decision in moving forward with your company.
Understand the challenges and needs of the market at a macro level, listen to your customer at the micro level, then turn it into a product that you can charge for and execute to perfection. Building a managed service takes creativity and audacity. It’s new territory. Dig deep into your entrepreneurial roots and forge ahead.
Natasha Royer Coons is the founder and managing director of TeraNova Consulting Group, a consulting firm providing fully managed mobility solutions and wireless WAN products, services and expertise to channel partners nationwide. She brings a decade of experience as a former solutions consultant and SC manager advising partners on wireless and wireline products for Sprint Nextel Corp. Reach her at [email protected].
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