Switching From Tactical to Strategic Sales With Telecom Life Cycle Management

Rather than continuing to beat up service providers for better rates every two or three years, it's time to elevate the buying-selling process to a new level wherein telecommunications is a strategic asset used to drive business growth and revenue.

Channel Partners

August 15, 2012

7 Min Read
Switching From Tactical to Strategic Sales With Telecom Life Cycle Management

By Scott Levy

The number of ways we can communicate as well as the number of vendors that provide those services have never been greater. Rather than continuing to beat up service providers for better rates every two or three years, it’s time to elevate the buying-selling process to a new level wherein telecommunications is a strategic asset used to drive business growth and revenue.

I introduced the topic of strategic versus tactical approaches to selling telecommunications services in a previous article, “Driving Results Beyond the Telecom Audit,” but in this article, I want to give you more information about how to do it and why, by comparing strategic and tactical sales conversations as well as the differences in the outcomes. First, let’s look at an example of a tactical sales conversation.

The Tactical Sales Conversation

Agent: John, how many locations do you have?”
Customer: 15

Agent: What is the current spend for those locations?
Customer: $75,000

Agent: How satisfied are you with your current vendor?
Customer: Not at all.

Agent: What are some of your biggest concerns?
Customer: Saving money.

Agent: When do your contracts expire with your current carriers?
Customer: The end of the year.

Agent: If I could help you save money and provide you better quality of service, would you be interested?
Customer: Sure. What is your price?

Agent: Well, I need to get a bit more information from you, but then can get you a proposal. Would that work?
Customer: Sure. Send me a proposal and we will take a look.

Most likely this tactical conversation or some variation of it is very familiar to you. You gather very basic information none of it related to corporate initiatives and you provide a proposal for basic, commoditized services. In many cases when the prospect wants pricing, the deal evaporates and the prospect no longer takes your phone calls. Now, let’s take a look at a very different, strategic approach.

The Strategic Sales Conversation

Agent: John, you have talked with different carriers over time. How did you measure their performance against each other?
Customer: We would consider their mean time to repair (MTTR), response to disputes and how willing they were or timely they were to resolve those issues.

Agent: How do the actions of your department affect the rest of the company?
Customer: I have never really thought much about that.

Agent: How have the actions of others in the company affected you and your department?
Customer: Well the CFO does not understand the needs we have and so he does not approve our budget. HR does not let us know when employees leave, so we have cell phones that we pay for long after the employee is gone. Many people in the company don’t let us know when they change things and so we are in constant fire-drill mode.

Agent: Do budget constraints override growth and competitive advantage?
Customer: Yes, there are many times they tell us there is no budget and so basic things we require to maintain the integrity of the network are left to chance.

Agent: How does what you and your department do fit into the overall market strategy of the company?
Customer: We recently deployed mobile tablet technology to the field so they would have ready access to sales presentations and ordering tools. This has decreased our time to get and process orders in half and also has increased our average sale because the presentation tools better showcase our products. … ”

This discussion would continue on in a similar manner. The result would not be a commodity proposal as in the tactical example, but likely additional meetings with stakeholders and proposals for services that could, for example, address the interdepartmental inefficiencies by implementing mobile device management processes and technology, or help better position telecom as a strategic asset by measuring the impact of technology on business outcomes. Clearly the strategic conversations have greater potential. Plus, your prospect is now thinking not only about his immediate departmental needs but longer-term enterprise needs, making your advice more valuable to them and other stakeholders in the company.

Let’s take a look at some real-life examples of client outcomes based on tactical and strategic approaches. Let’s start with a tactical example.

Tactical Case Study: TEM

GOAL: The client wanted to save money, streamline the invoice processing and payment functions for telecommunications services.

SOLUTION: A tactical decision was made to buy TEM technology that would be easy to get up and running and would save money, time and effort.

RESULT: The client was not prepared for the amount of effort it would take to deploy the TEM technology. The client’s telecom department had no processes in place, no performance measurement, no service inventory, and had never optimized the telecom environment all necessary to successfully use the TEM tool it purchased. As a result, instead of taking an estimated four months to get up and running, it took 14 months. Taking a tactical approach of buying TEM technology without looking at its full impact on the company cost this client more time, effort and money than if they had left things as they were.

Compare these results to a strategic approach taken by another client that was also looking to reduce its telecom expenses.

Strategic Case Study: TEM

GOAL: The client had audited its telecommunications environment every year and it had also used multiple TEM technologies over the past decade. Each year the auditors found 15 percent savings in their billing, and the client paid a percentage of the realized savings to the auditor. The decision-makers could not understand why the auditors continued to find savings” each year when the company had invested in TEM technology that was supposed to manage expenses.

SOLUTION: Instead of doing the same thing again, the client decided to evaluate the processes in the telecom department. During this “root cause analysis,” the client found that the savings” that had been discovered year after year were due to lack of process. One issue was moves, adds and changes; newly installed lines were billing differently from contracted rates because the same process for installing them was not followed by all the people in the department.

RESULT: The company created new policies and procedures for adding service lines as well as measurement metrics for success. Along with the new policies, new TEM technology was deployed because the previous one lacked a robust reporting function. The client has since documented increased accuracy and a decrease in time to complete orders from 45 to 20 days as well as a reduction in expense by 8 percent, which has been maintained. A strategic approach to controlling telecommunications expenses has paid off in sustainable savings.

Adopting a strategic approach will not happen overnight, but it will happen because it must. Many enterprises consider telecom a necessary evil, but if it’s elevated to a strategic asset driving business growth, competitive advantage, profitability, earnings per share, etc., then the audience, the impact and the size of your deals all change for the better.

If you are thinking that strategic conversations are only for large businesses that won’t talk to small agents, know this: you have the potential to go up against any vendor of any size with any client. I work with some of the largest enterprises in the country. They simply want to know that when they have a problem, somebody is there to take their call and somebody is looking out for their best interests. They often dont get that quality of service from their providers and are willing to give smaller firms an opportunity. Scoring big business is no further away than your ability to build the relationship. Get in the door with just a little piece, exceed expectations and you will grow the account over time.

Scott Levy is vice president of enterprise development at AOTMP, which is a resource for enterprises on telecom management. Levy is responsible for building and managing enterprise client development and is also actively involved in the development of new products and setting corporate strategy. Levy is a subject matter expert in telecom expense management (TEM), wireless mobility management (WMM) and fixed and mobile telecom environment management. His domain expertise in the TEM and WMM spaces extends more than 18 years which enables him to provide insight and business options to clients and prospects.


Hear more from AOTMP’s Scott Levy in the session, “Building New Revenue Streams with Telecom Life Cycle Management,” at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, Sept. 12-14, in Orlando.

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