By Greg Iuzzolino
Those in the business of selling cableco services belong to their own C-suite — that of the Chief Convincing Officer, or CCO. Though knowing and believing in the services that you sell is essential, personal conviction and product know-how are not the only tools that grow and improve sales. In this current competitive and ever-changing market, agents who want to boost their cableco sales can take action to translate their visions into reality. As the CCO, your ability to grow sales is dependent on three factors: your ability to genuinely connect with the customer, your ability to communicate with them through meaningful content and through the appropriate channels, and your ability to express confidence throughout the sales cycle in both the product and in your approach to selling it.
Connecting with customers has little to do with gregariousness and everything to do with the depth of the client relationship. Knowing what a prospect needs — and dreams of — is imperative; along the way, you will be able to match what you can offer with what they want. Though 89 percent of partners sell cableco Internet access services and 73 percent sell Ethernet services, it’s not safe to assume that these are the services that your clients want. In sales, “Everything you do must now build relationship first, drive sales second," advises Kathryn Aragon, author of the C4 Report. "Unless your followers know, like and trust you, they won’t buy."
To build trust, you must know the market and demonstrate that knowledge to your client at the right time, through the right venues and with the right message. Considering that 90 percent of channel partners now are routinely quoting services from cablecos, it’s even more important that you set yourself apart from the competition and establish a meaningful connection with prospects.
Remember that clients count on you to be their trusted conduit for knowledge about cableco offerings. One way to demonstrate your ethos and to simultaneously connect with your clients is to create content — such as white papers, newsletters, blog posts, or reports — that speak to their needs. Considering that 95 percent of customers compare products online, according to research firm SDL, it’s imperative that your product and your message is one that is being compared. What will compel that customer, though, to choose your product over a competitor’s? Effective content. Content will empower the customer to make the most informed choice.
Once you have valuable content, the next step is to deliver that content through multiple online platforms. Like you, clients use social media, mobile devices and applications, and Web resources. Agents should “focus on consistent, integrated, cross-channel messaging," said a study by the Institute for Advanced Studies at Lancaster University. The study, which conducted research with more than 3,000 people around the world, noted that 58 percent of respondents were active on social media.
Be where your customers are and understand their decision-making process. Social media has much insight to offer an agent about a potential customer. Through social media, not only can you actively engage with customers, but you also have the ability to create a full picture of that customer for yourself. “It is often said that ‘you can’t follow a consumer around a store,’" SDL says, “but the information available on social media takes this analogy further, in that you can start to get inside the head of the consumer and understand what they feel about your products or services, their motivations and not just where they went or what they bought." And the more you know about what sites clients visit and when they visit those sites, the better you will be able to deliver your message to them at a time and place when they are open and ready to hear it.
Using social media to better know and connect with clients is one tool; another is using social media and video to build a 24/7/365 sales strategy. Present a virtual sales force. Social media strategist Mason Duchatschek is convinced that videos are the key to attracting and closing sales. In fact, he is so convinced of it that he has created a company that produces online videos on behalf of agents. If you are offering cloud backup solutions, for example, doomsday doesn’t have to arrive in order to pitch these services to clients. Employees who work from home or who travel often — attending conferences, for example — would benefit greatly from the cloud’s backup services; a video-driven, virtual sales force could communicate this message on your behalf.
Finally, be sure to measure the effectiveness of your efforts across all platforms. According to a Channel Partners state of the market report, more agents expect increasing amounts of revenue to be derived from selling cable services; agents, then, can expect their competition to ramp up their sales strategies. Don’t be left in the fray. “Develop strategies and make decisions that put the right device or service plan in front of the right customer at the right time," advises consumer research firm The Nielsen Company. At that moment, you will see all the pieces of your work pay off, breeding confidence for future efforts.
Greg Iuzzolino is director of sales for the Time Warner Cable Business Class Partner Channel. With more than 15 years of sales and management experience, he is responsible for all indirect channel sales nationwide for TWCBC. Prior to joining the company, Iuzzolino worked in various senior level posts, most recently at British Telecom where he ran all of sales and marketing for the N.J. sales region. He has a bachelor's degree in management science from Kean University and is a member of the 2013-14 Channel Partners Advisory Board.
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