(pictured above: SimpleWAN’s Erik Knight on stage, Nov. 6, at The Alliance Tech+Connect in San Antonio, Texas.)
THE ALLIANCE TECH+CONNECT — Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) can bring massive value to business customers, but many of those prospective buyers don’t know what SD-WAN is.
SimpleWAN CEO Erik Knight told an audience of partners on Monday that selling SD-WAN requires a very consultative approach. He said that in most cases, customers are either trying to find out what SD-WAN is or are looking to address a more specific need in their network.
“People aren’t searching for for, ‘How do I buy SD-WAN? How do I find an agent? How do I buy hardware for SD-WAN?’ They’re not searching for those things. They’re looking for, ‘What is SD-WAN?’ It’s a marketing term. They don’t understand the value of it quite yet,” he said.
SimpleWAN is one of five SD-WAN suppliers presenting at the Tech+Connect 2017 conference this week in San Antonio, Texas, where a select group of partners are getting a crash course on sales and technology. Bigleaf Networks, CenturyLink, Tata Communications and Comcast Business also pitched their SD-WAN services to the audience.
Knight said the seller can help the customer better understand the technology by thinking of it as a delivery platform.
“So the sale becomes: You put in one box to replace five boxes, and that box is a service delivery center, so whatever the next thing they need is a service. It’s a checked box,” he said. “So traditionally when a new product comes out like SD-WAN … the next thing won’t be a product. It won’t be a rip-and-replace. It will be a checked box in a system. The most painful thing about an SD-WAN deployment is the rip-and-replace.”
The SD-WAN pitches followed the afternoon keynote from Stu Kolinsky, vice president of sales for IPFone, who discussed the habits and characteristics of great sales people. Kolinsky, who went to dental school before finding his passion in sales, offered up an exhaustive list of sales advice. The more self-evident piece of wisdom was to be a good listener.
“Everybody knows that sales people are notorious for wanting to talk instead of listening,” Kolinsky said. “We just wait for our turn to say what we want to say.”
He encouraged partners to stay up to date on information in their industry. While media and seminars are important sources of knowledge, Kolinsky said partners will find a gold mine of information in studying the prospective customers who didn’t buy from them — and their canceled accounts.
“I want to know why someone didn’t want to buy from me. It’s a shameful and very hard thing to do. What did I do wrong? Why did you choose the other person? There’s a slim chance that they’re going to turn it around and say, ‘I’m glad you asked. We’re going to go with you now.’ That doesn’t happen, but the best thing that could happen is, they tell you and you’ll know for the next time not to do what occurred,” he said.
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