article

Making Money in Wireless

The communications world is beginning to revolve around the wireless handset. That migration represents a significant opportunity for channel partners provided they are willing to make some adaptations to their business model. Fortunately, for business-to-business dealers, the investment to get into wireless is relatively low. They already have feet on the street and they dont necessarily need to open a retail location to serve consumers. Thats about $75,000 in avoided costs.

That doesnt mean there is no investment required, however. The biggest investment they have to make is in training their people to sell wireless to the business-to-business customer. If you are not dedicated to understanding how to sell wireless, getting into the business is a waste of time. No one will buy from you. (Would you buy a wireless data card from a guy who does it as a part-time job? Probably not.) Business buyers are looking for salespeople who have expertise and can help them select the right products and services for their needs.

If you are in wireless today, you have got to understand mobile data, mobile imaging and mobile music. These three areas are dominating the wireless scene and are all dependent on high-end devices that, frankly, didnt even exist four years ago. Its all new. This means there is an information gap and a need among users for advice from wireless dealers who not only understand the network plans, but the equipment, peripherals and applications for these technologies in general business and vertical market applications.

Heres a case in point: A friend of mine, a business owner, wanted to implement a mobile application wherein his sales team would be outfitted with smartphones that they could take on-site to client visits. While there, they would take photographs with a camera phone of a warehouse, upload the photos to a CAD program at headquarters and have the in-house engineer design a preliminary conveyor system and generate a proposal for the salesperson to present during the site visit.

My colleague basically knew what he wanted but was looking for someone to help him select the right products for this application and train his sales team on how to use them. He went to a couple of retail stores and found no one there who could advise him. What he needed was someone who could ask him some intelligent questions, understand the application and recommend product. He couldnt find a competent, knowledgeable salesperson, so he ended up purchasing the gear at an online retailer.

It was a very large sale and an opportunity missed for a wireless dealer with consultative sales skills. Therein lays the rub. A wireline channel partner who knows a bit about wireless, but who is not an expert, is not going to be any more helpful in this situation than the uniformed retail sales associate. So while the gap is easy to identify, its not so easy to fill.

Businesses need advisers who can help them in the following areas:

  • Understanding the problems they want to solve and purchase objectives.
  • Sharing knowledge of how similar businesses utilize wireless technologies.
  • Selecting the right product(s) and price points for their needs.
  • Helping to identify the right peripherals (printers, memory, etc.).
  • Demonstrating how the products work.
  • Following up after the sale to answer questions and offer additional training if necessary.

Instead, most sales reps today are price- and promotion-focused, rather than value-focused. They rarely dig deep enough to really understand how a customer will use their phone and very rarely demonstrate the capabilities of the phone. For example, a customer who purchases a camera phone will have a tough time finding a salesperson who will show him how to take a picture and transfer it off his phone.

While product-centric training is available from many vendors and carriers, solution sales training is harder to come by, but essential. Dealers should look into online training resources offered by CyberScholar.com, the Consumer Electronics Association and the Wireless Business Owners Consortium (WiBOC.org), or hire a training company like Corporate Dynamics Inc. that specializes in wireless.

The biggest mistake a wireless dealer can make is to get into the business and not train its salespeople. If you dont train your people in todays wireless environment, you lose, period. If you properly train your people, the payoff can be huge. There are big commissions to be made, particularly in the business-to-business space where each deal has higher profit and multiunit potential.

Mark Landiak is president of Corporate Dynamics Incorporated (CDI), a Chicago-based training and consulting firm. For the past 17 years, CDI has specialized in helping wireless carriers, manufacturers, master agents and dealers increase sales, retain customers and profitably grow their businesses. He can be reached at mlandiak@corpdyn.com.

Looking for More
Making Money in Wireless

To find out more about making money in wireless, attend the Channel Partners Conference & Expo. Mark Landiak will lead a Fast Track session, Making Money in Wireless, at 4:30-5:20 p.m., Sept. 26. For details, visit http://channelpartners.phoneplusmag.com/secaucus2007.

Links
Consumer Electronics Association www.ce.org
Corporate Dynamics Inc. www.corpdyn.com
CyberScholar www.cyberscholar.com
Wireless Business Owners Consortium www.wiboc.org

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The ID is: 71243