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Practice What You Peddle


ITS EASY TO THINK TECHNOLOGIES

will speak for themselves; not so, though. Here are some tips on how solutions providers should be using the tools they sell to hawk those very products and services.

Conferencing.

ILD Telecommunications Inc. gives its channel partners free accounts. This opens the door for channel partners to set up a conference with a prospect and say, The conferencing bridge were using today is a service I can provide to your company, says Camille Andersen, vice president of sales for ILDs RollCall Conferencing Division. And dont be afraid to use a conferencing services features, such as Webinar capabilities, she adds, recommending channel partners offer regular Webinars educating clients and prospects on telecom technologies or policies. This continues to put that agent in the mind of their customer or prospect as a valuable asset, Andersen notes. When the Webinar is over, post it to your Web site, creating another marketing opportunity for your services, and at the same time showing clients another way they can get more value from the Web conferencing solution you are selling.

IP PBXs/Softphones.

Get prospects on the phone and talk to them on the phone system youre selling. Thats the advice from Chris Lyman, CEO of IP PBX developer Fonality. Most companies offer their VARs systems at a reduced price, including Fonality, whose execs encourage partners to take their phones and laptops to prospects offices. Just plug into the local LAN, plug in the phone and youll have a mini-PBX running in a few minutes, says Lyman. The same idea goes for softphones. Use the software to call clients and prospects and, as youre chatting, ask them how the call quality sounds. Let them know youre talking to them over a PC. Discuss the features and benefits, and let the client know you can handle the deployment.

VoIP Gateways/Analog Phones.

When youre out with a customer and you get a call on your cell, show the client that you can accept or reject the call, and that its coming from a remote extension, says Tim Welch, vice president of sales for TalkSwitch Inc., which makes VoIP gateways that facilitate such functionality. Invariably, he says, The customer says, I want that.

Wireless Accessories.

In wireless, the money is in accessories, not handsets. Bluetooth is becoming a very compelling accessory, says Mitch Black, senior vice president of sales and distribution for Brightpoint North America. Brightpoint encourages its agents to use a smart phone, such as the Nokia N91, which is Bluetooth-compatible, has a camera phone and talks to a Bluetooth printer. The customer can use that application right on the spot, Black says, making the sale that much easier.

Dual-Mode Phones.

VoWi-Fi/cellular phones are becoming increasingly popular in and make a lot of sense for vertical markets such as health care, manufacturing and retail. Its hard to understand the benefits of Wi-Fi phones without being able to use them or demonstrate them to customers, says Jill Kenney, executive vice president of sales and marketing for SpectraLink Corp. To that end, she says resellers must make sure they invest in and learn to use dual-mode phones so they can thoroughly show them off to prospects. She further emphasizes the importance of shadowing prospects, such as nurses, for a day to let them use the devices so they can understand how much they cant live without them. The big sales take a little longer to harvest but theyre always worth the effort, says Kenney.

Billing.

Billing is boring, right? Back-office functionality is just another must-have in business that doesnt lend itself to improved sales. Wrong. Consider the monthly bill a guaranteed touchpoint with your customers, says Ron Whaley, vice president of sales and marketing of OSG Billing Services. Adding messages and branding, color and graphics, and inserts promoting other services or offering thank-you coupons to a bill helps upsell and cross-sell customers, especially when it comes to triple- and quad-play services, Whaley says. Billing brings it all together … Customers have increased their revenue by half-a-million dollars using targeted billing techniques, he says. For example, one company included coupons for free ice cream from Ben & Jerrys, thanking its customers for using its services. Other ideas include placing a message near the return address area advertising a giveaway of some kind (plasma TV works well, Whaley says). Give customers a monetary incentive to open your bill (Refer a friend and get $20 off your next bill!) and you will increase your open rates, Whaley says. Such personalization has helped all of the organizations drive incremental revenue, he says, but also has really cut down on their churn rates.

Links
Brightpoint North America www.brightpoint.com
Fonality www.fonality.com
ILD Telecommunications Inc. www.ildtelecom.com
OSG Billing Services www.osgbilling.com
SpectraLink Corp. www.spectralink.com
TalkSwitch Inc. www.talkswitch.com

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