Between learning The ins and outs of the latest technologies and figuring out how to sell them to their clients, many agents like you may feel like their hands are too full to consider future in the industry. With new developments in technology coming out every week, everyone scrambling to get the latest and greatest in telecommunications technology, and more and more vendor consolidation, your agency business is threatened. Make time to consider your market position now or risk being left behind.
Fortunately, there are easy steps you can take to ensure your agency remains a viable part of the telecommunications industry. Here are six exercises that will help you be a successful agent in todays constantly changing telecommunications industry:
1. Review all current suppliers contracts. Make sure your future income is secure. If it isnt, start making adjustments now. If you determine your contracts arent secure, look for alternative suppliers where you might move your customer bases. Keep a close eye on your suppliers product offerings. You know your market and should be aware of pricing structures and plans that arent realistic. Unrealistically low-priced product offerings can signal a vendors desperation. Dont confuse desperation with aggressiveness.
2. Evaluate your suppliers/vendors. Its likely you have a close relationship with the suppliers and vendors you work with. Thats why its key that you take some time to evaluate whether or not they will survive the move to the next generation of technology. Here are a couple of questions youll want to find answers for:
Working out these issues regarding your suppliers viability in the changing industry will become a major factor in whether or not you survive the next technology cycle.
3. Evaluate your customers. Your customers are your bread and butter, so its important that you take some time to figure out where they are headed with regard to technology. Dont expect your customers to understand how new technologies are going to change the way they do business. Consider your customers changing needs and show them how the new technologies will make them more productive in the future. When youve saved them time and money, your customers will appreciate their relationship with you even more.
4. Form new relationships outside of your core business. Start looking for opportunities to cross-sell other products and establish alliances with other companies with which you can trade qualified leads. One example is working with a copier company. With little effort, a copier salesperson can learn to recognize older telephone equipment in his clients offices and tell you about it or let you know when a clients business is expanding and outgrowing its current equipment. Always be on the lookout for products and services your customers could benefit from. Look for areas where your customers are having trouble or where they are unhappy with their present vendor. Take the opportunity to refer a vendor to rescue them.
5. Look at new ways to cut fixed costs. Its never a bad idea to examine your business and see where you can make changes that will allow you to save money. For example, are you renting or leasing any unnecessary office space? A great way to cut fixed costs is to establish virtual offices, which will provide you with opportunities to use outsourced labor and lessen your real estate costs.
6. Sell solutions not products to your customers. Products in and of themselves are not solutions for your customers. Youll find solutions for your customers when you present them with products whose applications will improve their productivity and efficiency and, thus, improve their bottom lines. Work with your sales force to keep them thinking about your products and services as solutions for your customers, not products to be sold. The extra work on your part will pay off.
No matter what direction the telecommunications industry goes, if you take the necessary steps to make sure you remain a viable part of the business, you can survive and be profitable. Its all about figuring out how to make your skills and knowledge work for your customers in our changing world. Take the time to re-examine your position and you can build a successful business in todays telecommunications industry.
Ty Freyvogel has founded or transformed more than a dozen small and million-dollar enterprises over the course of his 35-year career. In the mid- 1970s, he launched a consulting firm to provide businesses with communication services. Today, 33 years later, his consulting firm (now called Freyvogel Communications Inc.) is still serving the telecommunications needs of Fortune 500 and midsized businesses. His ventures also have included a chain of automotive service centers, a manufacturer of fire extinguishers for racing cars, a process for fabricating limestone, a builder of inflatable boats, voice mail and desktop teleconference services and telephone devices for the deaf. Freyvogel also is author of Its Not Your Smarts, Its Your Schmooze and Seize the Century! He offers advice at his Web site, www.makingsenseofyourbusiness.com.
Attend the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, Sept. 26-28, in Secausus, N.J. to learn more about retooling your agency in a changing market.
|Freyvogel Communications Inc. www.freyvogel.com|