Holiday Cheer for the Retail Sector

By Dan Foster, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, MegaPath Inc.

For agents and VARs focused on the retail sector, this is a great time to check in with your customers or prospects and learn about projects on their docket for 2010. Likely they will be hard to reach, but when you do, retailers are thinking about their priority issues – reducing expense, enabling customer satisfaction and increasing cross-channel sales flow – and new solutions to help solve them. If your products fit into the “saving money” category, or enhancing security and compliancy, likely the retailer will take a meeting, or even have budget allocated to this.

So what are the hot topics that agents and VARs should expect to hear from retailers this coming year? Convergence, compliance and cost reduction are all a good start. In fact, most people are finalizing budgets right now, and according to multiple CIO surveys, compliancy, security and cost reduction are topping priority lists. Expect to hear your customers ask “how can I converge phone and data traffic into a more robust structure, and reduce cost?” Good news is – agents and VARs have a great answer to that question.

Once the calendar nears mid-January and the holiday rush has gone quiet, it’s an excellent time to ask your retail contacts, “What projects got approved?” and “how can I assist you in sorting out your options?” Projects are likely to look like:

So, if you know a retailer, let the last returns come through in early January, then ask them about their projects. They are likely to say MPLS and PCI compliance, or cost reductions through POTS line and data consolidation. Maybe they’ll even ask for a broad-based Telecom Expense Management implementation to help them manage their vendors. Retailers often run with a very thin IT staff, so the CIO is always amenable to hear about staff augmentation on any one of these projects.

Dan Foster is the chief sales and marketing officer at MegaPath Inc., where he manages the company’s sales, marketing and channel organizations. He has been instrumental in driving MegaPath’s rapid growth to become the leading provider of managed IP communications services in North America with 20,000 customers. Over the course of his career, Foster has helped to grow successful companies and channel organizations while CEO and president at Phoenix Networks and as vice president of consumer markets at Rhythms NetConnections. He received dual engineering and liberal arts degrees from Tufts University and graduated from Harvard Business School’s executive PMD program.He also is a member of the 2009-10 PHONE+/Channel Partners Conference & Expo Advisory Board.

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