Prospects and Pitfalls of Out-of-Footprint Selling

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…of footprint,” said Brian Rose, senior director, product development, Cox Business, during a Light Reading conference.

Mediacom Business, with cable properties primarily in the Midwest, increasingly is relying upon channel partners to get alerted to in-territory and out-of-territory customer opportunities, according to Dan Templin, senior vice president, Mediacom Business.

The only reason that cable providers serve separate territories is that most still are tied to individual franchise areas initially set up to establish cable TV service. Cable franchises are not exclusive and incumbent operators sometimes face competition from overbuilders, but most enfranchised companies have sought to avoid the cost of construction involved when invading another cable territory. The internet cloud enables cablecos to break their bounds and provide services nationally or even globally.

“The idea of ‘we’ve been given a franchise and put some kind of boundary around it and nobody else is allowed to play in our space’ is going away quickly,” Templin said.

Similarly, when it comes to delivering business services across service territories, the “us versus them” mentality between cable and telcos is starting to dissolve. Cable and telecom providers are transforming their relationship from one of friends versus enemies to frenemies in order to jointly serve customers.

“Traditionally there’s been two labels: you’re either us or you’re the competitors. Those labels don’t apply,” Templin said. “I have people I buy and sell from that also are competing with me in my same market. It’s an odd situation from a classic cable perspective but the reality is that’s the competitive nature of the business services market.”

Some Tier 2 and Tier 3 cable operators (aka the little guys) have voiced concerns about virtual overbuilding by larger providers. On the other hand, those small companies may not have the wherewithal to provide SD-WAN or other products on their own and may be open to wholesale relationships with larger providers. In certain respects, the smaller cable companies become channel partners for the larger companies.

Many channel partners want more cross-territory sales opportunities. In the new 2019 Cablecos & The Channel: State of the Cable Market survey, partners ranked 19 channel program attributes in order of importance to their business. The second highest-ranking attribute is “access to multiple cablecos through one agent agreement,” a capability that could facilitate cross-territory selling.

Serving business customers through multiple providers can be challenging. Who owns the customer and who has primary responsibility? For large customers, SLAs must be uniform and enforceable no matter which companies are involved. Put more simply, when something goes wrong, customers want one throat to choke.

Cable providers have been developing customer portals, quotation engines, mobile apps, service assurance platforms and other digital tools to support multi-provider pre-sales processes and post-sales..

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