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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Secret Unified Communication questions you need to ask a potential customer

The Secret Unified Communication questions you need to ask a potential customer

  1.       What telephone system do you have today?
  2.       Who maintains it?
  3.       What limitations does it have?
  4.       Are you happy with your service provider?
  5.       Have you developed a road map or strategy to migrate to IP Telephony?
  6.       How well is your current communications solution meeting your internal and customer’s needs?
  7.       Will your network support QOS and bandwidth management?
  8.       What voice applications do you plan on leveraging to increase your productivity and enhance your customer’s experience?
  9.       What consideration have you given to Instant Messaging, Audo Conferencing, Video Communication or Mobility?
  10.       Do you have a mobile workforce?
  11.       Do you have an internal WiFi network?
  12.       What is your Bring Your Own Device – BYOD strategy?
  13.       What are your Top 3 IT Projects this year and next year?

Notes from the Field March 19, 2012

Notes from the Field March 19, 2012

Seems like everyone is trying to get into the TV business these days. Apple is working hard at their new offering (Siri on the big screen?).  Intel Corp. is trying to get their chips into the set-top boxes and deliver their own service to the consumer. Google is pushing hard to also offer a TV offering using Android. 

A new entrant is Cisco. They were already  in the space with the acquisition of Scientific Atlanta as my Rogers Cable TV box boots up with the Cisco Logo but their purchase of NDS (based in London) is to provide software for service providers to deliver content to any device  or the 4 screens -  tablet, Computer, smartphone, DOCSIS or an actual TV.

TV Spectrum Action 700 MHz
Now that the TV stations delivering over the air content have moved or have gone digital the spectrum is up for grabs. This 700 MHz spectrum is valuable as it penetrates buildings better and offers better coverage but also that it’s a new band for the telecom players to utilize as we move towards 4G and LTE.

The Canadian government has set the auction for next year and has made some new rules. The rules will NOT lower your cellphone bill anytime soon if not years from now. The new rules will allow foreign ownership for companies with less than 10% market share. This will help WIND, Public Mobile and Mobilicity to get additional funding that will help expansion across Canada. The new rules also allow at least 4 companies access to frequency blocks in each of the 14 license areas.
These rules will help set a more competitive stage but the well funded Big Three will still take as much frequency spectrum as possible unless the Small 3 consolidate and become the 4th player.
If the government is trying to increase competition and help drive innovation then it may be failing because the Big 3 are already positioned to maintain control and keep cellphone bills as high as possible. (Land Line Long Distance at 5 cents a minute pales in comparison to charging 30 cents a minute on a cellphone). Bell and Telus build their networks together leaving Rogers out of the loop a bit and MTS works with Rogers to have their 3G network (they were still on CDMA a few years ago) working. I don’t see the Big 3 looking to play with the new entrants in any way.

Foreign Ownership Rules Relaxed – Who Wins?

The new wireless upstarts will have their lives extended if they can attract some foreign investment money to help grow across Canada and try to buy up some spectrum.
MTS Allstream is the clear winner on this ruling as it now has an opportunity to unload the troubled Allstream unit to foreign investors. That may then set the stage for MTS itself to be sold off to a foreign investor if Rogers or Telus doesn’t buy them first.  

But a Telus interest seems doubtful as when I was in Winnipeg I roamed on a Telus tower not the MTS towers I expected too. This was great for me as I didn’t have to pay any roaming charges but maybe not so great for MTS.
Allstream offers a world class national  fibre-optic MPLS network and is the ideal footprint for any foreign network provider  that needs additional global connectivity  to propel further growth.

Bell Media Radio and TV

George Cope has pulled off another strategic move as he works to transform the Telco business to a Wireless and now Multimedia delivery engine with the purchase of Astral Media.  With the completion of the CTV purchase last year, partnership with Rogers in the Maple Leaf Sports company, and now this purchase is setting the stage for Bell to be a content delivery and convergence engine company.

Mr. Cope is betting on a 4 screens strategy of TV, Smartphone, Tablets and Computers to deliver shareholder value. This acquisition also sets Bell up with a strong foothold into the French Canadian markets and the ability to own more content than its competitors. Bell picks up French channels, HBO Canada, Astra Media Outdoor billboard division,  a whack of radio stations across Canada.

On-Shore Call Centers

I am seeing a shift in the Contact Center space where those Canadian companies that shipped the call center jobs overseas are now starting to bring them back.
Overseas call centers have not offered the highest customer satisfaction ratings and with increases in agent wages and higher turnover rates (as much as 100% agent turn over)  have made the C Suite reconsider their game plans.
No fault to the overseas agents that work hard and try to offer a better call experience but the heavily compressed Tel co lines, poor audio quality make the call experience a difficult one.
This is great news for Canada as the jobs are starting to come back (while we still lose manufacturing jobs ).
American Express Canada, Primus, Fortis and Sears have all made efforts to bring the jobs back to Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Build Canadian, Buy Canadian and complain to Canadian Call center agents

Apple iPad 3 Mini Review

Apple iPad (the 2012 version which some are calling the iPad 3)  Mini Review
Apple released the version of the iPad and it is comes with several evolutionary technical enhancements.

Retina Display
The display is the biggest improvement. It has better resolution than a HD TV with unprecedented clarity and colour making the viewing experience super crisp. Watching iTunes rentals or Netflix videos is a very sharp experience. I am also impressed with the previewing of images taken with my Nikon camera in a wifi tether mode.

The new dual-core processor was needed to handle the better graphics. The faster app launch times and smoother gaming performance is noticeable.

The new 4G LTE modem chips are available as an option and offer super fast downloads. While this service is not available everywhere it does offer speeds as fast as 75MB. Be prepared to pay $35/month for a 5GB data plan from any of  the Big 3 wireless providers.

The iPad 2 had a low resolution 0.69MP camera which did not produce the best picture quality but the new iPad 3 has a 5MP camera with image stabilization and the ability to shoot 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second. This is an awesome improvement. No change to the front facing camera as it’s used for Skype or Facetime calls and low resolution is fine. The RIM Playbook has a 5MP camera so Apple is now on par in that feature.

Lack of Siri
The Siri application is not available on the new iPad. I wish it was. It is always useful to ask "where can I hide a dead body?"

The price on the iPad 2 has dropped to $399 which is a bargain for those that do not really need a better display or 5MP camera.

For those with a big wallet the 64GB version with 4G and Wi-Fi will set you back $849 plus taxes and Applecare…ouch almost the price of an Ultrabook!

Monday, March 19, 2012

How to Improve your Sales Closing Ratio - Salesmanship Tips from the Bunker

Many sales people I have talked to enjoy their jobs. They enjoy the sales process, the quota, President Club and helping improve their customers business. They are the most happy when they have a higher than average “Sales Closing Ratio”.

The sales closing ratio is the success rate of completing your sales. For example, let us say that you make ten sales presentations per week. On average you make two sales per week. That means your sales closing ratio is two out of every ten, or 20% when expressed as a percentage. The higher the closing ratio is the better. That means more commission in your pocket. I saw some statistics that show the average SCR is 25%. That kind of makes sense since if you have a $2M quota you need a funnel that is 4 times that in order to succeed. 

Factors that influence sales closing ratios are many and include such things as persuasion skills, product knowledge, and physical appearance, level of professionalism, likeability, friendliness, and verbal skills of the salesperson. All skills that can help close sales can be learned by reading books, taking sales courses or workshops, and watching You Tube videos. In the end, the responsibility lies on the salesperson shoulders. Many times it’s blamed on marketing or the customer which in fact they are just doing their job (not advertising the company value or adding objections to every step in the sales process).

So if Sales is a numbers game then the higher SCR you have among your peers the better off you are in the sales rank sheets pinned up on the Sales Manager’s whiteboard.

Here are several DON'Ts that salespeople make that causes a sales to become lost

DON’T deliver a sales message
You need to deliver the potential customer’s buying message not a sales message. Learn why a prospect wants to buy and shape your message to that need.

DON’T Ask basic discovery questions
Too often, salespeople ask basic questions about the customer that they could have answered for themselves with proper research. Instead, seize the opportunity to engage more intellectually and emotionally with your prospect. Be genuine in learning and understanding their business and needs.

DON’T ask about budget
Salespeople often ask about money or budget. This is none of your business and leads to getting off on the wrong foot. Spend your time doing better discovery and the question will answer itself.

DON’T focus on price
“Price is what you pay and Value is what you get”. Price can be a factor but many times it is not so it is better to focus on the value your product or company will deliver to the customer. Sometimes this is the differentiator that plays in your favour.

DON’T Focus on your competitors
It is important that you differentiate yourself, and your product or service, in memorable ways from your competitors. A better approach is to place competitive land mines in your story that will have the customer ask the competitor to compare themselves to you.

DON’T Focus on the ‘pain’
Many times we are told to find the customers pain points and offer a solution. Great discovery will uncover those issues while you build a rapport and relationship with your customer. I recall being in a meeting when the salesperson asked “What is keeping you up at night?”. The customer replied “Afraid that people like you will ask me that question”. The room got uncomfortably silent after that comment.

DON’T spend time with the wrong person
Too often, salespeople meet with a prospect who is not the ultimate decision maker. This becomes a waste of your time, and theirs. During your initial conversations you will need to uncover who is the decision maker and meet that person. Of course the wrong person will give you answers to your discovery questions so they bring value.

DON’T act like a salesperson in a You Tube Video?
We are not out there acting out a part in a movie or role-playing silly sales tactics. Be yourself and take that genuine enthusiasm and interest in helping customers improve their business. Honesty, Reliability and Integrity will set the stage for a professional business relationship.

DON’T forget to close every step of the way
In every step of the sales process it is always important at the end of the conversation to finish with a call to action or acknowledgement to moving to the next milestone. Customers expect it so make the effort to move the deal forward and if that doesn’t occur then it’s a good sign the customer will spend their valuable time with a competitor.

DON’T forget to rehearse your presentation
Too many times salespeople show up and throw up at a presentation. It is important to practice your presentation and seek honest feedback from your peers so that you can deliver a clean, concise presentation to your customers. Remember its Features and Benefits tied back to the customer needs that are the message elements that need to be delivered.

Happy Selling

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rewarding innovation

Start your Innovation engines


The challenge

At BDC, we believe that innovation can help entrepreneurs succeed in an increasingly competitive world. That’s why we have created this award to recognize, encourage and support young entrepreneurs who put innovation at the heart of their business strategy.
We're asking Canadian entrepreneurs aged 18 - 35 (as of December 31, 2011) to submit plans for innovation projects that will either improve their company’s processes, products or services, or their ability to better meet their clients’ needs. Have an idea? Tell us about it. It could be worth $100,000.

The process

To enter the contest, create a short video (1 to 2 minutes) explaining your innovation project and how it will help grow your business. Your video could be your pitch to Canada, so be clear, concise and persuasive. Then, fill out our four-step form and submit your video.

The finalists

Our judges will choose 11 finalists — one per province and one to represent the combined territories. These 11 finalists will benefit from national and regional visibility opportunities.
Then Canada will determine the winner. Canadians will vote on BDC's microsite or Facebook page for the project of the finalist who they think most deserves the $100,000 BDC Grand Prize for Innovation.

The prize

The finalist who receives the most votes will win $100,000 to implement his or her innovation project.
And it doesn’t end there. After the contest, the winner will keep a video journal tracking the progress of his or her innovation project. Through BDC's microsite and Facebook page, people across Canada will watch the winning project come to life. And the winner will get valuable national publicity as an award-winning innovator in his or her field