By Pete Engler, Channel Marketing Manager, Digium
A colleague recently attended a business technology conference and had a chance to listen to
A survey by Webtorials revealed that 75 percent of enterprises have deployed UC to some degree, with 21 percent indicating they had implemented full deployments. The businesses partially deploying UC are doing so in a trial phase and expect to eventually integrate completely. Regardless of deployment strategy, it’s worthwhile pointing out that the business (as a whole) looks at UC differently from that of an individual employee – there are different behaviors driving the decision to implement the technology. The business is centered on examining the total value of UC in employee collaboration with coworkers and clients, and understanding the costs associated with each feature. Is it really worth the cost to implement all of the UC features? Whereas, an employee’s behavior, or interest in UC, centers on usability and the ease of specific UC applications to get things done. In other words, what can UC do to make his job easier? The combination of these two behavior types leads to the decision of a company’s need for full UC integration.
With UC providing so many efficient and beneficial features, and three-quarters of businesses deploying UC to some degree, how can value added resellers (VARs) stand out in such a thriving market? The possible answer, or at least part of it can be found in that quote I referenced earlier about technology and behavior. A VAR should first consider a company's behaviors and needs. It’s not just a matter of pushing the idea of having “modern communications” technology on a company with the hope that the company will change its processes to accommodate the use of UC. A VAR could spend countless sales cycles trying to convince decision makers to run their business differently by touting huge UC toolkits overflowing with features. Alternatively, the best practice is to match a company’s time-tested processes with specific UC features; and demonstrate how UC will make those existing business processes more efficient.
Take video calling as an example. Video calling is cool and unique. It can allow people to connect on a different level than voice calling, adding greater depth and dimension to a conversation. But would this UC feature alone make a company more efficient? Would it add value to a company or to that company’s customer? The real answer ultimately depends on what problem the company is really trying to solve for themselves and their customers. If that particular feature isn’t a good fit, a VAR should not expect a company to invest in a UC feature primarily for the sake of saying they have it or can utilize it.
Rest assured this is not advocating for the abolishment of a full-featured UC solution. Rather it is challenging VARs (and vendors) to rethink how UC is sold into businesses. VARs must spend the vast majority of their sales time in discovery, examining behaviors and searching for every pain point that a business is struggling to overcome with their current communications system. Determine behaviors and pain points, then and only then, should the technology be brought in to solve that business problem.
For example, let’s focus on a specific businesses behavior. When talking to a business about their pain points, let’s say that two things are discovered. One, the company is spending way too much money on travel. It’s part of an effort for their salespeople to build more personal relationships with customers, but it’s proving to be expensive and time-consuming. Two, the company believes that their internal meetings via conference calls are very unproductive; and they believe the reason is that no one is paying attention. People are on the call, but they are doing other things and not truly engaged on the topic at hand. In these two examples, the perfect use case for video calling and conferencing has been discovered. Video calling will allow the company’s sales reps to get that much needed face-to-face interaction with their customers – without leaving their desks; and video conferencing can also enhance the engagement levels during those internal company meetings.
In this case the VAR has shown a company how to significantly reduce travel costs while continuing to build personal customer relationships. And, the VAR has helped assure the owner/manager that video conferencing will keep her staff focused on the topics-at-hand and increase the productivity of those internal conference calls. Now, instead of video being this really new and cool tool that a company may or may not need, the VAR has used the company’s current pain points to illustrate that this “cool” UC feature can actually save the customer thousands of dollars, and help increase productivity in a very specific way.
UC is changing the way that countless companies are communicating with their customers, employees, and vendors. There is no question of the positive impact it has had on the productivity and connectivity of companies that have already taken advantage of it. The key to continuing to drive the deployment of UC and grow revenue for a VAR is to focus time and energy on discovering business behaviors and revealing pain points to match the UC features that solve that pain…. and then, let the company’s behavior drive the demand for technology.
Pete Engler is the channel marketing manager at Digium, a business communications company based in Huntsville, Ala., that delivers enterprise-class Unified Communications.