Friday, December 19, 2014

Do You Ask This?

Do you ever ask if this prospect in front of you should even be your client? Think about it.

You aren't looking for a million customers. You are looking for 1000, then 2000, then 10,000 profitable customers. Preferably even not just customers but fans, members of your tribe. Wouldn't that be great?

If that is what you aspire to, it is up to you to ensure it by asking the right questions. Like: Is the cloud right for this prospect? If they want the exact thing - the key system replacement - just refer them to someone who can sell them a new key system. If they don't want to change their business flow, then cloud is not a good option.

RapidScale suggests these Qualifying Questions. These are basic for cloud customers.

  1. Do you need to upgrade software?
  2. Do you need to refresh hardware?
  3. Do you have little or no IT department?
  4. Are you in need of a data backup plan?
  5. Are you looking to cut down on CapEx? (Goes back to hardware)
  6. Are you looking to convert to BYOD? (Explain that.)

If they are looking at price, and ask you to meet or beat one, you haven't done your job of explaining your value -- or the customer won't be a good fit because they just want what they have now only pay less. is that a good fit for you?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Outside the Box in CLEC-Land

It is rare that there are stories about CLECs actually thinking outside the box AND executing on it. Here are 4.

In the successful CLEC Transformation model, we tried to fit either EarthLink or Cbeyond in, but folded its cards by selling itself to Birch and the other saw its CEO leave behind a mess reminiscent of a college frat house after the big homecoming party. But in Waynesboro, Va., we might have a good example of a traditional Tier 2 voice CLEC transformed. Lumos has built "an extensive enterprise business in the mid-Atlantic region supported by a 7,000-mile fiber network", says telecompetitor. I got to interview their new CFO at Comptel Dallas 2014 and I can quote Lumos' services.

Buhler, Kan. based IdeaTek Systems Inc. transformed from an ISP formed in 1999 to a fiber provider - selling services to cellcos and enterprises off its 1,800 route miles. It just sold that fiber network to Zayo. And take a look at this website - great look and feel - and a cool message: Human at Our Very Fiber. BOOM! It takes a lot of elements to get to the sale stage - marketing, sales, assets and a proven track record. Those things require an investment of not just money, but effort, execution and persistence.

Sonic.Net is up to something with a new advertising campaign about Fxing the Internet in America [video].

An old ISPCON pal, Eliot Noss of Tucows fame, is in the ISP business. According to the Wash Post, "On Tuesday, Ting Mobile — a small, Canadian-owned wireless carrier based in Mississippi — said it was buying up an Internet service provider in Charlottesville, Va., home to the University of Virginia. The acquisition of Blue Ridge InternetWorks will kickstart new investments by Ting into the town's local fiber optic network, enabling new fixed broadband plans costing less than $100 a month for speeds roughly 100 times the current national average, or 1 gigabit per second."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

UC in the News

Lately there has been a lot of talk about UC, unified communications - that combination of components that allow companies to collaborate, communicate and fill an inbox.

ANPI has been putting out some good blog content including these 7 Pitfalls, Hosted Contact Center stats, and these UCaaS stats from analysts.

This article lists some good Q's to ask Prospects - like CAPEX or OPEX, Mr. Prospect? Any stringent compliance or security requirements? Do you need to deploy quickly or on a temporary basis? Do you want to integrate communications into your business workflow? Do you want a reliable system that is simple to maintain? Good Q's!

Looking at these 15 Trends in IT for 2015, you see that Hybrid solutions will win and that IT staff is being lapped by the tech available to consumers (read: employees).

Dell got in the game with "Dell Unified Communications Command Suite (UCCS), the platform aims to help organizations gain better insights into their UC investments while also breaking down employee adoption barriers..... Dell said its UC Command Suite is the market’s only solution to offer both analytics and diagnostics across Microsoft's Exchange and Lync platforms."

Sprint is partnering with companies on its Complete Collaboration suite with Lync. [see here]

Does Microsoft offer a PBX? Unified messaging expert Richard Luckett explains how Microsoft Lync Server acts as a PBX replacement in this post (registration required).

Monday, December 08, 2014

Sales Planning with Goal Setting

I have been giving a webinar on goal setting since 2009. Year 5 comes with a special gift for my readers. Download the workbook (and an older set of slides) from here now. Even if you don't sign up for the webinar that I will be doing on 12/10/14 at 1 PM ET, you have a full 20 page workbook to go through for both goal setting and sales planning. My holiday gift to my readers.

My slide deck from 2010 is on slideshare. Use it to do the exercise with your company.

My preview deck is on slideshare as well -- but that isn't the final deck. I have changed it every year and I am changing it again before I do the webinar. That means if you have taken my webinar before, this one will be different -- they all are. I rarely use the same deck twice.

Hope to have you on the webinar (REGISTER HERE), but if not, set some goals anyway.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Always-On, Always-Connected World

Germany is debating charging businesses for emailing employees after hours. I'm not sure most people can answer any question with Google and a connected device. But this always on, always connected life has a price. According to CP's Big Think 2015, "Ubiquitous connectivity is taking a serious toll on the mental and physical health of tech users. Documented negative side effects of never being unplugged include stress, exhaustion, decreased mental clarity and weight gain. In 2015, look for more apps that help users monitor their connected time and more company policies that encourage employees to take log-off breaks."

So I am going to blame the extra 18 pounds I have on my smartphone, tablets and laptops.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Skewing Data for Political Purpose

The US Telecom has a blog titled, "Consumers Continue Shift Away From Landline – Regulations Are Behind". Using FCC and state data, it makes a case that landlines shouldn't be regulated. (It also starts to make the case that the ILECs are not incumbents any longer.) In this case, it includes business and residential lines, which is funny to me, since most of the regulations have to do with residential. The FCC's duty is to the consumer. (Stop laughing.)

  1. "USTelecom asks the FCC to forbear from applying archaic regulations that divert spending to narrowband networks and perpetuate inefficient legacy network architectures."
  2. "Clearly the data show that with the growth of mobile voice and broadband-enabled Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) alternatives, it no longer makes sense to classify traditional landline providers as dominant in voice service."
  3. "There was not a single state in which landline telephone service from a traditional voice provider was used by more than half the households — the range was 22 percent to 45 percent with a median of 32 percent."

USTA wants deregulation for LECs. I get that. They want to be deregulated, but still receive favorable status, USF funds, CAF money, government contracts, yet no responsibility as the monopoly and carrier of last resort. Many of the USTA members - like Frontier and Fairpoint - have a large rural base, where they ARE the only choice. As you examine the rest of the USTA board, they are larger RLECs as well - Pockets of monopoly and fiefdom. Yeah, deregulate the monopoly of the communications network that is vital to residents and small businesses. That makes sense.

Kathleen Q. Abernathy is an EVP (of External Affairs & Chief Legal Officer) at Frontier now and on the board of directors for USTA. She used to be an FCC commissioner. You have to love the revolving door of industry and government.


Free Press Disagrees With Findings of USTelecom Study on Title II Regulation (from NECA)

"Free Press filed a letter on November 21, 2014, asserting the study USTelecom filed, which Free Press said purports to say a return to Congress’s Title II legal structure for broadband telecommunications services would cause a near one-third drop in capital investment, is flawed. Free Press argued the study: does not accurately separate out investments under Title II regulation from those that are not; fails to account for investments already made; the basic premise is essentially that investment in the PSTN declined since 2009 and broadband investment increased under Title I; ignores the current massive investments LECs (and MSOs) are making in Title II enterprise broadband services; and reaches a wildly inaccurate conclusion, while ignoring the realities of forbearance."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Special Interests and the FCC

This is a snapshot of just one day at the FCC and just one docket - Open Internet.

  • FCC Seeks Fiber Deployment Information from AT&T
  • Cox Discusses AT&T and DirecTV Merger, Open Internet
  • NCTA, ITTA, USTelecom, et al. Discuss Proposals for Open Internet Regulation
  • NCTA, et al. Discuss Open Internet Issues
  • CCA Asks FCC to Provide Flexibility to Wireless Carriers
  • Open Technology Institute Discusses Study on Wireless Broadband Providers
  • CTIA, et al. Discuss Mobile Broadband Issues
  • Rural Wireless Association Discusses Open Internet Issues 
  • U.S. Cellular Discusses Open Internet Issues  
  • T-Mobile Discusses Data Roaming, Open Internet Issues 
  • WISPA Asks FCC to Consider Interests of Small Providers  
  • GSMA Expresses Concern With Title II Classification of Broadband Services

That is a lot of groups and companies weighing in on how they will be affected by Open Internet. From the looks of it over the past week, cellular companies are experiencing a sphincter tightening over Open Internet rules being applied to them too.