Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Data, Surveys and Studies

So I found some older data on FTTH from Calix and Corning that might interest you.  And the VZ FiOS presentation from 2006. Buffalo news article detailing FiOS costs.

The Parallel SMB Cloud study of 2014 is here.

VoIP Logic did a survey of Hosted VoIP. These are some highlights:

  • 67.5% of Service Providers are willing to outsource some or all of their revenue generating technology.
  • Both the selection of telephones and other customer premise equipment (66.8%) and the selection of network type (80.1%) are considered to be very important or crucial to the success of the opportunity. [Note: This is inconsistent with an emerging trend of bring your own device (BYOD) and reliance on the public Internet which indicates that Service Providers might not find BYOD a favorable development.]
  • The three most prevalent services sold by Service Providers who work with VoIP technology are Hosted PBX (61%), SIP Trunking (54%) and Data Networking, which includes IP, MPLS and point-to-point circuits (33.9%)
  • Over a third of all Service Providers (34.1%) do NOT have a disaster recovery strategy that employs geographic redundancy or fail-over in the event of a disruption of service at their primary site. Considering that outage sensitivity is rated as so relevant and geographic backup is highly correlated with uptime, this is surprising. 
  • The three most desirable characteristics when selecting technology for a VoIP service offering are Expected Uptime (33%), Stable and Well Regarded Technology (33%) and Cost (20%). While Uptime and Cost are tangible characteristics that lead to happier customers and better profit margins – and are therefore expected – Well Regarded Technology is aspirational (and, generally, more expensive). 
  • The three most highly ranked characteristics that contribute to a successful commercial strategy - sales and customer retention – are Existing Customer Relationship (52%), Pricing (13%) and Customer Support (9%). These are not surprising – especially among smaller operators who rely on personalized interaction – though the degree to which an existing relationship outstrips all other factors is an important data point when gauging which sales strategies have the greatest chance of success.
Alltop surveyed 100 CSPs globally. "With the migration of data centers and applications to the cloud, and trends such as user mobility and Bring Your Own Device, Chief Information Officers are looking to their CSP for solutions to increase efficiency and reduce costs."  The survey was an interesting look at what is offered to SMB and Enterprise. Office365 wins.


Monday, March 02, 2015

Crazy Ideas Part 5

Some crazy ideas, especially for people selling to residential.

The big problem: people without Internet. They don’t know what they are missing. They may not have a computer (or an internet.

One way to demo is to load up a tablet with apps that show the many facets of the Internet. Not just Facebook and Netflix, but job searches, networking and special interest stuff (like cooking or fitness)

What about giving away tablets or Chromebooks wrapped in a 2 or 3 year agreement like the cellcos?

For people that say mobile Internet is all I need: What about wi-fi offload to prevent data overage charges? Again here, a hardware-broadband bundle might work.

Another thought is to bundle a FreedomPOP phone with your service. It’s free on wi-fi. And it offers a Privacy Phone (Samsung SII) for the fanatics. FreedomPOP also sells 4G mobile Internet via the Clearwire network at very inexpensive rates. 4G backup?

TVs, Roku, Xbox, smartphones, tablets, video cameras, Nest thermometers – just a few of the items that need wi-fi. Give your users a bunch of reasons to have wi-fi!! Your wi-fi.

Training and more training... because not everyone knows how to use tablets, iPhones, etc. Be the Expert.

Frontier Ekes Out More Voice Line Value with Text-to-Landline Service: via Zipwhip. Many ways to add texting to landlines or SMS to VoIP. More ideas along this vein in my article at TMC.

TV Bundles like Roku or Amazon Fire or Chromecast with Broadband. AT&T is bundling HBO with U-Verse. Many channels are online for pay (like CBS). Frontier has a deal for broadband with a Tivo of over-the-air and online content. “The deal, which will kick-off in mid-2015, will have Frontier offering a TiVo Roamio OTA DVR. This slimmed down DVR set-top-box features a digital over-the-air (OTA) antenna for local OTA broadcast signals, access to OTT video content like Netflix, and other features including WiFi connectivity.”

Lessons from Google Fiber's rollout

Find out what your customers want. It may not be TV - especially with the cord cutting. One of my non-techie 30-something friends just installed Chromecast to cut the cable. Many friends watch TV on their iPad. So how many people in a few years will buy a new TV? Not unless it becomes a video calling device too. (Right now it just monitors you.)

Friday, February 27, 2015

2015 Marketing Trends

J2 Global owns a lot of companies including efax, Ziff-Davis, CRM and an email marketing platform called Campaigner. Campaigner "announced the results of its marketing trends survey detailing key industry insights and identifying specific areas of focus for 2015."

"53% of respondents report that higher click-through rates and email interaction are the number one email marketing priorities for 2015." Email is still used for closing sales; social media is for reach or noise.

Marketing today is about salience and engagement. Salience being staying in front of your market as top of mind for when they do pull the trigger on the sale. Engagement being a way to get referrals, give customer care and retain customers.

2 infographics:

How to Grow Your Email Contact List in 2015

Summary of the Trends

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Where to Build That Fiber?

Borrowing a page from Google Fiber, Allied Telecom has asked people to vote on its next route.

It is probably a good idea to get input but you need an anchor tenant for most fiber builds.

On the FISPA list, in discussion about the FCC's order to circumvent state laws in Tenn and NC to prevent muni networks, there was discussion about cherry picking - that muni networks would cherry pick your best customers. Haven't we been cherry picking their best customers for years? Isn't that the very nature of our business?

It seems to me that muni networks are just one more competitor to strategize against. One client has 5 fiber players in his market -- 5 including att, c-link, cable and 2 others!!! That's a bigger problem than one muni network.

If you have been reading this blog for long, you know that 40% of the people buy on price, the rest buy on value. So if you know how to market and sell your services you are aces.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Killer Value Propositions

Your USP (unique sales proposition) or Value Proposition is important for sales. It is the messaging that garners interest from prospects; interest enough to ask you a question ro to listen to your pitch. Here are 2 good slide shows for creating a value prop.

This is a good one.

One is from Jill Konrath, a sales consultant.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What CRM Do You Use?

I polled about 90 Service Providers (ISP, CLEC, Cable and a couple of MSPs) about which CRM they used.

# 2: SugarCRM  includes SuiteCRM
# 3 Custom (DIY)
# 4 Sage ACT
# 5 MS Dynamics
also: Vtiger
The MSP choice: ConnectWise

The # 1 deployed CRM: SalesForce

CRM's that didn't get a vote included:

Zoho CRM, batchbook.com, insightly, Contractually, infusionsoft, and Quickbase by Intuit

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fax Isn't Dead Yet

Why Fax won't die is a decent article on FastCo. It is still a big opportunity. Now bundle efax with there ideas: document management, paperless office, file search and retrieval, data storage and more.

Take the technology out of the way of your customers. Remove it. Offer it as a service like Managed Print

Usually people worry about the price. Screw it. If you explain the service, the pain it solves, how it will deployed and how you will handle the services, 60% of the people you talk to will take it. (40% will shop it or ignore it or put it on the burner.)

Breaking Ground on Security

So many breaches in the last year, including Anthem.

Google is trying to do something about security.

"Google also has some free storage for you, though it’s offering only a measly 2GB of extra space. The company is doing it to promote Safer Internet Day though, so you won’t have to sign up for any additional promotional offers from Google.
To get it the extra 2GB of Google Drive space, users simply have to perform a simple account security checkup by February 17th." [yahoo]

The Google Drive blog is the gateway to the promotion. It is certainly something to leverage. It would be good to piggyback on Google and have a webinar about the Top 5 Things Everyone can do to be safer online.

That's it. What are you waiting for? Send out evites for the webinar.

Eating the Shark

Back from FISPA, re-thinking what Dane Jasper (CEO of Sonic.net) was saying about being a shark, sales, and flipping the model. "Good Local Service is the table stakes." CLECs as a whole are just copycats of ILECs - same products, similar pricing. That doesn't work any more.

For years I said either Layer 1 (own the network - fiber, wireless, or both) or Layer 7 (own the apps). Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook own Layer 7. Microsoft is trying to get it back. C-Link is making a move to own the business desktop with its managed office bundle. There isn't a roadmap to innovation, disruption and plain ole kicking their ass. "Note: Seth Godin says that if you can see the path then you're on someone else’s path."

The LECs have flattened out the market in POTS, cellular, DSL, TV. It's all take away now. Large customer acquisition costs. But as many analysts point out: they suck at customer retention. They have moved to home security and automation because it was an adjacent move. (One, quite frankly, that indie ISPs should have owned, but as usual missed while being complacent. I was yelling about the Converged Living Room at the same time as then-FCC Chair Powell was.)

One of my cable clients talks about the expense to upgrade to DOCSIS 3 is hard to ROI because the best customers -- the ones who spend the most -- are being picked off by DISH and DTV. Regional CLECs have been doing that to the LEC in the mid-market for a while. It is starting to hurt.

Indie ISPs should have owned VDI (virtual desktop) or DAAS (desktop as a service) but they were too busy selling hardware to see that in all other regions globally VDI was growing. Except in the US where partners of Dell, HP, et al were busy meeting Gold Support quotas and doing break/fix.

Fiber to the home (or business) is pretty easy to sell. Google lets it sell itself. It is easy because it is replacement service. Cloud services are not easy to sell, because they aren't really replacements. CRM, Office, backup, etc. are not really replacements. That means that there will need to be education during the sales process, which means that there will need to be a sales process. And salespeople. And a sales plan. Stuff CLEcs and ISPs just aren't used to.

The roadmap: There isn't one. When I look at the 10 companies represented at dinner in NOLA, no two are the same. They may be CLECs but some have fiber/some don't. There is business vs. resi, metro vs. rural, anchor clients vs. fiberhoods, Broadsoft vs. Asterisk, data center vs. not. We are all Weird. Great quote from the book: "The Universe rewards us for showing up and playing big even when you feel small."

If you think of your customers as customers, re-think that. They are your Tribe. They are looking to you to lead them through the maze of technology. What is Cloud? How can it transform my business? How can I compete against Big Boxes? How do I leverage technology to be a 24/7 e-commerce business? Your market wants answers, but do you even know the Questions? When was the last time you talked to your clients? Saw how they worked to see how they use your services and technology?

There is so much opportunity today it is incredible. Honestly, it is right there. But it means doing things differently.

There is that stupid quote about the definition of insanity: "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

One thing to do differently: Right now make a recurring appointment in your calendar to spend 20 minutes per day journaling about your business. That is where it all starts: think about the business instead of working IN the business. And if you haven't done that in a while (work ON the biz) then that is the difference maker, that is the breaking point to get out of the insanity. Do just one thing different today.

Activators will say When Can We Start and have already set an appointment. They are ready to eat the shark.

Go Deep! Sell deep into your tribe, so deep that there is nothing left for another service provider. In my Bundling session, I talked about using strategic partners (white-label) in order to be the one throat to choke for all services to your tribe. Not everyone agrees but white-label is fast to market and makes you stickier.

You just need 300 clients to pay you profitably as an MSP. Just 1000 clients for a WISP. At 2000 a WISP is hugely profitable. How many clients do you need off each CO or on each fiber run or in each township? Not millions. Thousands. A Tribe, not the nation.

If you need help, Make an appointment to speak with me: https://radinfo.youcanbook.me/