Forging partnerships and building relationships in business is important and will be the difference between success and stagnation. Successful partnerships provide further opportunities to diversify and increase revenue streams and more organisations are now choosing to align and collaborate with each other for a common goal.
This strategy is driven not only by the need for an organisation to focus on its own core business activities, but it is also the need to partner with businesses who will complement and add value to their offering by providing specific expertise and knowledge.
Being able to offer additional solutions to the market makes a lot of sense, especially in increasingly challenging business environments and varying business requirements.
It is true for the telecommunications sector as in all other industries, the incumbent vendor has a significant advantage over any prospective vendor when new products and services are advertised for tender. Incumbent vendors are able to forge important relationships, possibly over many years, enabling them to have influence. They also have the advantage of deeper insight into their client’s challenges and needs. This is a strategic advantage that will allow them to act at speed and with knowledge so that they are able to align their own solutions more accurately.
Unseating an established incumbent is not easy, but it is possible. It requires a lot of skill, expertise, tenacity and diligence. You will want to build trust so you can get a better understanding of the customer’s business and its challenges.
Obtaining the necessary customer insight is typically the most difficult challenge. Operational information required is not widely advertised and certainly not in the public domain and can be fiercely protected by employees. It is not always having the ability to solve the known business challenges that will win you contracts, rather, it is the solutions that address the hidden business and generally unknown challenges that will win it. Having the answers to these challenges will be the differentiator in creating business value and will mean that it is possible to move from being a vendor to a value added partner.
Critical in the sales process is for any prospective vendor is to learn about what the business challenges actually are and there are three ways to do this:
- Find an insider, someone who knows everything about the business and is willing to share the inside track with you.
This is an unlikely scenario since employees are requested to limit what information is divulged and typically are subject to strict NDA’s placed on them.
- Work on the account long before the Tender is advertised and identify all the symptoms that relate to operational problems that need addressing.
This scenario, in today’s environment is unrealistic since the upfront investment in sales resources associated with this strategy will be high with a medium probability of success.
- Adopt an indirect sales strategy, the aim of which to help you and your client determine very quickly the compatibility of your two organisations to work in partnership. This approach is more easily implemented the closer your prospect’s traits match those of your existing customers’ profiles.
You have to change the business ground rules, you have to demonstrate your business value with C-Level executives, this and this in itself increases your level of access to upper-management and decision-makers. This is all about building that relationship, gaining trust and providing value. When this is achieved you will be presented with inside knowledge and receive help to develop and deliver the best solution for the client.
Consider conducting a series of interviews with key stakeholders and decision makers to gather specific organisational insight. In doing so, you will learn what their needs are, their pain points and the challenges they face and you will be able to tailor your solution to provide value.
Deploy consultative expertise and technology to help gather data to uncover unknown operational issues that lead to below best in class customer experience and unnecessary business costs.
Relatively inexpensive technology and services are now available to present previously unseen business information from the data sourced from their communications systems.
- Excessive expenditure
- Unproductive employee resource
- Fraudulent activity
- Poor adoption of new technology
- Customer experience
- Event simulation
Presenting rich and powerful insights showing how different areas of their business are performing at the executive board level will be a game changer. It will also remove the incumbent’s key advantages and will neutralise its operational relationships lower down in the organisation.
Advising the client that the technology and methodoloymethodology used in this qualification exercise would be at the heart of the system, ensuring the objectives of the investment would be achieved. This differentiates your sales proposition and make your solution stand out, significantly increasing your probability of success.
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