** This article was originally published on CRN.com.
The midsize business market – defined as those companies with 25-100 users, more than five corporate locations, and $5,000 in monthly recurring charges (MRC) – offers alluring opportunities for driving significant channel revenue growth in the years ahead.
The challenge for agents and VARs is helping companies in this sector select communication services that fuel cost-avoidance and revenue generation efforts.
Begin with Basics. Learn your prospect’s unique business and technology priorities and efforts made to solve them. For example, what approaches and solutions have already been evaluated and implemented? This knowledge can define your sales strategy, one that can be used to convert prospects into evolving long-term VAR-business relationships. Earning your wings as the company’s trusted adviser and technology strategist.
Speak from Experience. In selling to midsize companies, you must first explain technology in simple terms (beyond industry and vendor catchphrases and acronyms) to often IT staff-less businesses. Translating this verbiage into business terms is a valuable skill. VARs and agents must then educate prospects on the breadth of service providers with relevant solutions. Identify options available from those brands – not known to the prospect – which possess solid customer satisfaction track records.
Vertical Industry Knowledge. To become a trusted adviser, VARs must understand the unique needs and requirements dictated by the prospect’s vertical industry. This helps greatly in matching services and solutions to specific cost avoidance and revenue-generation needs. While the hospitality, retail, and healthcare industries share basic business challenges, they also have vertical-market specific needs and goals.
Efficiency vs. Revenue. Squeezing greater efficiencies from current operations and avoiding costs is just as important to prospects as is generation of new revenue streams (and sometime more). As a result, those services that take the place of onsite equipment (hosted/virtual) should be popular. Others are focused on widening revenue streams and creating new ones. Some seek both. Most all sorely need advice and expertise on options such as hosted services versus on-site equipment purchases. They typically lack the staff to manage infrastructure and could be candidates for a wide array of managed services.
Service Provider Selection. While agents and VARs have experience selecting top-shelf IT equipment, communications services represent a larger and fast-evolving area of sought-after expertise. Midsize businesses require voice services, internet, TV, and often multi-site networking services. VARs and agents are well-served to begin checking and evaluating local cable companies and telcos and their services, while expanding the service provider circle outward. This investment in knowledge helps establish the VAR as a savvy adviser capable of crafting a tailored services strategy. This precious knowledge base can be updated and re-purposed.
Stay Together. There are several ways to maintain, extend, and enrich the priceless VAR-midsize business relationship. Make certain the prospect/client is comfortable with your advice on service providers and the offerings you suggest. Stay current with these companies’ evolving needs and track change within their vertical markets to ensure a shared vision as you move forward together.
Maintain flexibility in pricing. With economic uncertainty in our current business environment, SMBs are very cost sensitive. For some sales, you may have to lower your profit margins, minimize upfront capital investments, or provide an all-inclusive pricing model to get the deal done.
The Bottom Line. The bottom line is that building and evolving mutually beneficial agent/VAR-business partnerships is about much more than the bottom line. It’s first and foremost about the relationship. Knowledge, educated advice, and a no-size-fits-all approach to business and technology strategy are what companies look for in a trusted advisor for the long haul.
For more information on how to reach midsize businesses quicker and more effectively, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
As Vice President at TBI, Ken Mercer oversees all sales and operations within the organization. Ken is also active in leveraging his extensive network services expertise to consult with TBI channel agents on large enterprise opportunities and serves on the advisory boards for many of TBI's service providers. You can contact Ken at email@example.com or connect with him on LinkedIn.