Dave Matthews Band’s Ants Marching has been in my head all morning.
“When all the little ants are marching
Red and black antennas waving
we all do it the same
we all do it the same way”
Reminds me of telecom.
Seth Godin wrote this morning, “There is no more everyone. Instead, there are many pockets of someones.”
Our industry for the most part counts its business customers in the tens of thousands – 47K, 28K, 30K, 10K – rarely in the 100K. (Yes, RC has 300K+ but the ARPU of $38 suggests that they are all very small businesses or SOHO). Yet we race to market with tech, half-assing it along the way, because we think it is all about the tech. It isn’t. Buyers can give a crap about the tech. They want the outcome or the impact or the benefit, which we usually fail to deliver because we are tech-driven and tech-focused instead of User focused or customer experience driven.
Hosted PBX providers for the most part chase the same people with the same tools (mainly Broadsoft or some flavor of Asterisk). Only a couple of providers have chosen a vertical to climb. They cast a wide net instead of honing in on a target market that they can more easily focus on with sales and messaging.
We live in a world of tech – on the sales and marketing side too – that is rarely seen by the telecom/IT tech side. Today, it is one-to-one marketing, social selling, segmentation, targeted messaging. It’s a bandwagon that has left the station. Catch up!
The reality is (INC5000 numbers do tell) that you will only capture less than 50K accounts. Why not go after a vertical or at least the most profitable customers? When M5 was purchased they had just 2,000 customers, but ARPU of $2K. When AirWatch was acquired, it also had less than 10K customers.
Integration will be the next big trend. We already see 8×8 integrating with numerous software – Salesforce.com, NetSuite, Zendesk, and E-Agent (Allstate Insurance), Zoho. and Knoahsoft and Teleopti. How much software development can each of these companies do?
We are already seeing consolidation (not as much as I thought, but some). There will be more because it is easier to buy a base of customers than to go get them. Customer acquisition costs are high because everyone is singing the same song. Sing a different tune. Don’t be the red ant or the black ant.
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