Peter Radizeski is Founder and President of RAD-INFO INC. He is an accomplished blogalyst, speaker, author and consultant. He has helped many service providers with sales training, marketing, channel development and business strategy. He is a trusted source of knowledge about the telecom sector. His honest and direct approach make him a refreshing speaker.

Look for his innovative ideas and analysis of current technology on his blogs.

Meet him at one of the many conferences he attends and speaks at.

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The SD-WAN MQ (and other lists)

Gartner put out their magic quadrant on SD-WAN – only they call it WAN Edge Infrastructure. This reminds me of when they had to cancel the UC MQ due to premise based systems disappearing – or no one wanted to pay to be on the list. Indeed, Aryaka and Oracle declined to be on this MQ.

UC Today put out a list of Influencers. It looked like a Top Advertising Prospect list that the publisher sent to sales that accidently got published.

Boomers make fun of participation trophies that Millennials received. Yet Boomer execs pay for and gush over their own version of participation trophies. Trophies like Magic Quadrant, Visionary and Wave are worth the price tag, since Enterprise buyers (the target market) can point to that list for CYA when buying from a company on that list. Yet this year companies declined.

Granted this is a PR stunt to say that we are different than anyone on that list, but it also says that maybe Gartner doesn’t know as much about that sector as they pretend to. SD-WAN has always been a garbage can term for 3 very different things: (1) devices that dig CCNA things like failover and line bonding; (2) Orchestration Layer type deployments with CPE; and (3) Network as a Service (which is like selling Managed MPLS). How do you have a single prize in that garbage can?

It’s like UCaaS which no one defines well. It was Hosted PBX, IP Centrex, Hosted VoIP, Cloud PBX, yadda, plus UC&C and Enterprise Collab. A dozen marketing terms, but Zoom and Microsoft Teams end up in the same bucket?

Also all those marketing terms and when the pandemic hits, it isn’t UCaaS that wins. It is Collab and Video Conferencing. That’s Visionary.

I saw a press release today that said, “the leading global provider of mobile unified communications software”. I think CounterPath’s Bria and VZW One Talk would take issue, but maybe they raised their $45M on a Blue Ocean strategy of staking out a small corner of the global UC market – the global mobile UC corner. How would that fit in a 2×2 box?

It is funny how much vendors rely on these awards to do the marketing for them.

Sales Tips in a Pandemic

Now is the time to be talking to your best customers. Get a testimonial if you can. Talk to them about how they use your product and how they use tech. Ask for a Referral; even better Give a Referral. Ask what is working and what is not.

Share the “what is working” as Best Practices. Use the “what is not working” as a task to find a solution. Be that Trusted Advisor for your clients.

Retention is vital right now. And talking to your clients will help you gauge their financial temperature – and perhaps that of their industry. HBR says, “Think about your prospect’s customer.” If they sell to very small businesses or hospitality, they may be stressed right now. (Be Human!)

Selling deeper into your current customers is easier than hunting for new business.

If you have idle hands in the sales department, now is the time to create Prospect Lists – who would you like to have as a Client? Deep dive into that prospect list – adding all that info to CRM. Now create a marketing & sales plan for that list. In addition, Reps must develop remote communication skills – and a plan for every customer interaction. What is the goal of this email/call/video chat? If that goal is a sale, you might want to read the room. “Your needs are not top of mind; cultivate sensitivity to the impact on customers’ businesses, initiatives, teams and families,” states Forrester.  

That takes me to 2 basic questions: (1) Do you know who your target market is? (2) Do you have a Value Proposition?

Sales is about daily activity that leads to ink. That daily activity is to repeatedly contact or get in front your best prospects to pitch them your Value Proposition. To listen. To help them. It is harder now. Cold calling was hard before the pandemic. Here are 3 articles to improve Cold Calling:

You need a Sales Plan for each prospect. Why? “The results of SiriusDecisions’ 2019 B2B Buying Study reveal that buyers have an average of 18 meaningful interactions during the buyer’s journey, divided evenly between human and non-human interactions.”  

One last tip: Brainstorm ways to be Creative!

If you need help developing a Plan, Brainstorming, or crafting your Value Proposition, call the RAD-INFO office at (813) 963-5884. We are also available for Sales Coaching!

Goodbye, Sprint

Sprint should be an MBA case study (or three). Sprint started as the Pin Drop company – the company with fiber and crystal clear voice. Then no one knew what they were known for. There were a series of missteps.

Sprint had a fiber network but it was hard to buy access on it – expensive too. Voice services were available, but try to get it priced!

Sprint was selling Office365 in 2012!

In 2010, Sprint was pitching their MVNO offering to FISPA. Execs from Sprint even came into the AT&T building next to the Fox Theater in Atlanta (despite a protest from AT&T) to pitch the MVNO at a FISPA member meeting. It was too difficult to get a deal done.

That same year, I wasted 9 months trying to order Sprint Mobile Integration service, which integrated a BroadWorks with the Sprint network via an MPLS connection into Sprint IMS. In theory, this service would allow Sprint cellphones to become extensions on the BroadWorks. Great idea. No idea if it worked or not. They just wouldn’t take an order.

Ever since 2005 when Sprint merged with Nextel in a $35 Billion deal, it was all downhill. Despite very good products, a decent network, and a lot of spectrum, Sprint was always losing. Dan Hesse was too happy starring in commercials to put together a cohesive strategy to pull the company together and move forward.

Sprint needed a better C-Suite. The people who held the positions of CFO, CEO, COO and CMO since 2004 were overpaid and under-performers.

The lessons to pull from this are many, but I will hit on three. One of them is that a good (even great) product offering doesn’t matter if the sales process is wrought with friction. Make it easy to give your company revenue!

Take note: there are a few service providers in the channel where this is the case now. The sales process actually prevents a sale. Take the friction out of your sales process! Hire RAD-INFO INC to Secret Shop you. Do you even know what your Prospects & Buyers go through?

Another lesson is to maximize your assets. Sprint has a boatload of great spectrum (the coveted 2.5 GHz and 850 MHz), but they never leveraged it to have the fastest network or the largest downloads or even lease it out for private networks to enterprise or government. Most of the spectrum sits unused.

Let’s talk WiMax for a moment. You can’t always pick the right technology, but how do you keep picking the wrong tech? CDMA versus GMA; WiMax versus LTE. Even phones – EVO, Palm Pre and the last cellco to get the iPhone.

The final lesson: cost cutting may keep your doors open, but you won’t win. If you are behind your competitors, cost cutting will not help you catch up. Once you go the route of cost-cutting, you are forever behind the curve and losing.

5 Tips to Jump Start Q4 (2020)

What can you say about 2020? Most of us are not just Zoom fatigued but exhausted. Here are 5 tips to help you jump start the fourth quarter.

It’s been a challenge of a year, Tip # 1 is Congratulate yourself on getting this far. Many businesses are closed permanently. Seriously, celebrate the small wins – even the obvious win of making it this far in 2020.

Tip 2: Pareto’s Principle says that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. Take great care of your top 20%!!! (You should be talking to your top 5 clients monthly – if not weekly!)

Listen to them. Ask them how they are doing. Ask them What is Working and What is Not Working.  Take the “What is Working” as Best Practices to share! Take the “not working” as a task to find a solution for!

Tip 3 is about Wallet Share. It is far easier to sell more to an existing client than to find a new one. Sell more to your existing clients! How?

Learn one new product this quarter – like SD-Branch – and try selling it to your clients. If you listened to your clients as Tip #2 the product will be obvious. The pandemic has made IoT and Smart solutions (like thermal imaging) a good band-aid in your business first aid kit alongside 4G connectivity and PPE.

Tip 4 is Be a Sherpa! We understand that we need to make sales but 2020 has really been about learning to be helpful. To be Human. To Listen. Zig Ziglar said, “You can get everything you want in life, if you will just help enough people get what they want.” Believe me these things pay dividends because if you are listening and human, they will buy from you when you come around with a solution to their problem.

TEM (telecom expense management) and Mobility Management will be BIG! With all the changes, someone needs to audit the networks along with the bills to find ways to save money and improve things. That could be you – even if you have to get a partner to help!

Tip # 5: Circle back to all the proposals you sent in 2020. Review all the proposals you closed this year and make a list of things customers decided to “Buy Now!” and “wait to do.” Spend a few days discussing lingering proposals with prospects. Find out what changed since the RFP. Try to up-sell add-ons you thought would inflate the original solution you proposed.  Budgets may have been blown this year – but maybe not. Who has budget left for bandwidth, security, managed wi-fi, whathaveyou.

Last ideas: Create mini goals for the last quarter of this year. Review activity from the past 3 quarters to look for trends or things you overlooked. Ask for referrals. Who do they know that needs help to get through year end? Give a Referral! Good luck!

The Rise of Video

Long before Zoom became a verb, people were Facetiming friends and family. There is a whole generation of people who think video calling is standard.

In 2013, I was working for Vidtel providing me a view into the video conferencing space SEVEN years ago. Bluejeans Networks was the big dog back then, sucking up press and $175 Million in investment. Verizon acquired Bluejeans for almost $500M – and has proceeded to push it out through their various business channels including VZW. This is a direct response to the rise of Zoom.

Today, Zoom has “zoomed” right by PGi, Webex and Bluejeans. The next top contender is actually Microsoft Teams, whose 75 million daily active users are able to phone, video, chat and conference on their laptop or cellphone on one app – something Google was late in doing and Cisco made too clunky.

Should companies have seen the rise of video?

In 2015, thinkingphones acquired a video conferencing provider called Fuzebox and re-branded as Fuze. Fuze has raised $200M and sells to the enterprise space (250 employees and up).

That same year, Siris Capital bought PGi for almost $1 Billion dollars. Video conferencing certainly had the capital markets’ attention in 2015!

In 2020, Dialpad acquired Highfive – and Coredial picked up eZuce. Not much adoption took place in the intervening years – except via iPhones.

A few things did help push video calling: wi-fi, broadband, devices with built-in webcams and ease of use. Oh and the pandemic. In a rush to establish business continuity in the face of work from home, video conferencing leaped to the forefront. Zoom was easy and free for the attendee.

Broadband, wi-fi and hardware are better in 2020 than they were in 2015 – and much better than in 2013. Cameras are 1080p, 10+ megapixel and cheap! Nice podcasting microphones are under $200. A Cisco telepresence system was a six-figure purchase. Now Logitech, Lifesize, Jabra and the rest are shrinking the budget on conference room gear while improving the experience with better speakers, microphones and cameras. They even add AI to the experience! All of the enhancements have made huddle rooms and at-home video conferencing possible, easy and frequent in 2020.

The cloud communications folks should have been talking about their video conferencing abilities before the pandemic, but hindsight is 20/20. Often an upstart takes off to disrupt a sector and that is what Zoom has done. Video chatting was enabled on browsers with WebRTC at least as early as 2013. It took a pandemic for people to start using it widely. (I am still uncertain if that is a good thing or not.)

More thoughts on this later.