by Paul Caffrey, senior cloud solutions consultant, MJ Flood Technology
I have spent the last six years of my IT career in MJ Flood Technology, providing white glove, pre-sales Microsoft consultancy to a large telecommunications company (telco) and its clients in the UK.
During this time, I have seen a dramatic shift of mind-set from clients towards the cloud, and witnessed first-hand the declining revenues of the telco industry, contract resign after contract resign.
Clearly, clients see the business value in moving infrastructure, apps or other services to the cloud. Many choose their trusted IT service provider to do this for them but more and more, they are turning to their telco as a one-stop-shop for help and advice to address all their communications needs – including cloud.
It’s difficult for telco’s to compete in this space, moving from a traditional model of selling mobile or fixed line connections to more complex ICT services. But it is possible and time and time again, three critical success factors consistently emerge, that help telco’s compete and beat traditional IT companies to win lucrative cloud service contracts.
Sometimes they are exhibited by one individual and on larger projects these skills are demonstrated by a few members of the engagement team.
- Excellent account management is a must
In the mid-market space, a telco is at nothing if the account isn’t well managed. It doesn’t matter if the client badly needs the service and if the telco is looking to heavily subsidise it. No technology solutions will be considered unless the mobile account is managed correctly.
- Authoritative pre-sales consultancy and value proposition required
Once the account is in order, the second hurdle that must be jumped is the actual value proposition of the service and the credibility of the solution design. This is the role that I provide as a pre-sales consultant with my current telco.The value proposition we provide is industry leading and our ability to design complex solutions and deliver migrations from any environment lends tremendous credibility to our offering, allowing us to compete against the largest IT companies in the UK.When discussing businesses infrastructure we can talk with authority, whiteboard sound solutions and provide reference calls when needed.
- Strong negotiation skills to make the deal valuable to both parties
Getting a deal across the line in the telco world is interesting, as a traditional mobile contract gives a little more hardware credit than the previous one and also offers better packages at a reduced price. The difficulty faced in this is that many businesses expect services heavily discounted or free from a telco, which is clearly unsustainable in the world of ICT. The industry has created this problem thanks to how handsets are funded when provided “free” over a two year contract.This means that you need a strong negotiator to work with a client to get a deal agreed that provides value to both parties. This can be either the account manager, the pre sales consultant or sometimes a third sales specialist who will discuss the contract with the customer and get an agreement that is good for everyone.
Every day that passes, sees telco’s get better and better at providing technology solutions to their customers. These three distinct skillsets blended together will help them better serve their customers. However, there is still a long road ahead until this is a reality throughout the entire industry.