Five ways to get channel planning right in 2016

For many channel partners, 2016 planning started some months ago. But with telecommunications being such an evolving market place priorities should constantly be reassessed and evaluated in line with customer demand.

From brand awareness to maximising your customer base, here are the five things you should be thinking about to get channel planning right this year.

Simplify the message

Most resellers offer a range of services. And it is safe to say that the organisations they are selling to are not completely up to speed with all of them. The smart channel partner looks to understand the customer first and tailor the message accordingly, not the other way around.

Using industry terminology in the consumer space is a great way to encourage prospects onto the next provider in line, who uses language they can understand, explains products succinctly and offers services that are relevant and necessary. So make this the year that you cut jargon from your comms.

 

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Get the single solution covered

Traditional telecommunications resellers are adding data and IT to their product portfolio. Similarly other service providers are adding voice telecommunications. The result is widespread convergence in the marketplace and huge competition.

Naturally convergence is an opportunity. More services to sell means more money to make. But you should be aware that being a single solution provider requires the delicate balance of risk and reward. Customers will expect absolute authority, reliability and expertise from their provider. So spending time on supplier choice, recruiting dedicated voice, data and IT personnel, and putting in place excellent aftercare is absolutely essential to getting it right.

Work your brand

Because of the changing marketplace there are more suppliers of IT and telecommunications technology than ever before. Brand-weak resellers are likely to fall away as competition increases.

In order to avoid becoming one of the worse off in 2016, you should find what makes your brand stand out and promote it. This may be expertise, location history or a distinctive service, such as 24 hour call centre support.

There are many ways to tell the story of how your brand sits above the competition. Case studies, social media and marketing collateral all work well.

You and your provider

Research suggests that almost two-thirds (69%) of businesses are finding it harder to manage their voice, data and mobile infrastructure now than they did a year ago. The obvious answer for these organisations is single solution, or converged offering. And channel partners are the people to offer it. But to do so effectively, partners need to have chosen the right provider.

As a partner, you should feel that your provider is working with you at every step. So make sure you constantly evaluate their performance on a micro level, paying particular attention to how they perform on delivery, provision and installation.

There is also a question to answer around how many suppliers you deal with. If data, voice and IT are all coming from different places, one not hitting the mark can affect the rest of your single solution offer. That threat is removed by taking all of your services from the same company.

At the same time as you assess your provider, make sure you carefully examine your own processes. The ambition should be to become a well-oiled machine, whose staff have completely bought into yearly and longer-term plans.

Make the most of what you have

With so much focus on new business, it can be easy to forget the potential of existing customers. Gaining a thorough understanding of your customer base and selling extra services is the ideal way to grow and build throughout the year. For instance, if you are providing a customer with voice services, then a pitch to sell in a full service wrap (including PBX and internet access) can transform a small account into something much bigger.

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20 January 2016 | Justin Coombes

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The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.