20 July 2015
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up 99.3% of the UK private sector and are worth £1.6 trillion to the economy.
Almost 50% of private sector revenues come from SMEs and 60% of private sector workers are employed by them. The numbers speak for themselves, and with most SMEs using two or more companies to supply them with communications services, the potential for resellers to offer unified bundles is huge.
As a provider, you need to ensure that your offer to SMEs is the very best it can be. Follow these tips to make sure you are maximising your existing customers’ experience and are in the best possible position when pitching for new business.
Dealing with multiple communications suppliers costs SMEs time and money. Offer them a bundled, hosted communications solution encompassing voice, data and mobile and you will make their lives a whole lot easier. In doing so, you’ll benefit from increased revenue and more committed customers.
Once a business relationship with an SME is in place, make sure you stay in contact. If a business is using you for one of your products, they’ll be more receptive to buying another. By supporting their business needs you’ll be well placed to deliver any future communications requirements.
Don’t let your competition overtake you. Keep a watchful eye on them to ensure that you are doing the most you can when pitching for new business, and are keeping your current customers from looking elsewhere.
Traditional, on-site PBX is becoming outdated. Adding or reducing capacity is complex and the level of capital expenditure it entails is a worry for financial directors. As a communications provider, you can help SMEs to move from a traditional to a modern solution, and by facilitating the switch you become a valuable resource and a provider that they will be more likely to endorse.
An SME might be nervous about moving to cloud-based technology – even though traditional solutions are actually more risky than cloud alternatives. Use your expertise as a communications provider to allay their fears. Reassure them that they are making the right decision and promote the benefits of moving services off-site.
Every SME you work with will experience peaks and troughs, dictated by seasons and events. With a traditional, on-site PBX, coping with unusually high demand would require the purchase or hire of infrastructure and new lines. With a modern, hosted solution, the process of adding and removing capacity is trouble- free and near-instantaneous. The smoother you make this experience for a business, the more they’ll love you.
With the changes in how and where people work, many SMEs are switching to agile working practises. Make sure they know you can help facilitate this change. You can play a crucial role in explaining the benefits of a having an agile workforce and suggesting services that will enable them to offer flexible working to their employees.
Your customers will want to deal with people who understand their business. Your account managers need to develop strong relationships with the SMEs you work with, or with who you want to work with. Avoid being seen as a faceless organisation and you could acquire long-term profitable partners, not just customers.
Planning is an important consideration when improving your communications offering to SMEs. Not just planning how you want to acquire new business, but how you will approach things like the transition from capex to opex billing, or what you will do in the event of a service issue. In the former you may want to look at a phased rollout to ensure constant cashflow. In the latter you will need to tell your customers how to reroute their inbound calls to keep their business connected.
The range of services you are supplying to SMEs means that you can’t simply install equipment and systems and then disappear until replacements are needed. In promoting flexible hours and agile working, you will need to practice what you preach and offer constant support at any time of the day or night.
20 July 2015 | Justin Coombes
The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.