Mastering mid-market in the channel
An interview with Matt Townsend
Founded over 15 years ago by a team who had been instrumental in building the early internet market; Cavell delivers unrivalled, in-depth analysis of the cloud communications market. We caught up with Cavell’s well-respected analyst Matthew Townend, who focuses on cloud communications and whose career has always centred around new markets, to discuss the challenges of tackling mid-market in the digital transformation era.
With the advent of UCaaS opening up new opportunities for channel partners, Gamma wanted to examine the ways in which our partners can broaden their horizons with new markets and verticals. Speaking with Cavell’s Director of Research and Consulting, Matt Townend, we discovered some of the key tips for recognising opportunity and identifying key differentiators in driving mid-market sales.
What do you think are the biggest challenges for Partners wanting to target Mid-Market?
When looking to move up market, one of the biggest challenges is really understanding the customer requirements, which by the very nature of larger businesses may become more complicated. They may work in a specific sector that has its own business challenges and dynamics. The other large challenge is how to stand out in a crowded market and build credibility.
What differences have you observed between the buying processes for Mid-Market as opposed to SME?
With respect to SME companies, the mid-market generally tends to have a better understanding of the technologies and as such are more educated buyers. They perhaps are less likely to buy on price alone, and therefore service and tailoring of your solution to their needs become important. It is clear from our enterprise research that they are more likely to have more requirement for services such as collaboration or remote working and will be considering issues such as automation and customer interaction. Interest is around the value unified communications can add to today’s business landscape and how it can improve the way people communicate both internally but also externally to partners and customers.
How can Channel Partners best adjust to this difference in the buyer journey?
The people who I have seen become successful have brought some element of focus to their strategy, rather than just a blind move into the mid-market. So maybe that is by being experts in a certain vertical or by building expertise in a particularly relevant adjacent technology area. Within this approach you can focus less on features and more on the benefits the products bring to the end customer. I also feel partners should make some tangible differences to the way they service customers and build relevant case studies and use cases that demonstrate the benefits in order to drive business forward.
What might a Mid-Market business be looking for, in terms of Hosted telephony, that a small business wouldn’t?
The size of a business does not necessarily impact on the complexity of its telecoms. There are some very sophisticated SMEs and some larger companies that still want little more than dial tone and voicemail. Often there can be greater variation between industry than business size. However, in general terms – larger businesses are probably more likely to be looking at collaboration, remote working along with more complex integration – with applications such CRM solutions, call centre functionality and reporting.
With Millennials and baby boomers both prevalent in today’s typical Mid-Market business, what affect does this have on adoption rates in your view?
Certainly, they are more open to new technologies. But that brings challenges as they can expect services to work simply like the applications they use in the consumer world, they are also more likely to use their own applications in the business world. Also because they may flit between different providers in using different apps I think they can be less tolerant and more impatient in waiting for new features and consequently be more willing to swap suppliers more regularly.
What advice would you have for Channel Partners trying to tackle the Mid-Market?
My main piece of advice would be to make sure you understand what the issues are in driving buyer decisions in each vertical and be able to articulate how your proposition solves those pain points. Don’t assume one solution proposition is going to suit all customers. When partners lose a deal, they should be sure to find out why – the old adage that a salesman will always say they lost the deal because you were too expensive is not always the case. When you have had success make sure you build credibility through cases studies, whitepapers and demonstrate knowledge and credibility.
Gamma’s top tips to tackle Mid-Market
Square peg, round hole
When selling into mid-market, don’t try to shoe horn a product into a customer business, instead establish the key challenges and pain points for that particular customer and help them understand how the product conquers these challenges.
With such a vast array of information available via different mediums, there’s no excuse not to be armed with an understanding of what makes the organisation and the decision maker tick. Use strategic reports, LinkedIn and even Google alerts to establish the customer’s objectives.
Mid-market customers bring in resellers or suppliers into their conversation to add value to their procurement. They are looking for a consultative approach that will ultimately aid them in achieving their goals, so make sure you take ownership and steer the conversation.
Make sure you understand where your mid-market customers play. Is it education, healthcare, recruitment or finance? How have you been successful there before? Which customer have you helped in this vertical before? What were their challenges? How did you overcome them? What was the result? Make sure you are speaking their language.
Feedback regardless of whether it is positive or negative is the customer’s way of defining their objectives to you. Rather than jumping on the defensive, absorb and take this information back to the drawing board to re-define your proposed solution.