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UCStrategies.com defines unified communications as “Communications integrated to optimize business processes.” The definition of unified communications narrows significantly when you can read and hear about real-world examples that other companies are implementing right now—and apply them to your situation.
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I know that we are all tired of the T-word: transition. For most solutions integrators (SIs), transition is a constant source of stress and frustration because their business models are changing. Many of the VARs I have talked to are taking a fresh look at their vendor partner relationships. Who should they align with? Who will be around in five years? What makes sense for their current client base? What fits with their technical and sales organization? Planning a transition strategy without knowing what the business will look like in the near future is a matter of moving ahead while also keeping the options open. I am going to discuss how you can begin to move ahead with transitioning your sales organization.
The key trends in the marketplace that affect your sales organization are:
That means that SIs will transition towards an agent business model selling more Cloud-based offerings than premises-based. Long-standing relationships with vendors will be tested and, in some cases, strengthened, but only if the SIs evolve their positioning with their clients. This positioning starts with a strategic plan for change in their sales organizations. The reseller role in the buying process is evolving from that of a vendor of telephony equipment to a knowledgeable consultant/collaborator/agent with suppliers, client end-user groups, and the new client contact for unified communications. To achieve this goal, new sales competencies are required.
In my last article, “Getting the Right Players on the Field,” I pointed to a job posting for a unified communications manager at a large enterprise. It included the following descriptors for that position:
“Develop an effective vision that considers technical innovation, business strategy, consumer touch points, risk, and affordability. Develop supporting business cases for new technologies and initiatives to communicate business benefits to senior management and across functions. Create inspirational presentations to communicate benefits.”
The point of showing this job description is that if SIs plans to go after UC business with mid-markets and large accounts, then they need to build a sales organization that can match up with this contact person in terms of skills and knowledge. A key perceptual barrier that will need to be overcome by SI resellers is that they are not used to hiring an account manager that needs to make $200K plus per year. A compensation rate of 30% to 33% of gross margins means that SIs needs to be closing larger deals and more of them. What was a sales goal of $300K per year is now $1M. Therefore, SIs in the mid-market should be targeting a bigger percentage of the overall enterprise spend on UC solutions. This is the reality of the new marketplace.
So how do you go about determining the kind of salesperson you need to make this transition with your clients? As we all know, there are many different kinds of successful salespeople. The key is fit. A common standard used for differentiating between sales types is competencies. Competencies can be measured objectively and that is why they are useful for shaping SI sales organizations.
I partnered with an organization called CSO Insights, a leading sales research and analytics firm, to create a system for evaluating the competencies of successful salespeople at successful companies. This system measures competencies relative to their client relationships and the sales processes the companies used. I call this the Sales GPS. Like the GPS that guides us to our destination using geographic coordinates, the Sales GPS uses our client relationships and our internal sales processes to tell us what kind of salesperson we need.
The following is a diagram of the relationship between those two factors we call the Sales Relationship/Process Matrix.
The list of relationship types is fairly self-explanatory and illustrates an evolution of interaction and understanding with the client enterprise. The process stages are rated in terms of relative focus, discipline, and strategic account planning; you’ve heard me in the past refer to dynamic business or account planning. This is where top-tier sales organizations excel. In our case, the general profile for high performing IT consulting salespeople we want, called Strategists, can be boiled down to four main competencies:
This is the sales profile model we either need to develop within our organization or hire from the outside. Chances are you will need to do both. If you would like to assess your sales organization there is a free tool available at www.salestalentprofiler.com. I suggest that you take this short assessment twice. The first time, answer the questions as your sales organization is today, and the second time, answer as you envision how it looks in the future. If your future vision does not produce the Strategist profile, then take a look at your sales processes. Finding out what kind of sales person you need is the first step in planning your sales transformation.
In future articles I will discuss strategies and processes for training, developing, and recruiting sales people that will support this new model.
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Communications Integrated to Optimize Business Processes.
UC integrates real-time and non-real time communications with business processes and requirements.
Uses presence capabilities for coordination, and presents a consistent unified user interface and experience across multiple devices and media types.
Learn more at What is Unified Communications all about?