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Why Offer Less Than the Best? [Rural Telecommunications]
[June 28, 2014]

Why Offer Less Than the Best? [Rural Telecommunications]

(Rural Telecommunications Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) was at a marketing conference last year in a small breakout session focused on "ways to upsell" and overheard a marketing manager talking about how well she knew her customer base. So well, in fact, that she told a story of talking a customer out of getting a higher tiered broadband service because she knew the lady lived alone and "didn't need all that bandwidth" anyway.

Hashtag major fail.

That is an extreme example of missing the mark in selling tiered broadband service. But could it be possible that more rational selling methods are just as backward? Our company, Big Bend Telephone Co. (Alpine, Texas), offers tiered broadband service, and until 2013 our sales strategy was to promote aH the tiers equally. We listed all the tiers on signage, collateral and advertisements. When talking with customers, we would recite the list of all the available broadband packages. We were associating a tier with what it might be useful for-the slower speeds for checking email and the faster for streaming video-and always trying to upsell to a faster speed tier based on number of connected devices, kids in the home, etc.

These approaches seem sensible, don't they? Albert Einstein said, "You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it." Especially when you don't realize there is a problem in the first place! I gained a fresh perspective when a sales consultant we hired posed this simple question: Why are you offering anything less than the best service offering? If our goal is to truly be a customer advocate, why would we not offer and want our customers to have anything less than the best possible online experience? If the average household has 5.7 connected devices, the average adult spends over 5 hours per day online, and 51% of people stream video every week, clearly appetite for bandwidth is only going to grow. And that's just the average.

Trying to determine a speed tier that best fits our customers' needs based on the few questions we were asking is as backward as assuming what our customer can and cannot afford. Consider that our general manager, who is now an empty nester with three children out of the house, is using more bandwidth than ever and has over 20 connected devices. That throws the logic of asking if there are kids in the house as a way to upsell broadband right out the window.

So we changed our perspective and our process. We instituted a few simple changes, and we began to see big results. After 12 months of implementing the "lead with your best" philosophy, we increased our take rate at our fastest speed tier by 300%. Three. Hundred. Percent.

A month after this perspective change we launched a broadband service in a new area. We are nine months in and our take rate is as foHows: 86% at the fastest tier, 14% at the middle tier and 0% at the lowest tier. Before this launch, our average take rate looked like this: 12% at the fastest tier, 33% at the middle tier and 55% at the lowest speed tier.

Not only are we recovering our cost and turning a profit much faster, our customers are more satisfied with the service.

These are some simple but powerful changes we implemented that are yielding big results: 1. We only list our fastest broadband package on our marketing materials. On our website, the fastest tier is the most prominent.

2. All incentives and promotions are applicable only to our fastest speed tiers.

3. When discussing our broadband service, we always lead with our fastest package, allowing us to communicate the value of the service and sell the best possible online experience.

Customers always have the option of going slower if they wish, but our numbers prove that when offered the best first, they have a hard time turning it down. 0 Meredith Horn is marketing director for Big Bend Telephone Co. in Alpine, Texas. Contact her at Meredith.

(c) 2014 National Telephone Cooperative

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