This article originally appeared in the Feb. 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY Magazine.
Agents are looking into 2011 with awe and wonder. They aren’t alone, as VARs and carriers also try to figure out a business model for the future. The rapid adoption of cloud-based services caught many by surprise.
Agents and VARs have to figure out quickly where they fit in the cloud ecosystem. It could just be on the edge as the pipe. Carriers currently are looking at that dumb pipe position and saying there’s not a lot of value in being a dumb pipe provider. There’s not a lot of value in being a dumb pipe order taker either.
The value is in understanding the ecosystem and the business processes. There are choke points and weak points in the chain that can allow for adding value.
Value comes in the form of knowledge these days. Can you make the on-boarding process easier? Can you help avoid pitfalls? Can you provide guidance in network design for redundancy? Will there be interoperability issues?
One of the reasons that I promote niche marketing is that you can develop specialized industry know-how and lexicon. Federal and state regulations affect different industry sectors in varying ways. Being able to bring that kind of knowledge to a prospect is invaluable. It is the cornerstone of being an expert.
Examples include PCI (News - Alert) compliance for retail; HIPAA for health care; and GLBA for banking and finance. These examples also can be turned into marketing. Seminars, webinars and news items can be used in social media updates, e-mail campaigns, search engine marketing and other ways to grab attention from prospects and customers – not just to sell them something but to teach them and add value not just to the services you sell but to their business.
Voicemail, spam filters, noise and out of the office are preventing you from getting the prospects attention. 2011 will require you to add value first.
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi