Jola Cloud Solutions' Blog

What does the channel need right now?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 14-Oct-2020 11:20:11

Communication

We need to be in constant contact with our customers right now to assess their changing requirements. By understanding the challenges, you can tailor solutions to meet their needs, and in the process increase ARPU.  You may have customers who are struggling with slow broadband at home and 4G may be the solution. 4G routers are available with antennas and unlimited data SIMs, offering reliable, fast, internet connectivity which is plug-and-play. You may need to support customers struggling financially or looking to add an online or delivery service to their businesses. By understanding and meeting the needs of existing customers, you are in a good position to retain them and increase loyalty moving forwards.

Innovation

We need new revenue streams at the moment to help us off-set other areas of the business, which may be suffering due to COVID. Thinking about new products and solutions which could be packaged for existing customers is a good place to start. Do you currently sell 4G? It is a product that is easy to add to your portfolio and in great demand from homeworkers and keyworkers in the current climate. It can be ordered and provisioned within a white-label portal, easy to bill and easy to monitor.

Do you currently supply the NHS? Doctors surgeries and pop-up hospitals are looking for telecommunications and IT support. Nurses and carers travelling to see patients at home need reliable SIM cards in personal alarms and smart devices to complete their reports. Paramedics need reliable 4G connectivity in tablets to update their patient records on the move. Police need reliable SIM cards in push-to-talk radio and body-worn cameras. In the public sector reliable internet connectivity is required for smart lighting and smart parking solutions. Are you on the Government Framework to supply telecommunications and IT? Now is a great time to innovate and cross-sell and upsell into your existing base. Do you sell IoT solutions? IoT is now commonplace in all industries, measuring and tracking devices need SIM cards, you may be able to supply.

Differentiation

What we need right now is differentiated products with good margin potential that are easy to sell, provision, support and bill. We need to invest in opportunities we have a good chance of winning and promote our successes with a view to winning new customers in the same sector.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd

Evaluating Suppliers

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 11-Feb-2020 12:17:30

As a reseller you have a wide range of wholesale suppliers available to you for hosted voice, internet connectivity and mobile data. How do you ensure you pick the right supplier that meets your needs today and as your company grows?

Products

Many resellers start with products. They have demand for particular products and research the market to see who can deliver products that match their customers’ exact requirements. It is worth spending the time evaluating products, as many can seem similar on the surface but quite different in reality. Unique products and services can give you competitive advantage and help you to win new business against well-known brand names.

Price

You need to buy at the right price to make healthy margins and still win the business. Buying well can help you to be competitive and win in price-sensitive markets.

Portals

You need to be in control over the provisioning and management of your services to be able to provide a good service to your customers. Having a portal which allows you to manage your estate is essential, with full training provided.

Communication

Having a named person, you can pick up the phone to and get information from is important, especially when supporting unique products and bespoke solutions. Ideally you want to be able to download white label documentation from a portal, as well as refer to articles and guides you can brand.

Support

Having the right level of support in sales, provisioning, technical support and billing is important. Knowing queries will be answered quickly and issues resolved to your satisfaction is critical. It is even more important when there is an issue to know exactly what is happening, why it happened, what is being done about it and when usual service will resume. This improves your communication to your customers, helps stem an influx of calls and maintains the trust of your customer base.

Performance Indicators

In the channel, how quickly phones are answered, how well queries are responded to and whether you would recommend them a supplier, are key performance indicators. Ask about KPIs and request results to understand how well the business responds to the needs of their partners, before signing up.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd

What is the plan for 2019?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 16-Jan-2019 10:33:13

Where do you want your business to be by the end of the year and how are you planning to get there? What are your key opportunities and what could threaten your success?

Objectives

Many business owners outline exactly what they want to achieve and articulate this in a list of smart objectives, with measurable targets. For example, in the next 12 months we want to exceed £xm annual revenue.

Engage key people

It is useful to involve the sales and marketing team when planning revenue targets. It is a good idea to analyse current revenue streams and pipelines to understand where business is being won and how much winning the business is costing. Which products are the most profitable? Which products are the easiest to sell? Do you have a handle on churn? Where will the opportunities come from in 2019? Is the current sales and marketing strategy working? What needs to be added or changed?

What will be accomplished by when?

The business plan usually contains high level objectives, strategy and financials, however, the sales and marketing plans often contain more detail, analysing where we are now, where we want to be, how we will get there and arrive safely.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd

3 mistakes to avoid when growing your business

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 31-Oct-2018 11:30:59

Running before you can walk

It is tempting to rent the plush office in the premier location and to bring on expensive resources too early, but it is a risk.

Entrepreneurs typically have boundless energy and big ideas for the future, however it is useful to for them to be supported by people that can not only help to make their ideas a reality but can also map the journey.

Choosing the wrong team

Successful teams typically have a diverse mix of skills and experience with a shared vision and ethos. You can’t do it all yourself when growing a business, it is not sustainable. Do what you love to do and do best and include others in the management and ownership of the business.

Hire people you know and trust, who share your work ethic and company culture, who are driven and gifted in their chosen fields. Good staff are the backbone of any business and reflect your reputation and goodwill.

Choosing the wrong customers

It is exciting to win new business, however taking time out to consider whether you should accept the new business is key. Targeting financially stable companies who you can build a long-term relationship is preferable and balance your base to ensure that if you lose your biggest customer, you can still trade.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd

The benefits of a single supplier

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 03-Oct-2018 16:28:12

It is five times easier to sell to existing customers than it is to attract new business, so it makes sense for resellers to sell their customers as many complimentary products as they can. This also stops competitors gaining a foothold in their customer base.

One person to call

For customers, having a single-source supplier makes sense, as they only have one person to call to report an issue. Often when resellers only manage the hosted voice solution and not the underlying internet connectivity, it is more difficult to analyse the fault and fix it quickly. Similarly, you can only guarantee an improved SLA if you buy the primary circuit and 4G back-up from the same supplier. Customers often feel fobbed-off by suppliers when they ring to report a fault with their telephony, only to be told to re-dial their internet supplier, as there is no known fault their end.

Lower churn

As a business if you feel valued and rewarded for buying several products from one single supplier, you are less likely to churn away, especially if you have a good deal and experience great service.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd, jola

Should we be doing exhibitions?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 05-Sep-2018 09:17:47

For some partners attending and sponsoring exhibitions is part of their marketing strategy and multiple events are booked every year. For others, investing in an exhibition is a big decision, with many internal discussions around investment and potential return. Often the Sales Director makes the final decision and organises it. These partners sometimes turn to suppliers for help and support to maximise their success. There are three key factors to consider when planning an exhibition.

Research your market

Who attends your event? Who attended last year? Are these the types of prospects you are targeting? If so, think about your approach. How do you plan to interact with these prospects?

Many will take an exhibition package, giving them either space for their own stand and materials or a pre-built stand package, branded with their corporate logos. Whatever option you choose, think about your shop window, how your image will compare to your competitors and factor in any additional costs such as broadband and electrics. Ensure you have the ability to demonstrate and promote your services in the most effective way.

Attract your audience

Think about how you will attract prospects to your stand. You don’t have to spend thousands on bill boards outside the event, videos at the entrance hall and internal signage to get attention. You can invite prospects to your stand beforehand but be aware they may also visit your competitors. You can advertise yourself in the show guide and work the stand to ensure that every prospect that passes your stand is approached and qualified.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd, marketing

Looking for a good voice and data wholesaler?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 05-Sep-2018 08:40:05

When looking for a new supplier of voice and data services, there are a number of factors to consider. Who has the best pricing? Who offers the widest range of best-of-breed services? Who will give me the best service?

Pricing

Pricing is key. To win business and retain a healthy margin, you need competitive wholesale rates. Rather than going on headline pricing alone, quote a live opportunity to get an understanding of how prospective suppliers stack up against existing suppliers.

Products

To be competitive and win new business, you need to offer a better solution at a reduced price. How can your supplier help you differentiate your proposition? What is unique about their offering and is this of value to your own customers? Having a wide range of options from a single supplier, makes quoting and ordering easier, provisioning more efficient and support more effective. Having products that you can’t buy from anyone else, enhances your own USPs.

Service

How much does your new supplier care about your business? Channel-only suppliers, dedicated to supporting companies like you, better understand the demands placed on you by your customers. They answer calls and emails promptly and resolve issues in enough time for you to hit your own response targets.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd

Want to transition from dealer to reseller?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 20-Aug-2018 14:47:51

IT and Telecoms companies can improve ARPU by supplying new products to loyal customers. Research shows that SMEs prefer to buy from existing suppliers, they trust. Until there is sufficient demand to justify investment in support, billing and marketing, the supplier will often partner with a specialist on an introduction and commission basis. Moving from a dealer to a reseller model provides better control and improved margins, however there are challenges along the way.

Forecasts, targets and contract terms

What are the rules? Are there any set targets? Read the partner agreement before you sign and ask to speak to a partner that has made the transition to ensure you are comfortable with the terms and conditions.

Billing

Billing can be problematic for IT companies that want to start reselling fixed, mobile and hosted telephony products. Alongside monthly service charges they will need to process monthly CDRs (Call Data Records), rating each call type and producing itemised bills and variable invoices. It is difficult and risky to try and adapt existing in-house billing systems and purchasing and managing specialist billing software is not always feasible.

There are some good third-party billing products available, however the set-up fees, monthly standing charge and billing percentages mean the reseller often has to take several orders before the margin covers the monthly cost of billing. Some of the more sophisticated suppliers offer white-label billing for their products and will even bill products and services the reseller buys from other suppliers. This can be a cheaper and less risky alternative.

Support

Until you reach a critical mass of customers it is not worth recruiting and training additional support staff. For business-critical products that have 24/7 SLAs, technical support is a particular challenge. There are some very good bureau services available however these come with set-up charges and minimum spends. Often, they will also charge for calls by the minute and per email on tickets. Incidents happen with any technology and a major outage could cost thousands of pounds. If the supplier of the products offers a white label technical support service, then this is the best solution until you can justify hiring your own team. Only the best suppliers will stand by their products by offering a white label technical support product on a fixed-cost basis. They will also help you to train your own support staff when the time is right.

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Topics: Dealer, Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd

Are you using LinkedIn effectively?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 15-Aug-2018 10:09:21

LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform for business. You may have a LinkedIn page for your company, but are you making the most out of it?

Have a goal

Having a measurable goal is a good way of assessing how well LinkedIn is working for your business. Often businesses will track number of connections or number of likes and comments, however this may not be the right metric to track success. Think about what you want to get from LinkedIn. From a marketing prospective we are trying to attract, engage and convert our prospects into leads. By adding a strong call to action to all your blogs posted on LinkedIn and tracking them overtime against a target can be a good metric.

Build up a mailing list

When you have generated interest from content posted on LinkedIn and they have visited your website, the objective is to generate a lead to convert. This is often a process over time. By adding web prospects from LinkedIn to your mailing lists, with all the appropriate permissions, you can build a list of warmer prospects to send targeted and personalised content to.

Plan multiple contacts

Five contacts over a six month period from blog to email, to webinar, to call, to face to face meetings helps to engage and convert LinkedIn prospects. A joined-up sales and marketing approach is key.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd, marketing

What happened to my lead?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 15-Aug-2018 09:51:57

One of the biggest frustrations for marketing is good, qualified leads that showed an interest but didn’t go anywhere. Not every lead you generate will convert, however when you have profiled your mailing list, crafted a campaign and generated some great opportunities, it is useful to know what went wrong.

Missed

The most common mistake when following up leads is leaving it too late to reply. With a prospect contacting you, there is a window of the same working day to respond. If you make contact in a timely manner, understand and meet the requirements, you will establish a relationship, which you can build from. By forgetting to respond and being reminded by the prospect, you are on the back foot and may have already given the competition a head start.

Misunderstanding

You have managed to hit the right person at the right time but you have misunderstood the requirement. He contacts you for pricing. If you can’t get hold of the prospect to fully understand his requirements, you may send the wrong information and miss the opportunity. The prospect may not have time to take sales calls, but without properly qualifying his requirement, the opportunity will be lost and the prospect challenging to re-engage with.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd, marketing

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