Jola Cloud Solutions' Blog

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: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd, Dealer

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: marketing, Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd

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: marketing, Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd

Interviewing for the right people to help grow your business

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 25-Jul-2018 13:17:28

Once you have a pool of candidates that have the desired skills and experience on paper, you will be filtering candidates for interviews. Many partners start by calling candidates and asking preliminary questions over the phone. If you do need to do this, be clear on your filtering criteria.

Telephone interviews

When conducting telephone interviews, it is useful for companies to go through employment history to understand why the candidate is looking to make a move. For candidates, telephone interviews are a good opportunity to ask questions to understand the role and remuneration on offer.

Face to face interviews

At Jola, we use a set of behavioural questions for face to face interviews. They generate real examples and allow us to probe further into the experience of each candidate. Can you tell me about a time when you…? How did you handle this? We look for evidence of each of our criteria and note down the positive, negative or no evidence presented. We avoid hypothetical questions and use probing questions to drill down further into answers given.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd

Advertising for the right candidates to grow your business

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 25-Jul-2018 12:42:52

As a growing business, Jola recently advertised for a range of positions in sales, marketing, support and finance. We were lucky to have access to a pool of experienced staff, who share our values and have years of experience in the industry on our door step. Partners looking to grow their business by partnering with Jola, often recruit additional staff and sometimes struggle to find the right people. To help we have drafted a few blogs on recruitment, based on our own experiences.

Step 1 – get the job description just right

Writing a very specific job description, outlining key skills and experience, rather than copying a standard template is important. Think about your corporate culture, your company values, the role and how it fits into your organisational chart. What are your expectations in terms of performance? What skills and experience are essential? What can be learnt on the job?

Step 2 – decide on how to advertise the role

Do you invest in a recruitment agent or advertise the role yourself?

If you only advertise on your own website, your reach is limited. You can advertise on the top-ranking recruitment websites for as little as £55. It is worth researching how long your vacancy will be advertised for and analysing the web traffic.

LinkedIn recruitment offers a cost-effective way to post a job and receive filtered applicants based on your criteria. You can share the job and encourage others to share the job within your industry, with the aim of attracting a candidate with the skills and experience you require.

For some roles, specialised recruitment agencies are useful to headhunt on your behalf.

Advertising roles internally and offering refer-a-friend schemes are also very effective, low-cost ways of generating a pool of candidates to interview.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd

What can our new partners learn from our most successful partners?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 25-Jun-2018 16:40:33

Customisation

Our most successful partners integrate our products with their core services and tailor packages to meet the needs of their audience. For example, internet connectivity is packaged and installed with hosted applications managed by the partner. Hosted voice is tailored to meet the needs of target verticals. SIMs are integrated into multiple devices and sold as bespoke solutions. The objectives are to increase products per customer, increase customer satisfaction and decrease churn.

Visibility

Successful partners are very visible to their customers and target audience. They attend local events, pop up regularly on Google, post regular updates on social media and have regular contact with their customers and potential customers. They let their audience know what they sell and what problems they solve.

Credibility

Successful partners demonstrate their success on their website using testimonials, case studies and in some cases award wins. They promote their success to their target audience, using press and email communications.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd, marketing

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