The Swan Independent Research survey of August 2014 randomly sampled 20,000 UK SMEs. In the sample 85% of SMEs had fewer than 50 employees and 62% fewer than 20. The survey showed that 54% of respondents used a local communications supplier and 48% said that they were influenced by a local supplier when it came to making purchasing decisions for communications products and services. 22% would get references from other SMEs and 55% said a primary source of information in any decision was the web. 78% of MDs were involved in the buying process – 47% from the start.
One could therefore conclude that where no in-house expertise exists, the MD will often lead a project themselves, guided by trusted suppliers, web research and peer recommendation.
Steps to take
So what steps can you take to appear on the radar of customers and prospects investigating a move to cloud applications? Getting a decent web site and good referrals is obvious, but how do you know if you are a trusted supplier? Maybe ask yourself;
- Have I recently found out that my customer has chosen a cloud-hosted solution irrespective of whether or not I could have bid for it?
- Other than through billing, does a member of my staff talk to, or visit, my customers at least once a month?
- How reliant are my customers on my expertise to ensure the continuing operation of their business?
- What do I know about cloud products currently in rapid growth and am I keeping tabs on cloud enablers such as FTTC?
On one extreme of the trust scale around 20% of Jola Partners have authority to sign orders on behalf of their customers. At the other end we have Partners that sold a phone system a few years ago and no longer have the calls and lines or maintenance contracts.
In many ways being a trusted supplier is the most important area to focus on because existing customers should be easier to sell to and if you are not a trusted supplier you may lose customers to another supplier that is.
To review Jola as a potential supplier...