Jola Cloud Solutions' Blog

Targeting Major Accounts

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 20-May-2020 13:00:02

As business owners, we all have accounts we would love to land, but how many of us have a strategic plan and timeframe to close them? Without a focussed strategy to attract and convert these accounts, they are unlikely to close of their own accord.

How do you go about targeting major accounts?

Firstly, you need clear parameters to help you create a defined list of major accounts to target. Start by thinking about who consumes large quantities of your core product. Who do they buy this from now? What issues could they have with it? How can your product solve these issues? How easy is it for them to change supplier? Once you have your list, you need a strategy to attract and convert them, and a team dedicated to the project.

Tactics

All the usual marketing tactics are at your disposal, but they need to be used in a much more targeted manner. Email marketing campaigns may be conducted in other forms, such as LinkedIn messaging. Press releases and case studies communicated via social media, rather than industry publications. SEO is just as important when dealing with a smaller list of companies. Think through your key words and wrap content around them. Events are very important to ensure multiple peer conversations. With major accounts, you are often looking to influence a wider circle of decision makers and need to be visible at the exact time a decision is being taken, or better still, be the catalyst resulting in a favourable change. Contacts in common are just as critical as referrals and good case studies.

Your Team

Your team needs to be made up of both marketing and sales professionals with specific remits and tasks. There needs to be a task co-ordinator, who ensures the tactics are carried out and reported upon. For example, the Marketing Director may set the strategy and devise the tactics. They may be supported by the marketing team for data list building, social monitoring, content creation and engagement tracking. The marketing team will also need to engage the sales team and hand over tasks in order to gather further information about the account, as well as help engineer a targeted approach.

Closing

Major accounts can take over a year to close, therefore making sure you are investing your time in the right accounts is paramount. Understanding their customers, win rates, supplier relationships and new supplier onboarding processes, will help you to target the most likely to close and generate good revenues.

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Topics: Business

A Practical Guide to working from home

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 29-Apr-2020 12:52:30

When we started Jola we worked from home for a few years before we grew big enough to have an office. I had a three-month old baby with me at home. Now our entire team is working from home, many with young children, and managing to hit KPIs and drive growth in a very strange time. We have put together a guide to working from home, based on our own experience and hope it will help others.

Self-care

First and foremost, look after yourself. Having a good routine, getting enough sleep, eating well and taking regular breaks are very important to maintain momentum and productivity throughout the day. You may not be in the office, but may still be taking video calls, so be aware of what you look like and your background. Try to start and finish at your usual times to prevent work sneaking into your down-time.

Focus

Having a ‘to do’ list has never been more important. Planning your day to ensure a good balance between inbound and outbound activity is important, especially for sales and marketing. Some of us can transfer our daily routine from the office to home, especially if we have our office phone systems set up the same way and still have access to all our systems in the cloud. For others like external sales, their routines have changed completely. They are busy booking video calls and webinars instead of site visits and have more time to spend developing existing partners and researching new ones.

Balance

Many of us are working from home with young children and are embarrassed when they pop into video calls asking for a snack. We all have to balance our work with our homelife, many of us are teaching a range of new subjects and coming up with ‘fun’ learning activities that we are hopeful will amuse our children, whilst we are on important calls. Putting that person at ease by showing empathy and sharing our own stories, can really help to overcome this and help build relationships.

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Topics: Business

How to sell during a crisis

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 08-Apr-2020 11:30:17

Sales teams around the world are asking the same question at the moment. As a supplier to the UK voice and data channel, we wanted to share our thoughts with our partners.

Firstly, it is not sensible to project ‘business as usual’, as the reality is that the environment for salespeople has changed dramatically. We are all working from home, meetings are now virtual and group video chats are now a regular thing. Business owners are worrying about customers not being able to pay their bills, and we are all trying to get our head around the new government initiatives. Salespeople need to be aware of the changed priorities and adapt their approach.

Focus on helping

What do your partners/customers need right now? Understand requirements and where possible implement measures to help. It is important that the channel work together right now, as SMEs and resellers going bust will affect us all.

Adapt your approach

If you can no longer arrange meetings with customers, consider alternatives, video conferencing, training webinars, opportunity webinars. Sharing success stories in our industry is very powerful, as it is driven by entrepreneurs, who are able to change with the market. Use LinkedIn, review your profile, do your online research into what companies do, their financials, sectors they serve and problems you can uniquely solve. Consider your approach, how you draft your connection request, and what you then go on to share.

If new prospects are delaying decisions because of uncertainty, consider focussing sales teams on cross-sell and up-sell to existing customers.

Many resellers are new to mobile and mobile data, where constant innovation has thrown up several areas of opportunity. Is this the time to look at your customer base and identify openings for unlimited data products, mobile broadband and 4G back-up?

Retain contact

If you usually visit a customer once a month at site, consider moving these meetings online. Do the same with your training events and convert them to webinars. Continue your pro-active calling campaigns, checking in with key clients and prospects.

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Topics: Business

Marketing During a Global Crisis

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 08-Apr-2020 11:11:46

Many partners have asked how they can continue their marketing strategy during a crisis. We have put together some thoughts.

Audience

The first thing to consider is your audience. How have your customers and your prospects been affected by the current crisis? Has their behaviour changed? Do you need to adjust your strategy and messaging? The last thing you want to be is unsympathetic or worse still, opportunistic. Now is a good time to consider your actions and how this may affect your brand today and after the crisis has ended.

Campaign Planning

Review your messages and the timing of their delivery. Is it still appropriate in the current climate? The key to good marketing is getting the right message to the right people at the right time. If your customers are working out how to implement new government guidelines or have been forced to close, now may not be the right time to get their attention. If you haven’t checked your copy, you may cause lasting damage to your brand name.

Reviewing Spend

In a deteriorating economic situation, non-essential spend is often put on hold. In some sectors however, additional investment is required to fund campaigns to promote new online services.

Communication

Now is the time to keep in touch with your customers to let them know how you can support them and the wider community. Companies who can adapt to the new environment and help to meet demand without being opportunistic, are most likely to thrive post crisis.

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Topics: Business

Adapting your approach

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 01-Apr-2020 13:33:55

With many employees now working from home, how do we adjust our strategy to keep the business running and support the country?

Communication

Keeping in touch, has never been more important. Collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and Office UC have been great for conference calls and group projects.

Sending relevant messages to your employees and customers is good practice. It is reassuring for both employees and customers to know how you are reacting to support their changing needs.

Changing behaviours

External sales teams are used to spending a lot of time on the road visiting customers. Can they book video meetings instead? Can they run webinars to help on-board and train new customers? Can they help by ensuring partners have enough product, to meet demand?

Marketing teams can help by changing face-to-face events to webinars. We need to re-think our strategy, understand the changing needs of our customers and rise to the new challenges. We need to consider the supply chain and the installation of core services. What do our customers need during this time? Can we get this to them?

Pro-active support

Keeping open communications with employees and customers, we are able to react to challenges and help come up with solutions. For example, writing online guides to help customers resolve key issues with routers and software used for homeworking.

Some businesses have been forced to close during this period and may struggle to pay their suppliers in the short-term. Can we help by changing contract terms or by implementing payment plans? Industries such as healthcare need support to cope with new challenges faced in hospitals and care homes. Supermarkets need robust networks to ensure tills continue to operate and electronic payments do not fail. Can we as an industry help?

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Topics: Business

Awards and Accolades

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 06-Mar-2020 11:42:50

How much do they influence your buyer behaviour?

It’s awards season again and marketing departments in the channel are busy writing awards entries, booking tables and planning outfits for the big night. Before jumping in, it is first worth considering what you are entering and why?

Awards evenings are expensive when you factor in table costs, drinks, accommodation and travel. Many marketing departments need to justify the costs with outcomes, such as the additional coverage from being shortlisted and the potential benefits from winning.

In competitive markets, wholesale service providers need to differentiate their offering. MSPs, IoTSPs and resellers are all looking for unique products that differentiate themselves, that are easy to sell and help them to grow their business. How much do awards influence this?

It is difficult to estimate. In my experience at Griffin and at Jola winning relevant awards has helped to raise the company profile, introduced the company to new potential partners and in some small way has helped to influence the decision of the resellers to partner with us. It’s not the logo on the website that has swung it, more the right products, at the right price, at the right time, managed by the right people and platforms. The right awards, just like the right case study, testimonial, introduction and recommendation at the right time can make all the difference.

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Topics: Business

Does negotiation always have to be win-win?

Posted by Andrew Dickinson on 30-Sep-2019 11:08:47

I was on a beach and a guy tried to sell me some local precious stones. Very quickly we went from $100 to $10 and when I tested the ‘stones’ they were actually lumps of plastic. He shrugged and moved on to the next tourist – no hard feelings on either side. His negotiation approach is more zero-sum than win-win but has this damaged his business? – probably not.

Handle negotiations with a one-off sale badly in B2B and you may harm your reputation or your bottom line, but usually only on that one deal. However, getting it wrong with an ongoing relationship can be disastrous, especially in the channel. Where a company is re-selling your product, you have to know exactly where you fit in the value chain. What is the Standard for your product? What will your partner need to sell at, to win against the competition? - and still make enough margin to excite them, and their salespeople. What is unique about your offering and how does that translate into benefits for your partner and their customers?

I see basic negotiation mistakes all the time in my industry and usually due to lack of research and preparation. Suppliers trying to sell products to resellers without considering what they will sell it for, or assuming that their ‘unique’ features are benefits, without having properly tested the proposition. On the other side, resellers come back with random requests for discounts and get offended when you ask why. Alternatively, they invent prices they have received from other suppliers in an attempt to improve their own margin.

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Topics: Business

What if you can't negotiate a deal?

Posted by Andrew Dickinson on 30-Sep-2019 11:06:02

Going into a negotiation, there is an assumption that you will come to an agreement. If you are unable to agree terms this is often viewed as a failure but whether or not it is depends on how well you have prepared.

Before you start a negotiation it is important to think through potential outcomes. Which party has most to lose if you cannot agree? If you have done your homework on Standards you will know the range of acceptable outcomes. If you cannot get to a deal in this range, which side is most adversely impacted?

You should be able to answer this question for both sides and for individuals on both sides. e.g. perversely a product manager incentivised on average margin may be more inclined to lose a large customer than give them a significant price cut to stay. However there is a cost to switching suppliers as well as acquiring and on-boarding customers, and moving away may be the wrong decision for both organisations. One option is to adjourn the conversation with the product line and find someone with a more holistic view. Even then they may overestimate the value of inertia, so you have to make them believe there is a real possibility of losing your business. Properly research the alternatives and be prepared to walk away from a deal if your minimum requirements cannot be met.

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Topics: Business

New Manager

Posted by Andrew Dickinson on 30-Sep-2019 11:03:34

It doesn’t necessarily follow that just because you’re great at your job, you’ll naturally make a great manager. Management is a learned skill and if you can understand a few of the basic principles you will get off to a great start. Here's my top five;

1.    Feedback. There is a very small, very old book called ‘The One-Minute Manager’ - read it. Try catching people doing things right to start with. Focus on what happened rather than your opinion. “I listened to that call and your approach immediately calmed him down. I think this was because you…” Avoid ‘yes-but’ feedback. “That was really good but maybe if you…”. If this becomes a regular style, employees ignore the positive start and brace themselves for the negative punchline.

2.    Coaching and training. Your most important job as a manager is to improve the people working for you. Introduce regular and well-planned training that addresses the knowledge gaps of your staff. Don't just use ‘chalk & talk’ training. Get people involved and regularly test their learning. On skills, you need to agree a framework of feedback and learning both on-the-job and in the classroom. This is most relevant in sales where observation and role plays are far more effective than PowerPoint slides and ‘watch-me’ coaching.

3.    Mood. Displays of emotion are often counter-productive because they undermine your message and authority - if you lose your temper you lose the argument. I often see new managers adopt a deliberately surly demeanour as a defence mechanism and a badge of authority – this is a mistake. As you develop as a manager you will become deliberately more vulnerable. This opens up more space for creativity, employee development and good decision-making.

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Topics: Business

Motivation as a process

Posted by Andrew Dickinson on 30-Sep-2019 10:47:46

Someone shared a ‘guru cartoon’ with me today (please stop blind-sharing these self-absorbed phoneys), where the message was ‘be happy’ – genius! Of course, we all want to be happy but someone shouting it at you will usually have the opposite effect. Most of the stuff these self-styled ‘experts’ churn out is like Usain Bolt’s coach telling him to run faster.

The reality is that over the longer-term, people motivate themselves and it’s our job as managers to create an environment for them to do so. How?

1.   Take care of the hygiene factors i.e. remove obvious demotivating factors from the environment. If employees know that others are doing the same job as they are, but getting more money, they are justifiably pissed off. If they have a two-hour round-trip to the office just so you can watch them work, you lessen their commitment, and their respect for you. Be flexible and help them to spend more time working in their unique ability.

2.   Define success, measure it, and let them get on with it. Some of the annual objectives I have seen senior managers set are laughable and amount to no more than a task list (I remember ‘attend training’ was one). Objectives are numbers that relate directly to successful outcomes, that your business can measure and report on. Ever had a KPI that when you get to appraisal time you both realise has not been recorded because the business just cannot collect that data? 

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Topics: Business

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