Parallel Lines: The ace up our sleeve

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What do I want unified communications to mean? I want it to be the ability to sell more products and services to customers, and for the sales channel to be able to earn more and improve client relations from that deeper entanglement with them.

We, as traditional ‘mobilists’, must of course skill-up and re-skill, and learn to do what those active in the fixed line and IT sales channels are already doing. Because it is a different discipline. Those channels buy kit for £600 and sell it for £1,800 on three-year leases, say; rather than buying hardware for £600 and passing it on to customers for ‘free’ as the mobile sales channel has tended to do.

There is more we must do in terms of consultation, after-sales care and maintenance of infrastructure.

The discussion in the fixed line space is about analogue lines, digital lines, ISDN lines, call forwarding, voice email and more. And those channels are requested to be on-call, and to respond quickly when customers’ systems go down. Customers want service levels agreements with those resellers that guarantee their systems will be running again within hours of them crashing.

This sector has so far been paid by network operators to find customers, and has sold to them by analysing rates and minutes, and sometimes pairing SIMs with handsets. And the customer has tended to rely upon operator call centres to have queries answered.

But at the same time, if we are honest, fixed line rates are just not that sexy for the mobile sales channel – £25 per month for each line, say, and the reseller takes 10 per cent; that’s £30 per annum. It is different of course when monthly sales are at 10,000 lines, but the problem with the fixed line sale is it is a long, slow burn, and a hill to climb. O2 has been smart with Joined Up, and bringing together parallel sales channels in a sense, because it has added £50 per connection so long as customers take out a fixed line contract during the course of their mobile contract – plus revenue share, £100 per line is more attractive, clearly.

Of course, this is to look at communications technologies and sales channels separately, still, and the sense is they are coming together at some pace.

Full article in Mobile News issue 461 (April 12, 2010).

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