Simply selling the general business benefits of networking and mobile technology is not enough to convince customers.
One really effective option is to present specific offerings that meets the needs of their businesses. This is relatively simple to do and remarkably effective.
Vertical markets have specific needs, and resellers focusing on these can drive more business around the theme of networking and mobility.
We've had a lot of experience of this and we know it's effective. Over the past couple of years we have run focused campaigns with partners on hospitality and leisure for wireless guest access and in specific areas of the education market, such as student and shared accommodation.
We have also focused on GPs surgeries in healthcare, on retail outlets that need to provide wireless access for their stream of various customers, and there are many other examples we could mention.
Saying "focus on customers' specific needs" might appear to be stating the obvious. But until you get customers to tune in and really think about the daily benefits, you won't get far with most prospects.
Even if what you are saying could be applied to almost any kind of business or organisation, you need to spell it out for them.
For example, if you are targeting schools and colleges with wireless 801.11ac, you might want to point out that the new technology can improve the speed and enable a greater number of students to go online. You should note that it will improve connection stability and make it easier to run voice and video across those connections.
You could also point out that it will be possible to segment the bandwidth so they can divide staff and pupils, and better manage their bandwidth and security.
All these benefits would also appeal to retailers, schools, GP surgeries, garages, lawyers and accountants, cafes, bars and gyms. But by relating the benefits directly to that specific customer's business, the message has much more impact. It makes a real difference.
We've had a lot of success pitching our eight-port PoE switches as an ideal end-point solution for hotels, as they allow a small number of IP devices to be deployed in multiple locations - so you could have one switch providing direct internet access, video, IP telephony and monitoring of the mini-bar for two rooms.
The products obviously have to be able to deliver all these benefits, along with good, reliable performance and RoI, of course. The sale also has to be worthwhile for the reseller. The cheapest probably won't be the best; the most expensive might not be suitable either.
Sell the specific benefits for that customer, rather than letting him or her do all the thinking. We are always talking in our industry about selling the benefits rather than the spec sheets, and it really does work.
We have to remember that most end-user customers don't know what the latest technology can do. They won't know or understand it until we tell them and make the benefits clear to them. We get bombarded with these messages every day; what may seem obvious to us won't necessarily be apparent to the customer.
The networking market is already crowded and it's getting even busier of late. You need to find a way to stand out from the crowd and put the emphasis on value rather than price.
We have seen our partners get some really positive results by focusing on vertical markets. Even when they do this in a very simple way, they get better results than when they try to sell all the benefits of networking to all types of customers.
We're happy to support them in doing that of course, and we believe it is a tactic that many more resellers could use to good effect in 2014.
Antony Byford is UK and Ireland head of channel at ZyXel Communications
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