Vendors are facing some of the toughest trading conditions ever. It has never been so difficult to ‘sell’ to operators. It’s not just uncontrollable macro-economic factors that are frustrating vendor sales and marketing efforts. The manner in which operators buy has changed. However, many vendors are not changing how they market and sell in response to new operator buying habits. ConneCt from CCgroup.
To address the challenge, we undertook a comprehensive analysis of operator procurement processes. Our ConneCt study reveals the communications platforms that drive vendor inclusion in operator procurement, the influencing factors when shortlisting, and the critical factors in vendor selection. Here are some of the key top-level findings:
What are the most influential platforms that drive RFX inclusion?
- Unsurprisingly, having an existing relationship with the operator running the RFX – the enormous significance of peer relationships stresses the importance of industry networking to build and develop fruitful connections
- Professional analysts are critical in building influence – both internal business analysts and external industry analysts
- Industry events are still valued by operator executives when it comes to technology decision making – mostly in terms of building those networks mentioned in the first point
- Media coverage and presence is listed as an important part of the armoury, especially given its influence over other communications platforms such as internal analysts and tradeshows.
What factors influence operators’ shortlisting of potential suppliers?
- Yet again, having a previous relationship and familiarity with the supplier was rated the highest influencing factor.
- The reputation and market profile of a vendor was the second most influential factor on RFX selection and shortlisting.
- Anecdotal conversation suggests that the manner in which this reputation and profile is ‘realised’ is through channels such as media prominence, positioning in analyst reports, award wins and presence on the speaker circuit.
What factors influence which vendor is finally selected?
- Price rears its head at decision time – but overall, operators are more concerned about value. They want to understand costs saved, revenues generated, business models advanced or protected, or opportunities created as a result of a particular vendor’s solution.
- Vendors must prove their capability to deliver. Operators are unwilling to take ‘chances’ on untried and untested vendors and technologies. They require “proof” and evidence of claims made.
- Vendors must demonstrate practical vision through a roadmap for future solutions and post-sales support is a critical hygiene factor. Substance – demonstrating value, delivery and understanding are more important at this stage in an RFX process.
How can vendors better engage with telecoms operators?
To succeed, sales and marketing teams must expect and demand more of each other. Accessing and influencing the operator procurement process is intensely challenging for vendors today – but it can be done extremely effectively. It demands a symbiotic relationship between sales and marketing functions and the integration of various communications to deliver the campaigns that will make the difference.
A copy of the full research findings and key recommendations on how to successfully navigate this process are contained within the ConneCt white paper, available here.
Paul Nolan, Head of Telecoms and Mobile at CCgroup – a GlobalCom PR Network partner in the UK
last modified August 1, 2013