How to sell SD-WAN business
Remember how in the first part of the blockbuster film “Men in Black”, combat training students briskly shoot at cardboard monsters in all directions, and only the hero of Will Smith, after a little deliberation, “brought out the brains” of a cardboard girl who had a book on quantum physics? And here, it would seem, SD-WAN? And everything is very simple: today there are no sales of solutions of this class in Russia. We have been working on the topic of SD-WAN for more than three years, spent hundreds of man-days on it, invested in training engineers, in laboratories and stands, presales, presentations, demonstrations, tests, tests, tests ... But how many implementations? Not at all!
I would like to speculate on the reasons for this fact and talk about the conclusions that we made together with colleagues from Cisco based on an analysis of our experience.
We at Jet Infosystems really love the SPIN sales technique. It is based on the fact that selling is not a monologue, not reading out a leaflet, but a dialogue. Moreover, the seller should talk less and ask more questions: situational, problematic, extracting and guiding.
The main task is to bring the interlocutor to the idea that he needs to buy what you want to sell him.
A couple of years ago there was a classic example of interviewing a seller in a pen trading company.
“Why do you use pens at all?”
- Actually, everything has been on the computer and the Internet for a long time. I use a pen only to sign documents.
- Among these documents, probably, there are contracts?
- Oh sure.
- And were there among the contracts you signed that you remembered for a lifetime?
- Oh sure.
- I think so too. After all, these are, first of all, memories. Memories of your victories and achievements. You can sign an ordinary document with any pen, the cheapest. But isn’t it worth making the signing of such important, landmark contracts a special pen intended for special occasions? Looking at it, you will remember how it was and smile?
- Interesting idea.
“So look at that pen.” Maybe this is her?
- Good, good, sold, little devil!
Sometimes this approach works great, and I had a very interesting experience in such sales! But not with SD-WAN.
Overseas will NOT help us
It is typical that the situation with the sale of SD-WAN solutions abroad is exactly the opposite, that is, it’s very wonderful! No special difficulties arise there. The reason is the impressive cost of MPLS channels, many times more expensive than Internet channels. As soon as we say that we can “remove” some of the traffic from MPLS to the Internet and save a lot on this - consider that the sale has taken place.
In Russia, the cost of MPLS and Internet channels is comparable, and in some cases the former are even cheaper. Having recently talked to a colleague from the Big Four operator, I was surprised to learn that in the operator community MPLS is not taken seriously as an internal network. Here is the Internet - yes, this is serious, access to the big world!
SD-WAN techies don't really need to sell. In our practice, there was only one case when the head of the technical department said that he has DMVPN, and everything suits him. Usually technically literate citizens are well aware that they will give SD-WAN. And then they go to business - and don't get a budget. Or they immediately understand that they will not receive, and therefore do not even go. But purely out of sports interest, they are happy to start testing.
We should think about these facts early, but everything happens when he needs to happen.
Once I came to a respected person with my solo stand-up (because I did not know what questions to ask him). I was allocated an entire hour, but was interrupted after fifteen minutes.
- Listen. This is all, of course, interesting. But do you know what digital transformation is? And then I hear from all sides, but I don’t understand anything.
And I accidentally was a little up to date, because I said that this is a philosophical concept that claims that everything living in the world is mortal. Including any business. Without exception.
Therefore, the digital transformation is about threats that may not come from where it comes from, and about the opportunities that the same threats give to the most agile. And then the fun began.
Dear man picked up the phone, called somewhere and said:
“Hey, digital transformation is about threats and opportunities, and not about digitalization, which you talk to me about.”
I hung up the phone.
- Does this your SD-WAN fit here?
And then we had a dialogue for the remaining 45 minutes.
And then something clicked in my head. I still did not understand anything, but at last I began to analyze. Very few people understand what digital transformation is, and how it differs from digitalization. While there is no standard, how many people - so many opinions.
By and large, digital transformation is a concept whose essence is to remind managers of the limited lifespan of their companies.
Leap of Faith
We offer to stop, think and stop shooting at the "monsters" who are not to blame for anything. We need to find the right target.
Look closely at the sales chart. For the sale to take place, you should focus on the lower right quadrant. To do this, we believe that we need to approach the sale of SD-WAN as a Lean startup.
The key word here is a startup! A start-up starts with a “leap of faith”, a kind of assumption that (ideally) needs to be verified. Note the important: SD-WAN practically guarantees an improvement in customer experience.
We did just that: together with colleagues from Cisco, we began to do pilot projects. At my own expense. And already on the “live” network of customers, they found profits from the introduction of SD-WAN, which was impossible to guess in advance.
For example, we had a case when calls to the contact center stopped picking up. This happened because the SD-WAN began to quickly switch channels in case of quality deterioration. A missed call in a call center is a lost customer. But this business understands this: there is a problem - there is a solution!
SD-WAN is pretty easy for techies to sell, but extremely difficult for businesses. Therefore, the sale of SD-WAN to a business should be seen as a startup, that is, joint partisan work of the customer, integrator and vendor. And this approach, we are sure, will lead to success!
Posted by Denis Dyzhin, Business Development Director, Jet Infosystems Network Solutions Center