The multi-location customer can provide tremendous reward to a telecom agent. While these accounts tend to be more complex and require a great deal of service attention, the time and effort is well worth it when approached properly.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with many significant multi-location accounts and have learned, sometimes through trial and er- ror, some of the key ingredients to making these profitable accounts worth the effort. Below are a few of the lessons learned from successful multi- location deployments.
Offer flexibility in your service offering. Trying to push new technology such as VoIP simply because it’s the most modern or offers you the highest mar- gins won’t always be the best strategy. Businesses often have important reasons for retaining legacy systems. Included in these are re-training issues, needed backup/emergency capability or simply resis- tance to change. Consider also that individual locations may have distinct needs or constraints. It will be important to position yourself as flexible versus rigid in your offer, even if it means giving up a few commission dollars in the short term.
Recognize the administrative efficiencies you can deliver. While cost savings are most likely the deciding factor behind a change in one’s telecommunications providers, don’t underestimate the opportunity to provide streamlined billing and tracking. Many companies, even fairly large ones, do not have up-to-date capabilities to centrally understand their telecom costs. Your ability to address those needs, in addition to reducing their costs, may be enough to push them into consider- ing making a change.
Treat every location as a unique customer. Even if you made your sale through a company’s headquarters, your job is to make each and every on-site manager happy. In the end, it is those individuals on the ground that will make or break the ongoing relationship. It is likely that any renewal will include a polling of opinion “from the field.” You’ll want those people to feel special and serviced as if you sold them directly.
Utilize the right master agent/carrier partner. Depending on the geographic footprint of a potential customer, select carrier partnerships will be more advantageous in delivering a superior service solution.
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of specific master agents and their carrier relationships will enable you to deliver not only competitive costs but also excellent service.
Finally, micro-manage any service transition. Assuming your job is over once a new customer signs up is very short-sighted. A renewal three years down the road is often solidified in the first few months of service. Consider assigning a “dedicated” service team member, so there’s a clear sense of accountability. Make sure that you walk your new customers through each new invoice, as the charges will seem unfamiliar and may call into question the savings you have promised. This extra work will undoubtedly pay dividends in getting customers to renew, as well as considering additional services.
As you can see, winning and retaining multi-location accounts is not that easy. However, if you approach these opportunities with the right partners, with flexibility and with attention to detail, the hard work can result in a lucrative long-term customer.