Through this blog, and my day to day work, I do get a lot of calls and emails from people at various organizations who have been tasked to sell different M2M solutions.  This ranges from Cellular network salespeople, to salespeople from dealers of cell carriers to hardware manufacturers and to software/integration companies.  While many people understand the basics components of a solution, there is a lot of worry about how to put it all together, how to position it to a customer and how to know about a customer's business enough to even know if they are a good candidate for it.

This is the first portion of a tutorial series on how to sell M2M solutions....

Phase 1 - "I don't even know where to look for a good candidate"

Phase 2 - "Ok, they seem interested...how do I position this solution to them?  What should I know about their business to properly position the solution?"

Phase 3 - "Ok, they are interested and agree that it will help their business.  How do I go about selecting the perfect hardware/software/solution management package?"

Phase 4 - "They agree with the solution and want to do a field trial to prove that it works"

Phase 5 - "The trial went well, and we received a purchase order.....how do we deploy this effectively and quickly?"

Phase 6 - "The deployment went well....how do I manage this customer, post-deployment?"

So, the solution has been deployed, and the customer's cheque has cleared.....but, you are far from done.  Some things that you still have to do include:

Validate the ROI  When you first proposed the solution to the customer, the reasoning behind it was probably either to make them more money (i.e. increase collection of revenue / increase productivity to allow for more sales per hour) or save them money (i.e. decrease clerical costs, lower fuel consumption).  Has the solution done this?  If not, when will it start to do so?

Prepare a case study / reference  This may not apply to every customer, as many of them do not wish to tell the world what they have been up to, especially their competitors.  However, many companies like to inform their customers how they are going to be better serving them by the addition of technology or even scare their competition.  Preparing a case study allows for customers who may be in a similar situation (not even necessarily in the same vertical/geographic space) to see how another company dealt with these issues and how they are better for it.  As well, it is always great to see if you can use this customer as a reference for other customers who may wish to ask questions.  

Set up long-term support   Once the solution has been deployed, you want to ensure that the support system that you set up (whether you helped the customer be able to monitor themselves or if you are providing support services) is meeting the requirements that were laid out.

Set up recurring meetings  For many deals involving on-going support, post-deployment meetings will be normally agreed to in the early stages of the solution.  However, it is still a great idea to check back often with your customer for a few reasons.  First, if the solution was successful and they are a growing company, you may be able to expand the solution/number of units to the customer.  Next, you want to ensure that parts of the solution (especially pieces of hardware) are holding up well.  This may be due to physical abuse, may be checking to see if the level of storage is sufficient.  Finally, checking to see if the server/platform is handling spikes in usage, whether they were planned for not.  

Repeat business  Many solutions may have a shorter shelf life, due to the quick changing world of technology.  You want to ensure that you are bringing new ideas to your customer, so that you are top of mind when it comes to any future refreshes in technology.