Everywhere I turn lately, it seems M2M (often under its codenames of "the Internet of Things" or "the Internet of Everything") is everywhere. It is being mentioned in boardrooms all across the world, at the Economic Forum in Switzerland and undoubtedly, at every Cellular Carrier headquarters in the world.
One thing I have noticed, however, is how apprehensive the average Carrier sales professional is to sell these solutions, let alone much of the sales staff at the average retail store. To address this, Carriers have brought on more seasoned sales and technical staff (called everything from "Solutions Architects" to "Data Specialists" to "Application Consultants") to help complete the sales cycles. However, for our industry to achieve the growth that we all know that it can, we need to improve the M2M sales skills of all wireless salespeople, including those in the mall. One only has to look at the success that RIM had selling its Blackberry in the early part of last decade. This success was partly due to the fact that it was a revolutionary device, but more importantly, it was a product that the Carrier sales teams found both easy to sell and could make a lot of money doing so.
So, what is holding us back?
So, how do we fix this? How do we get M2M to move from being a niche application to being more mainstream / easy to sell for the average cellular salesperson?
Embrace the cloud and hosted solutions
One great success story in the world of M2M among cellular Carriers is the success that many salespeople have had (and continue to have) selling canned/hosted solutions for Fleet Management and basic data entry such as mobile forms. These solutions have proven to be very easy to sell, provided a good source of revenue for the carrier (which means that they go a long way towards the salesperson achieving their sales targets) and have been promoted in a way that appeals to a wide base of customers. We need to see both the Carriers and solution providers structure their M2M offerings in ways that can reduce the sales complexity (and sales cycle), and to find ways to better arm the front-line salespeople with easy to show ROI calculations that are as general as possible. Most Carrier salespeople remember the old Blackberry sales pitch about how it saved the average worker 50 minutes (send me a note if I remembered this wrong) a day, and how easy that was to calculate its value. This was an effective approach to almost any business, and we need to use this approach with M2M.
Make the compensation plans better reflect the world of M2M
Again, compensation = behaviour. When you fail to compensate people who receive a large portion of their financial reward based on how they do against their sales target, you can't blame them for focusing on the products that allow them to hit this goal the quickest. As well, the financial world needs to take some blame for this, as much of the focus of carrier's financial performance was based on how well they were able to grow their net activation total, as well as their ARPU. Since M2M sales tends to be much lower in revenue, these sales tended to have a negative impact on ARPU. I think both of these things are starting to be addressed already. We are seeing the financial world accepting the idea of separating ARPU totals into different categories, such as Smartphone and M2M and we are seeing some Carrier salespeople being rewarded for other parts of the sale (including service revenue and hardware) to make it easier to justify focusing on M2M.
Look for a new breed of salespeople
Now, I want to make it clear that I am not advocating anyone losing their job. When I use the term "a new breed of salespeople", most existing Carrier salespeople have the skill set to be able to achieve great success in this new world of M2M. What we need to do is to start developing an overall change in the skill set of the average carrier salesperson. We need to start to attract people who have backgrounds in areas that we have not focused on before....such as analytics, finance, operations and field service. We need to start to focus our sales teams on things that bring value to their business in ways that they have not focused on before, and as such, we need to bring in skills that allow people to better "talk the talk" of CIOs, CFOs and CTOs. Finally, we need to start to see people who understand more about the world of IT enter in to our space, since M2M solutions often require integration into key ERP and CRM systems.
As always, let Novotech know how we can help with your M2M needs. You can visit our web page @ www.novotech.com. As well, feel free to reach out to me directly ....larry(@)novotech.com. You can also follow us on Twitter (@NovotechM2M) and you can follow me personally as well (@LBNovotechM2M).