Thanks to the increased popularity of this blog, I’ve started to receive a fair number of questions from carrier sales people right across North America (and, I love talking about M2M, so feel free to reach out). A number of questions focus on the same principle and sound something like this: I cover a pretty large geographical territory, one that has many different verticals in it. I want to find the best targets for M2M, but I don’t know where to start. Where should I be targeting for the “lowest hanging fruit?
This is a very good question, and one that I can only really give a pretty generic answer to in this forum because each territory is different in terms of competition. So I will recommend some general places to look, but there is no guarantee that these customers haven’t already been signed up. You may also be interested in registering for a free webinar I am hosting on Sept 9 called Maximizing M2M Sales by Vertical.
Here are four good questions to ask your customers to get started on M2M:
1. What kinds of information do you send across your Internet connection on a daily basis?
For most companies, items such as email, purchase orders for products and Internet-based communication with their customers/suppliers are pretty standard. For many other companies, a lot of financial transactions (such as Point of Sales reports, acceptance of credit/debit cards and credit score lookups) are also part of the equation. There are very few companies that do not have a strong need for a reliable Internet connection for them to operate successfully. As well, a reliable Internet connection is becoming even more important as companies look to reduce costs by having more employees work remotely....if your connection to your main office is down, they are pretty much doing nothing.
The level of importance to using a cellular modem as a backup to your main Internet connection can be calculated using an ROI tool in some cases (such as if the company accepts credit/debit cards, you can predict possible lost revenue), but the main question to ask is: What happens to your business if your main line is down for 5 mins....1 hour... or even a full day? The greater the impact that the loss of Internet would have, the better candidate they are for a modem-based solution to back up each office or location.
2. Do you have remote assets in the field, and do they have a connection port?
I once had a customer that was interested in connecting a wireless modem to some very old pieces of machinery (namely commercial-sized washing machines used in hospitals). He was stunned to find that even on these really old machines, there was a serial port on them, allowing for information to be gathered about the device remotely.
The value of the information gathered will depend on what the relationship is with the company to assets in the field. If the company is the manufacturer of the device, they may want to know how the device is being used, how are many of the key parts holding up and are there any design changes that can be made to better reflect how the device is actually being used.
If the company provides sales/servicing support for the machine, they are going to be most concerned about things such as whether the device is working as expected, alerted for any error codes that may have happened and being able to bring the device back online (over the air) in the event of downtime.
And....one needs to look in places that traditionally have not been the focus of many efforts. There aren’t too many pipelines and Utility meters that aren’t well monitored, but the same cannot be said for larger photocopiers, remote entertainment devices (such as photo booths in the mall, arcade style video games), Industrial machines of all kinds, garbage bins, etc. The return on investment can vary, and it will be better for some markets than others, but there aren’t many assets that can’t be monitored, and very few situations that there is no gain to a remote monitoring solution.
3. Do you have a plan in the case of an emergency?
There are few places in North America that aren’t prone to some sort of natural disaster, as I have written in the past. Regardless of what may happen, many companies do not have any sort of disaster planning in place. For others who may have geographically diverse operations, it may not be as much of an issue, but most SMB customers don’t have that luxury. The same modem that can be used to provide a backup for your main Internet connection can also be used as a primary connection while your current line is unavailable.
And, speaking of unavailable....
4. Do you have any new stores/locations planned?
This one may be not as widespread among your base of customers, but I am surprised to hear how many customers have had delays with new locations being opened because their landline Internet connection was not available on opening day. Many retailers are noticing this more than others, and we have seen some forward thinking IT staff members keep a cellular modem or two available to help bridge any possible gaps between the opening of the location and the availability of the line. In fact, for many stores, they found that the performance of the 4G product was so good that they never bothered to have the landline put in at all.
Every market is different, so it may require that your approach to your customer base may have to ask different questions. That is what we are here for.....reach out to me to help drive your M2M sales!
As always, let Novotech know how we can help with your M2M needs, such as modem selection. You can browse our site or 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).