Over the past few weeks, we here at Novotech have taken a bit of a shot at the analysts for their rapid growth projections in the M2M space (Important legal note:  No analyst was harmed in any manner by our actions during the creation of our blogs/rants). 

However, I do notice one interesting trend.....as the level of growth in M2M continues at a strong pace, the level of interest and talk from cellular carriers is beginning to really accelerate at an even faster rate.  I only wish that the amount of action taken would match....So, why "all talk, no action?”  Just to be clear, there is SOME action…..just not nearly as much as one would expect, based on the level of talk.

Here are a few thoughts (and, by the way, these thoughts have been expressed to me, so they are real, as crazy as they might be)…

"I am expecting the M2M trend will go away"

Ok, this one caught me off-guard, as it has come from more than one person in the carrier world!  They were likely the same people who thought that the “Voicemail”, ”BlackBerry" and "iPhone" trends would go away.

The reason?  Well, they like things how they were when they first started.  These are often legacy voice-only salespeople who never liked the idea of using this "wireless data crap".  You can often spot them....they are the ones who still use Rolodexes and complain that things were better in the Mad Men days where there were plenty of pretty secretaries and the desks were filled with Scotch.

As we are starting to see this generation of salespeople move on or retire, this is becoming less and less of a concern.  However, many of the people in this mindset are still making key decisions in many of the companies who need to sell M2M the most.

"It doesn't help me to retire my quota"

This one comes from virtually every element of the technology world, ranging from cellular carriers, to IT sales to some of the larger SI.  Many of them have quotas that: are geared either towards other areas of wireless/technology; are not able to recognize much of the revenue from an M2M solution; or in some cases, are outright discouraged from pursuing solutions with lead times as long as M2M can be. 

Hopefully, we can change this on a few accounts.  First, canned solutions and solutions that provide quick integration are shortening the sales cycle dramatically.  As well, many salespeople are finding that with the combination of a saturated handset/smartphone market and a not-increasing ARPU, they have no choice but to look for alternative things to sell....and M2M fits in nicely.

However, we need sales management to wake up to what is required for M2M.  Salespeople need to be given the flexibility to pursue these opportunities.  They need to be able to recognize the revenue that is not derived from airtime, they need to be able to go “a bit off-leash” to be able to go after longer (yet stickier) sales and they need to have the resources to complete many of these sales.

"I am afraid to ask a question, as I won't be able to answer the question that comes back"

This reminds me of the old adage in law...."never ask a question in court that you don't already know the answer to".  For sales, one of the scariest things is to ask a question and to have questions come back that you can't answer.  No one likes to seem dumb, so many salespeople do not bother to ask the question.  Unfortunately, your competitors won't have the same concerns.

Salespeople in the wireless space need to start to expand their knowledge base, and sometimes, this does mean that you get caught flat-footed.  It has happened to all of us, and the best response is "I'd love to bring someone in who is an expert on this, as I am sure that they can find ways to help your business better than even I could".  Then, you give me a call!”  =)

"I don't know whom in the company to approach about this"

Many people are not aware of this, but for most of the history of cell phones, the decision as to which cellphone (and later, which smartphone) was often made by a clerk in your purchasing department.  They bought the best phone (meaning the cheapest) for most employees and the high ranking staff got to pick their own phone.  So, for many years, wireless salespeople never had to go anywhere else but Purchasing.

This started to change with the introduction of more intelligent smartphones that made it possible to do so much more, and has grown even further with the boom in tablet use.  However, this meant that many salespeople now dealt with two departments, IT and Purchasing....neither of which had a lot of interest in solutions that can revolutionize Operations, Finance, Customer service, etc.

We need to get M2M solutions (and their benefits, more specifically) in the hands of the people who need their benefits the most.  So, it means picking up the phone and actually finding out whom in these respective departments to talk to.  Remember, your competitors might do it instead of you....however, there is a group that is already doing it.

Many IT service companies (especially Tier 1 SI) will happily look after telling your customers about M2M for you, if you do not do it.  These companies are ramping up their offerings as we speak, and for the most part, they do not have any issues getting in front of executives across your customer base.  So, they can pitch the benefits of M2M, often offering complete solutions.  This leaves the carrier to fight for the activation, which is leading to its commoditization.

Bottom line

New technology always scares the heck out of people, but never more than the people who are tasked to sell it.  We need to get better tools in the hands of these front-liners, show them how to better present and sell it and then support them in their efforts.  If we don't, we will watch our roles be minimized in front of our eyes.

As always, Novotech is ready to assist with your M2M needs. Whether you’re looking to control, track, monitor or back-up, Novotech has the solutions and products you need. View our Line Cards and let us know how we can be of assistance.

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