Many providers are very concerned about being small scale. As a result, most of them bottle up their potential. Upcoming providers should keep In mind that their small size comes with many benefits as well as disadvantages. Small vendors should appreciate and celebrate their size as it’s the first step towards achieving great success in their messaging and sales process.
It’s therefore important to understand that size is relative. If you consider yourself as a smaller provider in Telecom Expense Management, (or if you’re perceived to be one), it will be determined by who it is you compete with. This article highlights the benefits of working with emerging providers as compared to larger competitors.
Agility comes in many ways. Each one with its own set of advantages. The three primary forms of agility that small-scale providers should consider are:
Technical skill- Quick release cycles, less corporate inertia, doesn’t have the “milestone” of outdated technology stack to lag along behind it. IT services that have grown sporadically usually showcase an array of technologies.
Operational agility- Established providers face challenges to key in new capabilities in their user bases, and this reduces their focus on innovation and the advantages that come with it. On the other hand, small service providers don’t struggle with this baggage and can efficiently come up with fresh ideas for new projects.
Commercial agility- Being easy to do business with, having more sense of freedom, and being straightforward with customers are some of the aspects associated with the small provider.
TWO. Commercial Flexibility
This is all about helping the customer or reseller to contract with you and being able to bring out the terms in a way that is acceptable to both of you, while at the same time helping the buyer overcome internal challenges and needs. Commercial flexibility may be seen through the willingness to act n the following:
Ability to accept custom contract terms- Larger providers usually have rigid policies which define standard contract terms and their inability to accommodate even the most insignificant amendments. As a result, buyers who are also trying to appease their internal policy makers are frustrated in the end.
Deferred payment/ extended terms and other business matters- Every level 2 and level 3 consulting and system integrator has cash flow issues. It’s the norm for their business to incur enormous costs upfront on the promise of receiving payment when the project is completed. Such a model makes the provision of extended payment terms a desirable proposition as they strive to make the monthly payroll.
Willingness (and ability) to enter into reciprocal commercial relationships- It is easier for sales to influence their colleagues to make buying decisions that support their sales. Why is this? Here’s why. There is a minimal separation between internal buyers and sellers within a smaller provider organization.
THREE. Ability To Offer Multiple Pricing Models
Relaxed revenue recognition rules give you the freedom to create opportunities that make it easier for your customer to pay. Having a single pricing model is a hindrance that may cause a potential customer to shy away from buying a product or service since its expensive. The only option would be for the customer to reach the “discounting lever.”
It is, therefore, best to offer a wide array of pricing plans that spread the cost in various ways across the lifetime of the contract. This will enable buyers to “afford” your price without the need of having to give away discounts.
FOUR. Commercial Relativity
The relative size of customers compared to the size of the provider’s business means that even smaller customers matter more than they would to a larger provider. The revenue earned from every customer will translate into more material to the growth and survival of the business.
FIVE. Input Into Product Futures/Roadmap
Suggestions for improvement from customers are likely to be more readily accepted. When combined with shrewd technical skills of an emerging provider, then overall success can be expected.
SIX. Lower Overhead
Customers don’t have to contribute toward “fancy” corporate headquarters, any pension deficit or executive jet. Lower overheads translate to more businesses because a provider can create the margins required hence investing more money into development. In addition to this, they can offer a comparable (or lower) price point to a larger provider.
SEVEN. Contained Scope Contentment
Smaller providers are usually “happy to feed on the scraps” that may not be appealing to larger providers. Generally, they are willing to do things that would be unprofitable for larger organizations. This willingness to pursue on smaller projects is especially helpful in the current digital business were “doing the impossible with teams” and “failing fast” are fundamental requirements.
EIGHT. It’s Not Just Business
Its founders are usually still “hands on” with the business, for instance, an IT service management company. They have a special spot for the company in their hearts- and it shows. The creation and active participation in the creation of the business leaves a mark that cannot be erased. All the efforts and personal sacrifices put in by those involved in putting the business to its feet are always remembered. The zeal and passion of seeing the business succeed are their key motivators.
NINE. Resolute Business Focus
This is all about what you do and everything you are. It has a grip on your focus. Being focused on a specific issue or solution can differentiate generalist providers that have widened their scope within a time frame. By focusing solely on what you do, you ensure that it has all your attention, enthusiasm, and energy.
TEN. Responsiveness To Issues
The product development/engineering team and the support team are usually the same things. There is, therefore, no latency between the two. Being in support of the solution means that the development team MUST face the consequences of their actions. Technical problems that are linked to the development process are likely to rebound, and the results that come along with it ensures that consistent maintenance cannot be overlooked in all solution design discussions.
ELEVEN. Higher Average IQ Per Employee
It isn’t always the case, but this can ring a bell with many who have experienced terrible experiences with so-called “seasoned professionals” that work for some large providers. On the other hand, small providers tend to get rid of people who are no longer useful and cannot keep up with mediocrity because they can’t afford to. Employees in the smaller organization will tend to go the extra mile in making a significant contribution to justify their place. Because of this, employees within smaller providers are usually much more actively involved and have a greater understanding of the overall business.
THE BOTTOM LINE...
Providers that can understand their value and show their potential to help their customers succeed irrespective of their organizational size materially are headed for the right direction. Sure, there are sometimes more governance assurances that may be required by buyers that are more cautious, but these "obstacles" shouldn’t stand in your way.
Be clear and open about your size. It is nothing to be ashamed of. After all, every large provider has a story and they started from somewhere. You could be the next big vendor in the market. So go on and shout about it and you’ll be glad you did in the long haul.
Valicom is thrilled to be a boutique vendor and offers white glove service to all customers, including our largest customer with $50Million in telecom spend. We can provide exceptional service for customers at any size!
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About the Author: Nancy Peckham
Nancy began her career in telecommunications in 1983 as an account executive with Republic Telecom, a regional long distance carrier. She was named district sales manager for the Wisconsin region in 1987 when Republic Telecom was acquired by Mid American Communications. She recognized a need for independent, objective telecommunications consulting which led her founding Valicom. Since its launch in 1991, Valicom has been a leader in providing telecom expense management solutions and serves enterprise and mid-market clients in a variety of industries and verticals across the U.S. Nancy earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, founded and served as president of the Telecommunications Professionals of Wisconsin (TPW) from 1989-1992, and was executive vice president on the board of directors of the Society of Telecommunications Consultants (STC). Nancy is also a founding member and executive council chair of the Independent Telecommunications Expense Management Association (i-TEM).