Saturday, July 20, 2013

Copper Phone Lines – End of the Road or Just the Beginning?

As the Bell companies continue to migrate their service focus away from their legacy copper networks, pushing new technologies like FIOS, Ethernet, fiber, satellite, and wireless, are businesses witnessing the end of an era?

Copper lines are in every neighborhood
Copper phone lines have been around since the invention of the telephone in the late 1800’s.  Alexander Graham Bell is credited with designing the first electromagnetic  telephone in 1876.  Copper lines have been in use ever since.  The number of copper lines in the United States peaked at 186 million in 2000.  Since then, more than 100 million lines have been replaced with newer technologies.

Today, the legacy copper network is expensive for the incumbent local carriers to maintain, and they continue to move resources out of the copper network and into the new transport methods.  The copper wire gets wet during storms and corrodes, causing outages and requiring constant repairs.  But what happens to us, the consumer, who has relied on “copper” to form the backbone of our national communications networks for the last 130 years?

Manholes can be a disaster for a repair tech
The decision by the bell companies to reduce their support structure for their legacy networks has opened a door of opportunity for a few wholesalers to enter the market and offer consolidated billing services, discounted rates, and an exceptional customer experience.  While it’s common to hit an IVR platform, and be placed in a call queue for up to 20 minutes when calling your local phone companies, using a wholesaler can deliver calls answered by a live person, within as little as 8 seconds, 24x7x365.

Another benefit delivered by these wholesale providers is the ability to consolidate billing across traditional company boundaries.  If you own a 
multi-location business, and have offices in Verizon territory in the northeast, locations in AT&T’s footprint in the south, and others in Centurylink’s territory in the northwest,  you now have the capability to combine all these locations on to a single invoice, with a single point of contact for all your moves, adds, changes, new installs, billing questions, etc.  The service comes with an online web portal, providing your business with unmatched visibility to your services, circuit inventories, repair tickets, adds, changes, and installs.

As the wholesalers work through agreements with the various bell operating companies, switching your services to one of their platforms is as simple as signing a “Letter of Authorization” or “LOA”, and having an electronic transfer occur.  The lines physically remain on the Bell network, with only the customer service and billing functions being moved.

The best part of all is because of the massive buying volumes the wholesalers bring to the market, among all these benefits comes the best one of all, a reduction in price of up to 30% off tariffed rates.

If you are interested in learning how to take advantage of a wholesale arrangement for your business, please reach out to me @davehanron on Twitter or email me at and I’ll be happy to assist you.

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Friend’s Perspective on Your Business

A Friend’s Perspective on Your Business

Over my 25+ years as a sales professional, I’ve come to realize that none of us will ever know all there is to know about any of our professions…..and sales may perhaps be the hardest one of all to conquer.

I’ve attended dozens of conferences and seminars, hundreds of webcasts, internal training, external training, new hire training, I even once took a course on how to train.  Still, with all this training, I will never fully understand all there is about selling.

I have worked with loads of other sales professionals…. some old, some young, many my age, and learned something good or bad from each and every one of them.  In our early years, it seems easy to pick up closing techniques, prospecting tricks, and perceived shortcuts to success.  Later in my career, I’ve found it more likely to observe people using methods that involve new styles, like social media, SEO, self-branding, and using other modern systems to succeed.  Today, the information available to us through the internet is almost infinite.

But to put this all into perspective, is using Hoover’s or Jigsaw or Linkedin to research companies and prospects any better than the old school method of “dialing for dollars” out of the phone book?  I’m not sure; I guess it would depend on what works for you….

But over the years, I have learned that the best method to get a neutral perspective on how your sales pitch works is to simply run it by one of your personal friends.  I have a lot of friends outside of sales and many work in fields completely removed from my product line.  There is no better test for your pitch than running it by one of your friends who has no idea whatsoever what you really do for work and what you really sell.

If you can maintain the interest of your friends with your sales pitch and at the end of your five minute pitch, they understand your product,  you’re on the right track.  I have even had the pleasure of hearing some great ideas from some of my friends which I have put into play and had great success with.  I consider this a bonus, but it happens more than you think.  It just takes you to practice perhaps the hardest sales skill of all…Listening!

So the next time you’re at a lunch, a ballgame, a cookout, or perhaps on the golf course with one of your friends, take a couple minutes and give him or her your pitch.  You might be surprised at what comes of it…and you might even discover they have a great contact or two for your to reach out to.  They had them all the time but never truly understood what you did or what you sold?  

But be prepared...good friends are brutally honest.  Just as quickly as they'll tell you your clothes don't match or you car is filthy, they'll tell you your delivery stinks!  If after you've finished, they still have no idea what you sell, you need to go back to the drawing board and rework your story.

I'm looking forward to hearing how successful you are in the coming weeks after you try this technique.  If there's someone's friend out there who's had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of someone's sales speech, I enjoy hearing about that too.

So let's get out there and engage our Friends!