Hosted Communications with Unified Communications (UC) has been around for a number of years and, in most circles, it is considered an acceptable and useful solution. However, last week I listen to some continue to express difficulties that they had positioning and installing hosted communications and UC solutions. I certainly want to think the IT Expo panel participants from Xact Communications, Skyswitch, Sotel and CoreDial for providing their industry experience and expertise. Interesting, the bulk of the conversation was spent on subjects that for many of us have become old hat. Questions arose as to what is Unified Communications? What is meant by “mobility”? How do I overcome the cost of transitioning to hosted communications? Why doesn’t it work? I don’t want to cover definitions in this blog because I think there are lots of resources defining hosted communications, its features and primary benefits. Instead, I want to address how to move beyond the marketing jargon to more effective value propositions and positioning statements.
We all seem to understand that selling features is a non-starter for solution selling. However, it appears we need to improve our ability to link benefits to features to value. For example: Hosted Communications and may other solutions are discussed as improving productivity (benefit). The features that support this categorization are simultaneous ringing, find me/follow me, presence, instant messaging and web conferencing. It is at this point where marketing and sales falters. It is assumed that the buyer will intuitively see the value of these features and move along in the decision process. The persistent difficulty is quantifying productivity gains resulting from the acquisition and adoption of new solutions. It takes a little research but with nearly every solution that delivers productivity improvements, there is data quantifying the gain. It is usually in terms of time or number of people. In both cases, time and people can always be translated into hard dollars.
If the issue is time savings then with very little effort, we can translate time into money. For example, if a given feature saves 15 minutes per day for 25% of the employees in 100-person Company X, then with the average wages of the employees we can calculate the real dollar savings for a day, month or year.
According to the Social Security Administration the average wage in 2015 was $48,098.63 per year or 39¢ per minute. Therefore:
Savings per day for Company X = cost per minute times minutes per day time the number of effected employees or
Savings per day for Company X = (0.39*15*25) or $146.25
Multiplying this by the number of business days in the year results in an annual savings of $38,025 or an amount worthy of consideration by any business manager.
This is real money or time freed up for employees to address other business tasks or activities which can benefit the business or its customers. That’s how the discussion needs to be structured when objective information is required to move the sale along. IT, accounting and operations personnel usually understand these types of costs quite well. It is very important to for Marketing and Sales to complete the value statement by linking benefit to primary feature to actual value.
While this Raven Guru Marketing blog has used Hosted Communications and UC as the solution example, this type of analysis and quantification can be applied to any solution and any size company. We do not believe it will be needed for every sale, but it certainly should be available.