As the great Australian band, the diVinyls sing; “It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain”.
Similarly (or if you really look into the lyrics, not all that similarly) in Carrier IoT sales this statement holds true. A balancing act must be achieved by the Sales and Pricing teams to attract customers with compelling and tailored offers (Pleasure), whilst ensuring downside and risk (Pain) is mitigated. So how is this done?
Whilst increasing numbers of IoT customers are entering the market, there is still great competition between carriers to attract and sign these customers, and so the limits of contract innovation are being pushed by all areas of Carriers organisation to win the large deals.
What contract techniques are your Sales and Pricing teams using to woo the IoT customer?
Are they working or are you losing out to competitors? And are these techniques proving to be a headache financially or operationally later on?
In my experience, it is often not a lack of innovation or imagination in the Pricing or Sales teams that lose the deal, but the inability to implement this innovation into the contracts because the business support systems and processes cannot support it.
Billing capability is a major, if not the main culprit here… Too often I have heard that Pricing teams have come up with a compelling and likely deal winning contract only to be chastened by their billing vendor and system.
Here are a few automated and successful pricing ideas for different customer types:
Global Customers – Global Sim highly competitive process
Enticement: Activation volume based tiered charging, Activation hardware charges rebates, , Expensive network roaming discounts, Tiered charging by location, Allow for flexible allowance sizes based on monthly usage ups and downs, Auto-purchase more single month allowance if required
Mitigation: Activation number commitments, Minimum Spend, Location based access fees calculated monthly, Catch all tariff table for uncontracted roaming
Companies new to IoT (Med – High Risk, Startups) - Customer requires low entrance costs and a competitive bid
Enticement: Reduce SIMs and hardware costs upfront, incentivise activation through activation SIM rebates, Volume based plan structures
Mitigation: Sim Suspension rules, SIM non-tolling thresholds, SIM lifecycle charges, Enforce Activation Commitments, Self Service - reduce cost to serve, reporting notifications to Carrier staff for enforcement
Can your billing system do all of the above automatically now?
If not it’s time to have a look around because your competitors can and they are winning deals!
99% of IOT and M2M articles I have ever read start by quoting the incredible projections of connected devices we will see in the future, not to mention the masses of data this will produce and the myriad of uses this data could be put to. This is all very well, but for Telecommunication carriers and MVNOs to actually realise revenue from all this, customer acquisition and the ability to bill these customers are fundamental to un-tap the potential boon being touted.
M2M is different to previous mobile products in terms of how tailored a plan or offering must be to attract a potential customer. Different industries have different needs as do different companies within those industries. If you consider also the advent of the Global M2M sim which is what we are seeing more and more, tailoring a customer offering often results in an extremely complex pricing schedule with global network allowances, inclusions and exclusions and SIM lifecycle billing implications to name a few of the problem areas.
..more than ever the sales process is inextricably linked to billing capability ..
Traditionally, billing is a reactive part of a telecommunications carrier business, meaning that Marketing or Sales generally come up with ideas and billing are consulted as to whether it is possible to achieve or not. In my experience with M2M/IOT, generally the answer is "No", or "with some development…Yes". This approach to carrier billing does not suit the M2M customer acquisition process.
Success for M2M carriers in the highly competitive M2M sphere hinges on:
More than ever with M2M the sales process is inextricably linked to the billing capability of the carrier and their vendors. Therefore successful carriers will take a more collaborative approach by including the billing experts and vendors in the Sales and Marketing process.
Sales and Billing must work together like never before to fine tune propositions and offerings for specific customers – bring the billing vendor into the conversation.
Is your vendor on the journey with you or are they hindering your progress?
As such, your M2M billing vendor needs to be M2M experienced but more importantly.. ENGAGED in order to:
In summary, M2M success requires a new type of billing vendor and the questions you must ask yourself as a Carrier or MVNO selling M2M solutions are:
Simon Coyne, Director, Altercomglobal.com