Archive for the ‘Business Development & Sales’ Category

Alcatel-Lucent gets $1 billion Reliance Communications contract

January 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Indian company outsources management of fixed and mobile networks to vendor, including transfer of thousands of staff.

Telecommunications-equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent Wednesday said it received a $1 billion contract to manage Reliance Communications Ltd.’s telecommunications networks for eight years in eastern and southern India.

The contract comes at a time when equipment companies such as Alcatel-Lucent are facing a major challenge in India, as local telecom operators have slowed down investment.

India’s telecom market is one of the largest in the world, with the number of telecom subscribers second only to China’s. But local telecom operators are facing regulatory uncertainty and, for about a year, a shrinkage in subscriber additions.

Click here to find out more!Mumbai-based Reliance Communications, part of Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Group, is India’s second-largest mobile phone companies with about 130 million subscribers.

Reliance Communications will outsource network management for both its wireless and fixed-line operations to Alcatel-Lucent, the companies said in a joint statement.

As part of the deal, about 4,000 employees will be shifted to Alcatel-Lucent from Reliance Communications, Gurdeep Singh, chief executive of Reliance Communications’ wireless business, told reporters in Mumbai.

Alcatel-Lucent India Managing Director Munish Seth said the deal is one of the local unit’s “largest and most strategic contracts” to date.

Currently, Reliance Communications’ wireless networks are managed by its equally owned joint venture with Alcatel-Lucent. The term of the joint venture, which was formed in 2008, will end in June.

Reliance Communications said it will make a separate announcement on managing its networks in the western and northern regions.

Reliance Communications’ rivals Bharti Airtel Ltd. and the local unit of Vodafone Group PLC also outsource network-management operations.

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Getting Prospects to Return Your Phone Calls

July 9, 2011 Leave a comment

When you review your list of phone calls you have made to prospective clients, you note these initials, or similar codes, that you wrote beside numerous names every month: HCB (He’ll call back) and SCB (She’ll call back). But do they, without additional
prompting from us? Often they do not.

So we wonder, “How can I increase the percentage of prospects who return my initial phone call?”

ONE: More than once, state the name of a prominent person who referred you. Open the call, not with your own name (“Hi, I’m Bill Lampton”), but with the referring party’s name: “Harley Smith suggested that you might be interested in hearing about my services.” Then close with, “As I said earlier, our mutual friend Harley Smith prompted me to call you.”

TWO: Mention a specific point you want to talk with them about. “I’ll appreciate the chance to hear your feedback about the bid
I sent you last week.”

THREE: Mention how the call will benefit them. “When you return my call, I will explain how my services can improve your
company’s employee morale and customer service at the same time.”

FOUR: Suggest a specific date/time: “I will be in my office tomorrow morning between 9:00 and 12:00, and I hope you get an
opportunity to call me then.” This suggests that a returned call in that span won’t initiate long-term telephone tag.

FIVE: Give the recipient the privilege of setting the preferred date/time: “I’m going to give you my E-mail address now.
Will you please send me a short message, mentioning what day and time are convenient for us to talk? I will keep my line clear for your return call then.”

SIX: Promise to keep the return call brief: “When you return my call, I promise to take no more than three minutes of your
time. You can hang up if I’m not finished by then.”

SEVEN: Confine your message to three or four sentences, even with a receptionist. If the executive assistant or voice mail
message identifies you as longwinded, you are less likely to get called back.

EIGHT: Say something that connects you with their organization: “I know your company quite well, because I did an internship
there during my years at the university.”

NINE: Give your phone number at the start of your message and again at the end. If the person missed jotting it down the
first time, she has a second chance without replaying the message.

TEN: Say, “In case it’s better for you to return the call after hours, here is my cell phone number.” This doubles your
access, and indicates you give service beyond closing time.

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Power Relationships and Negotiation

July 7, 2011 Leave a comment

One of the most interesting, and often the most overlooked, dynamics in the negotiation process is the power relationship that exists between the negotiating parties. Power relationships aren’t like a game of blackjack, but there is one parallel: Who has the better hand?

Like the dealer, the employer has the better hand, because he has something the candidate wants — the job opening. Because others want to play the game, the employer can pick and choose from multiple candidates, all of whom want the same job. But if the candidate has unique skills that are in high demand, the power-relationship dynamic shifts from the employer to the candidate. To use the blackjack analogy, the candidate’s deck is stacked in his favor.

Economics 101

The law of supply and demand also plays a role in power relationships. For example, the healthcare industry is facing a national nursing shortage. Because the demand for nurses exceeds the supply, qualified RNs are in a far more powerful position to negotiate a better salary and compensation package than if there were a glut of equally qualified nurses competing for jobs. The reverse
can be seen in other sectors where there’s a greater competition for a small pool of opportunities. Given supply exceeds demand, candidates competing for these jobs aren’t in a good position, power-wise, to negotiate a better employment package.

Generally speaking, the higher the level of skill and experience required to do a job, the more equal the power relationship between the employer and the job seeker and, therefore, the more room for meaningful negotiation. The reverse is true for jobs that require low skill levels and little experience.

Factors Affecting the Negotiation Process

Power relationships are also affected by other, less quantifiable variables that shouldn’t be overlooked. The most important is how badly you need a job. Even the most skilled and experienced people can find themselves out of work through no fault of their own, and that changes the balance of power. On the flip side, the employer desperate to find a brain surgeon relinquishes negotiating power, especially if the prime candidate is happily employed.

What can you do to retain some power during the negotiation process? Consider taking these steps:

• Audit your skills, training, experience and accomplishments. Objectively evaluate your skill sets and determine which can be transferred to other occupational categories. An experienced manager can usually apply those same skills across a broad array of occupations.

• Develop a focused salary research strategy. Find out the compensation and benefit packages being paid for comparable skill sets for the occupation and geographic location you’re targeting.

• Do as much homework as possible on the nature and extent of the demand for the skills, training, education and experience within your chosen occupational field.

• Determine your compensation range and the threshold below which you cannot go. This will help you avoid making a lateral move instead of an upward move.

• During job interviews, be prepared to make your case for the unique value you bring to the organization.

• If in the process of evaluating your skills, training, education and experience, you discover very little that puts you in a position of power, consider additional training, education or even a transitional job that would give you more valuable experience.

The more you have to offer an employer, the more power you’ll have during the negotiation process, and vice versa.

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Heat Up Prospect Sales with Cold Emails

June 17, 2011 3 comments

Email is arguably the most important sales prospecting tool to come along since the invention of the business card. Yet even as email has become essential to the way sales organizations function, many salespeople remain in the dark
about how to harness this powerful tool’s full potential to open a dialogue with potential customers.

A Way to Connect with Customers

According to Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, one problem is that too many salespeople still think email prospecting consists of sending the same exact one-size-fits-all email message, unsolicited, to dozens of prospects.
That’s spam, and it’s more likely to get your name cursed throughout your prospects’ offices than to generate any interest.

But even when salespeople do the right thing and send individualized “cold” prospecting emails, they still often make the mistake of talking exclusively about themselves and their companies’ products — topics of little interest to recipients. As a result, these messages wind up getting deleted, unread, along with all the other junk clogging up customers’ inboxes.

Instead, cold emails should focus exclusively on prospects and their business issues.

“Your email’s first sentence should demonstrate that you know something about that company, that you’ve been researching their Web site or you were referred by someone who works there,” Konrath says. “It’s not about your company, your product or you. It’s about making a quick connection that piques the person’s interest and keeps you from being deleted.”

Personalize or Perish

San Francisco-based sales expert Andrew Paulsen agrees, noting that personalization is the most effective way to let a recipient know that your message is not just another piece of spam.

“The research you need to do to personalize your email will only take minutes,” says Paulsen, who is currently working on a book about using email as a business tool. “You can read through the company’s Web site, conduct a Google search or go to an information resource like Let recipients know that you understand their business and you’ve sought them out specifically. They will be impressed that you’ve done your homework before making contact.”

A Little Help, Please?

According to Ari Galper, the self-titled “Cold-Calling Guru,” another effective way to quickly grab your prospect’s attention is by asking for assistance.

“You might open your email by saying, ‘I’m not sure if you can help me but thought you could possibly point me in the right direction,’” Galper says. “By starting off from a position of humility and asking for help, you give the reader the chance to either say that you’ve reached the right person or refer you to someone else.”

Then you should ask who at the target company typically handles the specific type of business issues your clients typically face. “An example,” Galper says, “might be, ‘Would you happen to know who in your organization is responsible for diagnosing and solving productivity issues related to your technology infrastructure – specifically, underperforming servers, outdated software
upgrades or out-of-date computer hardware?’”

By keeping the focus on real problems the recipient may be facing, you reinforce the message that you’re interested in his needs and not just out to make a sale.

Subject Matters

Of course, the text of your message won’t matter much if the recipient doesn’t even bother to open the email. That’s why the subject line is so important, says Konrath.

“If your subject line says ‘Free’ or ‘Sale’ or ‘Special offer,’ it’s obviously a sales pitch,” she says. “Instead, if you have a referral, your
subject line should read, ‘Mary Jones said I should contact you.’ Or if you’re emailing because you read that the company opened a new location, the subject line might be ‘Ideas regarding new Oakdale facility.’”

Whatever approach you choose, prospecting emails should always be short, ideally consisting of no more than four sentences and fewer than 100 words. For salespeople used to expounding at great length on their products’ countless amazing features, sending brief messages with no mention of your company’s offerings may counter all your selling instincts. But that’s good, since your goal with email prospecting is not to sell anything. Not yet, anyway.

Paulsen says that your goal with a cold email is to generate a response – any response – that initiates a dialogue. And even if you don’t get a response, you’ll be better positioned for a good conversation when you do manage to catch the prospect on the phone.

“Usually people will be more courteous and give you some of their time based upon your previous efforts to reach them,” Paulsen says. “So if you have made attempts to communicate via email or voice mail in the past, you can start out your call by stating that you have made an effort to reach them before, and that should help the call get off to a better start.”

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Small Business Market Has Changed

June 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Over the last decade, important segments of the small business market have changed in ways that seem to make them better candidates for managed or hosted services. Specificially, some smaller businesses now are both “tech savvy” and “mobile focused,” said Tim Harmon, Forrester Research analyst.

In fact, some small businesses, especially those lead by younger entrepreneurs, are more likely to want mobile solutions than cloud-based solutions. The challenge is partly figuring out how to deliver greater value in the “mobile” space, beyond the obvious demand for smartphones, tablets and mobile broadband dongles, all of which a small business can easily buy directly from the established carrier retail stores.

At the same time, developments in software architecture seem to be moving in a direction, namely “cloud based” software and apps that are ideally suited both to managed services and mobile delivery. In fact, a recent CDW survey found that 21 percent of small businesses already have adopted at least one cloud-based service. That might suggest a focus on smartphone, tablet and notebook applications that employees can use on a highly distributed basis.

That doesn’t generally mean the small business owners and managers have embraced an explicit cloud computing approach, but that they evaluate individual solutions, and often find a cloud approach the best combination of value and price.

It is conceivable those twin developments will enable different sales strategies and lead product offers by some companies that sell products and services to smaller businesses, and some of their channel partners.

Consider that the lead offer for many telecom sales organizations is “business voice and broadband Internet access.” The lead offer for many value-added resellers involves some element of the premises data network and computing infrastructure. The lead offer for a business software company might be a solution for one or more business process activities, ranging from human resources to accounting or customer relationship management.

The lead offer for a business equipment supplier might involve document management or point of sale and banking terminals.

One of the possible new niches within the broad small and medium-sized business market is the “tech savvy” SMB, or even the “mobile-focused” SMB. Think of it as a “horizontal” segmentation of the market that crosses traditional industry verticals.

A tech savvy SMB lead offer might be based on mobile or application services. That might mean leading with an easy-to-understand suite of customer-facing applications (marketing, for example), supported by mobile integration, and only incidentally including the broadband and voice support.

Granted, that might be an easier approach for an “application centric” integrator or value added reseller, but it is probably fair to say no existing small business channel has deep and rich experience in selling in this way, with the possible exception of firms that historically have focused on managed business software solutions. That should mean an opportunity for sales share to shift within the small business market, from existing channels to new channels that directly address tech-savvy and mobile oriented organizations.

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7 Tips for Negotiating a Raise in Sales

April 15, 2011 Leave a comment

So how and when should a salesperson ask for a raise? Understanding your boss’s point of view will help you position your raise as a good thing for the company, instead of a good thing for you. Here are seven points to consider before negotiating a better deal:

1. Make Sure You Have Clout

The salesperson in the example above didn’t have leverage. Coming off a bad year or quarter is the wrong time to test your value. With clout, you could find yourself with a better offer from the company or on the free agent market.

A better offer from another firm validates your claim that you’re worth more to the company you’re working for. If your boss wants to keep you, you have the clout to establish the parameters of your raise. However, if you use the “here’s what I’m worth to another company” ploy, you have to be willing to leave.

2. Watch Your Timing

Don’t even think about asking for a raise until you’ve been there a year or more. Your value to the company increases when you have some customer relationships you can leverage for increased sales and referrals.

3. Ask for Small Increases in Your Base Salary Based on Inflation

If it’s been a while since your base pay was adjusted, this ploy might work. However, the trend today is for lower bases and increased incentives. This lets companies reduce fixed expenses while rewarding you for meeting company expectations.

4. Be Willing to Take an Expanded Role in the Company

You have both a job and a role as a salesperson. Your job is to sell and make your quota. Your role is to mentor that new salesperson and be part of the team.

Your role means supporting your boss in sales meetings, not rolling your eyes and sighing when the new demands come down from corporate and not promising clients things your production people can’t deliver. Bosses bend over backwards to keep salespeople with good attitudes and look for excuses to fire the malcontents.

5. Negotiate for Perks That Don’t Cost the Company More Taxes and Benefits

Companies don’t have to pay workers’ compensation on an extra week of vacation, a trip, or increased car or cellphone allowances. It’s income to you, but not as costly in cash outlay as a raise.

6. Ask for Extra Incentives After You’ve Made Your Quota

That’s the easiest thing for your boss to give you. Imagine getting an additional 10 percent, or even 20 percent, on everything you sell once you’ve made your commission. This works because your boss has to deliver a number to his boss. Once you help deliver that number, you’ve got more clout, and people will want you to stay.

7. Make It a Win-Win Situation for You and Your Boss

In the scenario I outlined at the beginning of this article, the only winner would have been the salesperson. The boss didn’t get increased performance for increased pay. Show that you’re willing to take on more responsibility. Be willing to do some of the work before you get paid to demonstrate that you deserve the increase.

Asking for a raise is just like asking for an order. Practice your presentation. Be as prepared for this meeting as you would be for a presentation to a major customer. Arm yourself with facts and figures on your performance. Position the raise as a benefit to the company. And finally, make sure your boss seesyou as a winner and not a whiner.

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Influence Your Sales Interview

April 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Sales job candidates often believe that the best way to land an offer is to present the interviewer with a hefty resume that details previous sales positions. But creating a receptive psychological environment during the interview is just as essential.

According to Robert B. Cialdini, PhD, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, extensive observation of top sales professionals in multiple industries, such as insurance, automotive, photography, charity and advertising, reveals specific patterns of behavior and speech that increase the likelihood another person will say yes to a request. According to material originally published in Selling Power magazine, these patterns are reflected in six basic principles of influence. Follow them on your next sales interview to ensure success.

1. The Principle of Reciprocation:

People tend to say yes if they feel they owe you something. [Example: Charities double their response when they include a dozen personalized address labels inside their direct-mail packages.]

On the Sales Interview: Always enter the interview with the attitude that you’re there to help rather than be helped. When sincerely felt and expressed, this automatically creates a sense of obligation on the part of the interviewer.

2. The Principle of Scarcity:

People tend to say yes if they believe that something is dwindling in availability. [Example: GM sold out its stock of previously unpopular Oldsmobiles a few days after the brand was publicly retired.]
On the Sales Interview: Tell the interviewer about any circumstance that would make you difficult to hire in the future, like a pending job offer. Focus the discussion on what the firm will lose without your services.

3. The Principle of Authority:

People tend to say yes to those seen as having special knowledge and credibility. [Example: Firms often bring technical experts and engineers into sales processes to help close major opportunities.]

On the Sales Interview: Emphasize elements of your career that illustrate your command of unique knowledge rather than generic ability to sell. Describe any unusual expertise related to what you’d be selling for the prospective employer.

4. The Principle of Commitment:

People tend to say yes when it’s consistent with a prior commitment they have made in your presence. [Example: Market researchers who first ask potential respondents, Are you a helpful person? double the number of people who agree to be surveyed.]

On the Sales Interview: Ask the interviewer about the specific kind of person to be hired, and match yourself to those characteristics. Better yet, tie the commitment principle to the interviewer’s sense of self-identity by verifying his personal commitment to hire the best candidate – by implication, you.

5. The Principle of Consensus:

People tend to say yes if presented with evidence that people like them are saying the same thing. [Example: Advertisements typically demonstrate their target demographic using the product the ad is trying to sell.]

On the Sales Interview: Provide the interviewer with references from individuals who most closely match the interviewer’s demographic profile. For example, if the interviewer is a middle-aged human resources executive, provide a reference from a middle-aged executive who works in human resources.

6. The Principle of Likeability:

People tend to say yes if they know and like the asker. [Example: Commercials frequently use likable celebrities as spokespeople.]

On the Sales Interview: Find something about the interviewer that you truly like and respect. The interviewer will sense this and be naturally led to like and respect you in return. This is not manipulative, because it builds upon a real emotion, not a fabricated one.

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