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Monetize Your Existing Customer Base
How to make the most of what you have.
Posted Oct 21, 2008
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In the race to attract new customers, telecommunications resellers often overlook the goldmine in their own backyards -- their existing customer bases. Countless hours and energy are spent pounding the pavement, networking at conferences and trade shows, and dialing contacts from the database or phonebook to bring in new sales. While new-customer acquisition is crucial for most sales strategies, a reseller should find the existing base will provide a valuable pool of opportunities for follow-on sales and upsells.

With new Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) innovations in today's telecom market, there's no better time to approach current customers with new opportunities to upgrade their telephony infrastructure -- from a full-scale system migration to value-added applications.

For example, there's a new class of Skype-to-PBX (Private Branch Exchange) gateways that can fully integrate Skype VoIP phone service with a company's existing phone system -- so companies can use Skype to:

  • lower their communication costs (i.e., free calls between company offices and new ultra-low-cost, unlimited calling plans for long-distance and international calls); and
  • improve productivity (i.e., let telecommuters tap into the company PBX from anywhere).

These plug-and-play appliances are compatible with all popular legacy time-division multiplexing and IP-PBX equipment, so customers can take advantage of VoIP today, while keeping their existing telephony equipment.

Ideal for times of economic uncertainty, these solutions offer minimal risk on a low investment, which leads to a quick return on investment. With this state-of-the-art technology, telecom resellers can migrate their legacy PBX customers to IP at a low cost, or sell value-added applications to small and midsize businesses that have already transitioned to IP PBXs. The new Skype application gateways are just an example; there are countless other hardware- and software-based solutions to complement your portfolio and bring additional value to your customers.

For years now, sales gurus have told us it's far easier and cheaper to keep an existing customer than find a new one. It doesn't take a Master's in Business Administration to understand that marketing to current customers requires less energy, and can be far more effective. An existing relationship and a little name recognition can increase the chances of getting your call returned, finding a more receptive ear at the other end of the line, and keeping your email out of the trash bin.

While resellers struggle to get their foot in the door with new customers, they'll find a refreshingly captive audience with their existing customers -- and a higher success rate for simple and low-cost marketing efforts, such as:

  • Newsletters: Monthly or quarterly newsletters can keep your entire customer base apprised of the latest and greatest technologies. With electronic newsletters, your only costs are the time and effort of content creation (or the cost of hiring a freelance writer). Whenever possible, be sure to leverage existing content from the vendor -- but remember that your own commentary not only provides a personal touch but also serves to validate any vendor claims and help customers understand why the solution will help them.
  • Email blasts: Similar to the newsletter, email blasts let you reach your entire base with little cost. If needed, hire a contract writer and/or designer to create a high-impact HTML email. As with any sales piece, focus more on the specific value proposition for your customers -- how it will help them -- rather than an exhaustive list of features and specifications.
  • Invoice stuffers: Within your monthly invoices to customers, add pieces that highlight new applications.
  • Phone calls: Telemarketing strategies let you target specific customers who are in the best position to take advantage of new functionality.

Keeping your customer base abreast of the latest technology and applications is not only an effective way to create new revenue streams; it's also a surefire way to proactively make sure your customers are satisfied, before the competition lures them away with solutions that may already be in your portfolio.

About the author
David Tang has more than 12 years of telecommunications sales and marketing experience in the VoIP, broadband, and wireless sectors. As vice president of global marketing for VoSKY, he oversees marketing communications, channel marketing, product management, and strategic business development for the company.

Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors. If you would like to submit a Viewpoint for consideration on a topic related to customer relationship management, please email viewpoints@destinationCRM.com.

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