Reliability – not price – is what really matters to resellers and customers when it comes to connectivity says Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing at Entanet.
It’s always easy to focus on price when it’s all that the customer seems to be focused on and especially when connectivity services are promoted as a commodity. Do businesses really want a cheap service that can’t be relied upon?
At Entanet we’ve never espoused or promoted the low-cost-only route to selling. We always encourage and support our partners in promoting the key values of connectivity and, while this may seem like an obvious point to make, it’s one we believe is important to re-iterate time and time again because it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of selling on price and little else in a competitive and crowded market.
Resellers today have a plethora of connectivity options they can offer to customers and in many cases, these services are actually sold to them by carriers and wholesale providers purely on the basis of price. This ‘instant pricing‘ approach only serves to drive down prices even further as resellers wrongly conclude that the experience they and their customers have will be the same regardless of supplier. As the carriers and major providers also often lead with the low pricing message, it’s understandable that it becomes resellers’ primary focus.
It’s obviously true that aggressive price competition among providers is good for the end customer. But is it helping resellers? The fight among the major consumer broadband retailers for market share has created the perception that connectivity in general is a commodity – a utility to be treated as an unfortunate necessity and bought at the lowest possible cost. This attitude has been allowed to spread into the Ethernet market and more recent additions to the Ethernet portfolio such as EFM and GEA have only acted as a catalyst to this mind set. In our view this is wrong thinking and it’s affecting resellers’ margins.
We think it’s important that resellers don’t undersell connectivity and, crucially, the value they and their trusted suppliers play in its delivery. Customers need to be helped to buy connectivity for a key reason, not as a nice-to-have or because it’s simply as necessary as their electricity supply. In business especially, the changing face of commerce and competition means that connectivity is just part of a whole solution. But it’s a critical part of that solution and that’s what resellers lose out on financially if they fail to make the message clear to their customers. Throwing it in almost as an afterthought and at a knock-down price only serves to damage the value connectivity has, as well as potentially causing serious problems.
The real fact is that not all connectivity implementations are the same. While it’s true that the underlying technology types (DSL, FTTC, GEA, EFM, leased lines) are common in their technical make-up from provider to provider, the experience that the reseller and therefore the customer has varies widely. If a supplier and reseller concentrate only on winning business on price, why would resellers expect that the solution they end up with is entirely fit for purpose and meets the needs of their customer? And if customers are expected to know this, what’s the value to them of buying through a reseller?
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how complex or simple a customer’s unified comms, video-conferencing, on-line training, or inter-office communications are; if the connectivity doesn’t match their needs or deliver a dependable service, it won’t be good enough.
This is why resellers are so critical in the supply chain. Customers buy their experience, their expertise and their value. And experience shows that customers are prepared to pay for this comfort and confidence. Ensuring that the selection of the right connectivity service is just the first step in serving the customer. The ordering, provisioning, implementation and support of that service is what differentiates one reseller from another and that’s why their choice of wholesale supplier is so important and why price should not be the first or only decider.
Depending on the complexity of the project, different connectivity types will raise different challenges and implementation timescales. Therefore it’s critical that resellers work with a wholesale provider that has the infrastructure, flexibility, adaptability, responsiveness and resource that enables them to demonstrate a quality service delivery experience to customers.
Reliability then is not just a technical expectation but a service delivery requirement, a buying experience. Being conscious of the pitfalls of selling on price (and how easy it is to get sucked into it) and also the importance of ensuring you identify and deliver the right connectivity service for the customer is something we’ve touched on in two of our recent eBooks, The Connectivity Scale and the 7 Common Mistakes Made When Selling Connectivity. For any reseller that wants to resist the temptation of selling on price and underselling themselves, these may be useful documents to read.
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