For the last 10 years I have lead sales organizations, both large and small. Each was tasked with generating B2B revenue in the Unified Communications industry. During that time, it was common for these companies to create fear, uncertainty and doubt about the services provided by our competition. I even trained my teams to go particularly hard against up-and-coming players that provided free or low-cost services. We were very effective at creating an impression that the services provided by these players were second rate and could not possibly be as reliable, secure or as high-quality as required for big corporations to even consider. At the time, I couldn’t possibly have realized that towing this competitive line would serve to create one of my biggest career challenges yet.
As a serial entrepreneur-at-heart, I realized during my corporate career that I wasn’t cut out for a slow rise up the ranks of a large organization. I realized I am attracted to starting new ventures and sinking my teeth into higher-growth opportunities that offer more autonomy. Ironically, I recently found my perfect fit at FreeConferenceCall.com – the “nuisance” competitor I had spent the previous 10 years trying to destabilize.
It turned out I was dead wrong about its ability to deliver reliability, security and great service. After months of conversations with the team studying the extent of the infrastructure they had built, I realized the company was not only well positioned to enter the enterprise market, but also offered a chance to significantly disrupt the industry’s pricing model. As many companies continued to pay millions each year for toll-free conferencing access, it became clear to me that flat rate long-distance pricing and employee use of their own mobile devices meant it was no longer necessary for corporations to pay high fees for toll-free conference calls. Those changes in the market enabled FreeConferenceCall.com to offer enterprise-level services for up to 80 percent less than current rates.
Finally, an opportunity for real change I couldn’t resist. I immediately jumped into a new role almost entirely focused on dispelling the very myths I spent so many years creating. And rather than hire a huge sales team to get my message out, I began conquering this challenge with just a few key hires, a great service and a new message. While most of my colleagues thought I was crazy to take the job, I have relied on a three key strategies that I believe are relevant for those in similar predicaments.
The first move I made when I started in my new role was to reach out to my contacts with a completely transparent explanation for why I decided to change roles and what I had learned in the process. I owned up to my early ignorance. I was wrong about some things and needed to own up to the errors and assumptions I had made. I expected no one to trust me blindly, I rebuilt trust by proving my stance.
If you have built a reputation of integrity, you have earned an open door to prove your position. For my company, the proof came from an outside analyst survey of IT decision makers and conference call power users that proved the quality of our services were on par or better that the competition. Then a review of our current customers showed we had individual users at many of the Fortune 500. Armed with that knowledge, we got some appointments and offered to let sales prospects try three months of managed conferencing services for free so they could experience our offering at no risk.
Rely On Your Best Relationships
Once you’ve established a foothold, focus on hiring great talent you know and trust. This will significantly shortcut training time and increase the chances of getting a few fast wins. Another key strategy is to focus on building credibility with trusted advisors and influencers in your space. In the telecom industry there are really strong, independent channel partners that are always on the lookout for new ways to make money while keeping their clients happy. These partners can use their relationships to extend your network and open new doors.
Brad Dupee is the Executive Vice President of Business Markets and “Freedom Fighter” at FreeConferenceCall.com where his team is focused on the large enterprise market. For more information please visit www.freeconferencecall.com/for-business