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Case study: Proactively demonstrating ROI

Taking a solutions selling approach allowed Fredon to discover one customer’s true business pain points and win business. MATTHEW SAINSBURY reports.

Avaya partner, Fredon, found its sales process key in winning a significant deal to upgrade a customer’s call centre environment – both on a technological and commercial level.

The cosmetics distributor had 400 people across multiple sites in Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, and several call centres which were being managed separately. Fredon identified the customer’s issues through its marketing and lead generation initiatives, general manager for communications solution group, Gerald Lipman, said.

“The main pain point was that the customer was running disparate call centres, and what they really wanted to do was centralise the management of those call centres, and have a seamless operation where they could have agents sitting at any location who were able to route calls to the appropriate skills wherever those agents might be sitting,” Lipman said.

“In order to give the customer a distributed call centre, we also needed to run voice across their network, which meant we had many networking issues to resolve. So we needed to do network analysis and design, and had to deal with quality of service issues to ensure we delivered voice within their requirements.”

The ultimate goal for the organisation, Lipman claimed, was to be able to offer its own customers a common experience – it wanted to make sure that wherever the call ended up the customer experience was a good one. Given its distinct call centres, customers were getting different experiences across the organisation.

Lipman said Fredon kicked off its customer engagement process in the IT department by taking a consultative role. “We invested some sales resources at that level to properly understand those pain points, and then we brought in a pre-sales engineering team working alongside the vendor to engineer the appropriate solution,” he said.

“That process probably sat in the IT department for some time, because there were a number of complexities that needed to be dealt with. We needed to provide them with a solution and implementation plan that was not disruptive to their daily ongoings, so while we spent quite a lot of time in the IT department we simultaneously engaged with them at a commercial level. So we were engaged with the CFO or CIO understanding the budget issues.”

One of the challenges for Fredon during the sales process, particularly in the current economic climate, was demonstrating a clear ROI to the customer. Ultimately, without that, the project would not have moved through the CFO and CIO to CEO and eventually, the customer’s board. “The process from start to finish was probably a three or four month process. What we really needed to do from day one was get the client to understand the Fredon value proposition,” Lipman said.

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“In the sales context, we needed to make sure the solution we presented gave the customer the right ROI outcome. That’s always an important issue we need to deal with.

“One challenge to overcome here is that there is always inevitably resistance to change. There’s resistance to implementing new processes despite the fact that some of those changes will deliver better outcomes – there will always be individuals within the business with some resistance to change.

“Another challenge is to maintain network integrity, which is a big issue in delivering IP telephony solutions. There’s always a requirement or nervousness in the IT department or network managers when putting voice onto the network.”

Lipman said overcoming these challenges during the sales process was tough work, but the company overcame concerns by partnering with institutions that could help the integrator demonstrate the ROI the customer was looking for.

“We have a number of tools and partners that we work with,” he said. “Often with engagements such as these, we will take in a finance institution – in this case, we partnered with Macquarie Bank – as well as present different finance options to the client. It depends on the circumstances, but ultimately we make a big deal of translating these newer technologies into cost savings.”

As a result of this successful sales process, Fredon acquired a new customer with an ongoing contract for support and maintenance. The customer acquired the upgrade in its call centre environment and refresh of switching technologies implemented and routing to deliver voice quality it was expecting, Lipman said.