Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Eating the Shark

Back from FISPA, re-thinking what Dane Jasper (CEO of was saying about being a shark, sales, and flipping the model. "Good Local Service is the table stakes." CLECs as a whole are just copycats of ILECs - same products, similar pricing. That doesn't work any more.

For years I said either Layer 1 (own the network - fiber, wireless, or both) or Layer 7 (own the apps). Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook own Layer 7. Microsoft is trying to get it back. C-Link is making a move to own the business desktop with its managed office bundle. There isn't a roadmap to innovation, disruption and plain ole kicking their ass. "Note: Seth Godin says that if you can see the path then you're on someone else’s path."

The LECs have flattened out the market in POTS, cellular, DSL, TV. It's all take away now. Large customer acquisition costs. But as many analysts point out: they suck at customer retention. They have moved to home security and automation because it was an adjacent move. (One, quite frankly, that indie ISPs should have owned, but as usual missed while being complacent. I was yelling about the Converged Living Room at the same time as then-FCC Chair Powell was.)

One of my cable clients talks about the expense to upgrade to DOCSIS 3 is hard to ROI because the best customers -- the ones who spend the most -- are being picked off by DISH and DTV. Regional CLECs have been doing that to the LEC in the mid-market for a while. It is starting to hurt.

Indie ISPs should have owned VDI (virtual desktop) or DAAS (desktop as a service) but they were too busy selling hardware to see that in all other regions globally VDI was growing. Except in the US where partners of Dell, HP, et al were busy meeting Gold Support quotas and doing break/fix.

Fiber to the home (or business) is pretty easy to sell. Google lets it sell itself. It is easy because it is replacement service. Cloud services are not easy to sell, because they aren't really replacements. CRM, Office, backup, etc. are not really replacements. That means that there will need to be education during the sales process, which means that there will need to be a sales process. And salespeople. And a sales plan. Stuff CLEcs and ISPs just aren't used to.

The roadmap: There isn't one. When I look at the 10 companies represented at dinner in NOLA, no two are the same. They may be CLECs but some have fiber/some don't. There is business vs. resi, metro vs. rural, anchor clients vs. fiberhoods, Broadsoft vs. Asterisk, data center vs. not. We are all Weird. Great quote from the book: "The Universe rewards us for showing up and playing big even when you feel small."

If you think of your customers as customers, re-think that. They are your Tribe. They are looking to you to lead them through the maze of technology. What is Cloud? How can it transform my business? How can I compete against Big Boxes? How do I leverage technology to be a 24/7 e-commerce business? Your market wants answers, but do you even know the Questions? When was the last time you talked to your clients? Saw how they worked to see how they use your services and technology?

There is so much opportunity today it is incredible. Honestly, it is right there. But it means doing things differently.

There is that stupid quote about the definition of insanity: "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

One thing to do differently: Right now make a recurring appointment in your calendar to spend 20 minutes per day journaling about your business. That is where it all starts: think about the business instead of working IN the business. And if you haven't done that in a while (work ON the biz) then that is the difference maker, that is the breaking point to get out of the insanity. Do just one thing different today.

Activators will say When Can We Start and have already set an appointment. They are ready to eat the shark.

Go Deep! Sell deep into your tribe, so deep that there is nothing left for another service provider. In my Bundling session, I talked about using strategic partners (white-label) in order to be the one throat to choke for all services to your tribe. Not everyone agrees but white-label is fast to market and makes you stickier.

You just need 300 clients to pay you profitably as an MSP. Just 1000 clients for a WISP. At 2000 a WISP is hugely profitable. How many clients do you need off each CO or on each fiber run or in each township? Not millions. Thousands. A Tribe, not the nation.

If you need help, Make an appointment to speak with me:

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