Customer Experience (CX)

Land & Expand: Advisor strategies to cross sell the Customer Experience (CX) category

Understanding common pain points, objection handling and a look at three CX deals valued at $650K in total.

Today's consumers demand high-quality personalized experiences, and even a single negative interaction can drive buyers to switch brands. This heightened awareness around the customer experience (CX) extends internally as well, with employees often left frustrated and fumbling with disjointed applications amidst remote and hybrid work models. This means that customers and business buyers alike are hungry for cloud-based CX solutions, which are more flexible and tend to support more seamless interactions.

Biggest CX customer pain points

  • ICON Laptop Complex

    Solving for remote and hybrid work

    Companies face challenges in managing modern work models. One critical pain point lies in navigating Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, which can pose significant challenges in efficiently managing and securing smart mobile devices. Or, companies deploying company-owned equipment may struggle to retrieve devices upon termination or an employee departure

  • ICON Server Complex

    Outdated equipment and disjointed systems

    Often organizations are still relying on out-dated, on-prem infrastructure. These systems are cumbersome to manage across multiple locations or with a hybrid workforce, significantly draining IT resources

  • ICON Cloud Network 2 Complex

    Multiple on-site locations

    Organizations with a distributed workforce require a common communication experience to ensure seamless connectivity

  • ICON People Connect 2 Complex

    Keeping employees connected and productive

    Eighty percent of employees worldwide believe collaboration and productivity tools boost engagement, yet only 26 percent feel they have the tools to streamline work processes, according to a survey by Monday. Without intuitive communication and collaboration tools, it’s clear employee productivity and satisfaction suffers

Untangling communication knots—A massive market opportunity

As businesses scramble to meet increasing CX demands, advisors have a significant opportunity to enhance their CX practices, cross-selling customer experience solutions on top of a customer’s current tech stack. Doing so can drive greater customer value and capture a large share of customers' IT spend. The market opportunity for advisors is expanding as more businesses shift to the cloud, with only 15 to 20 percent market penetration so far.

Dan Bowers, Manager of Cloud Solutions at CMS Communications, is one advisor that understands the CX market opportunity in depth. CMS Communications is an industry leader in providing telecom, data and cloud solutions and services. Over the past 10 years, Bowers has steadily built his CX practice by guiding customers through the complexity of identifying and implementing the right UCaaS and CCaaS solutions. He excels at pinpointing pain points, pairing solutions with the right feature set, and creating an overall solution that can scale and flex with that organization.

When discussing CX with customers, the majority are receptive, given that a significant portion of his client base has transitioned to permanent remote and hybrid work models, with an estimated one-third of his customers’ employees remaining remote.

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Navigating Customer Objections

When speaking to customers about CX, here’s how Bowers manages common customer objections.

  • Quotes Platform 01

    Objection #1

    ‘We don’t have the time or resources to manage new communication technology.’

    Bowers encourages clients to rely on him for support, particularly if responses from providers are delayed. Post-implementation, he advises clients to include him in support requests, offering value-added services alongside his consulting expertise.

    “I’m a support mechanism that's down to earth and accessible. Customers can spend more time on their core competency and let advisors like myself handle the tech and support piece.”

  • Quotes Platform 02

    Objection #2

    ‘I'm happy with my current strategy for now.’

    Bowers advises a holistic approach to customer conversations. Remaining agnostic and prioritizing relationship-building fosters trust, even if a purchase isn't immediate. This unbiased guidance ensures advisors aren't pigeonholed, particularly if a specific solution becomes unavailable later on.

    “I'm not a broker. They set you up with someone, they'll leave you. I'm not a consultant. They work with you on the project, and then they just kind of dissipate. I'm your partner; I'm here to help you champion what your decision will be.”

  • Quotes Platform 03

    Objection #3

    Our phone systems aren't going anywhere; I'm not sure how well that will work with our cloud tools.’

    Bowers isn’t hard pressed to push a technology solution that the customer isn’t ready for. He explains that a good stepping stone is finding a solution that can integrate with the current set up if a complete overhaul feels too daunting. He highlights that there are solutions available that can bridge the gap between legacy systems and next-gen ones.

    To support this, he advocates for collaboration systems that integrate physical phones with remote features, ensuring efficiency regardless of location.

    “I tell my clients, ‘Let's get you a system that can maintain your current status of picking up the desk phone, calling, paging, call groups, and then incorporate those remote features that became widely introduced due to the pandemic.’”

Cross-sell success: Why ‘land and expand’ works with CX

Bowers explains that by cross-selling CX solutions, advisors can complement their existing connectivity or telecom portfolios. Building a CX practice can also help advisors to start or scale their cloud practices because of the cost benefits of migrating CX to the cloud.

His approach to selling the customer experience category of solutions involves diving into the customers’ entire technology stack. Through personalized discovery sessions and a deep understanding of their current systems, he can better address their specific pain points. By offering complementary CX solutions he ultimately increases customer value and creates new revenue streams.

Closing 3 CX deals—Winning strategies from CMS Communications

Bowers outlines how he applied these best practices to close three customer experience deals, including with a State, Local, and Education department (SLED), a construction company, and a national IT group. He dives into his experience below.

Construction company—Building a CX practice: A $200K deal

In this first example, one of his customers—the Director of IT at a construction company—reached out after receiving an email about moving to a cloud-based phone system. Bowers had previously sold them hardware and VoIP solutions from the AppDirect catalog, and he was excited to expand the conversation. He likes that with AppDirect, he’s able to focus on his core services and what they do best, while expanding into other areas thanks to expertise, tools, and support.

“With AppDirect we can maintain who we currently work with and our business structure in a way that’s highly effective while offering us other avenues to sell even more.”

Bowers and his team quickly discerned that the customer discovered the company wanted a mobile communication tool that was also compatible with the company's on-site trailers across various job sites. Following demos of multiple solutions, they determined RingCentral as the optimal choice.

The question quickly arose of whether they could simply purchase the solution directly and his response sealed the deal.

“I was transparent with them that yes, they can indeed go directly to the provider, but then they would lose me. And the customer led with how much they appreciated my honest answers and we went from there.”

Bowers explained that providers don’t always have the time to do a full assessment of the technology stack and really understand the current system.

“My job is to be transparent and to fight on your behalf to get better pricing. I know your system and I know the new systems, where a provider is going to only talk about their system.”

Fast-tracking sales, more options with the AppDirect catalog

With AppDirect as a partner, he believes he can better serve his customers. He connects weekly with his channel manager to discuss open opportunities, how to make recommendations to complement existing solutions, and ensure a seamless sales process. With the largest and most diverse catalog in the industry, he believes the AppDirect catalog is critical in driving cross-sell conversations and helping him expand his portfolio. The catalog includes 600-plus products and services available in the channel today such as network communications, energy, cloud infrastructure, SaaS, and AI.

“Thanks to the in-depth support from AppDirect, they now are my TSD of choice for all things CX. I’ve been given many opportunities to connect with other advisors in the AppDirect community and it’s a game changer being able to voice my feedback, discuss with my peers, and grow my relationship with AppDirect. I feel my voice is heard, and that my vision as an advisor is at the center of all my conversations with the team.”

Introducing RingCentral’s MVP platform

The customer's selection of RingCentral's MVP platform was influenced by critical factors: cost-effectiveness, user-friendly management, and portability. The team needed the flexibility to deploy phones across multiple job sites, with the capability to relocate them as necessary. Additionally, they wanted a system already familiar to the team to facilitate easier adoption.

Enter RingCentral’s MVP platform. Not only did RingCentral meet these criteria, Bowers was also able to reuse the company’s existing phones with the new solution, which was a significant cost savings for the company. By keeping the current phones, the team’s foremans, construction managers, and crew didn’t have to learn a new system.

“That was huge because it eliminated any learning curve with the new solution. No one is scared of the change because we’re simply augmenting a system they already know.”

The deal is valued at over $200,000 and is increasing flexibility for the customer while bridging the gap between legacy and cloud technology.

“Previously the team just had desktop phones, and everytime they required a new phone at a jobsite location, they had to purchase additional phones. Now we put the app on their mobile phone or the foreman has laptops where they have a softphone. So we've increased their flexibility tremendously. We've somewhat matched their price, and we've made it less scary for them to move to a new solution.”

School district—Setting up a text notification system: A $250K-plus deal

Bowers highlights another successful customer experience deal—a multi-faceted agreement with a U.S. school district situated in a remote, mountainous region. He explains that because of the geography, the district needed a way for them to communicate with parents quickly, easily, and reliably, uninterrupted by changing weather patterns. After having previously sold them on a CX deal worth upward of $250,000, he has built a good rapport with the IT staff.

After having just renewed their phone system license, the school wanted to explore a paging system to send school-wide text notifications to communicate adverse weather events, school updates, and other announcements. He successfully closed the deal valued at over $150,000.

After the deal closed, Bowers continued to support his customer as an extension of their IT team. When he assisted with support requests, he noticed a network firewall issue. 

This led to a discussion about network security, resulting in securing an additional $20,000 in revenue, scaling the original deal to over $250,000.

IT customer—Scaling with customers’ geographic expansion plans: A $200K deal

In a third customer experience deal, Bowers successfully closed a Microsoft deal across not one, but 10 customer locations—all by asking the right questions. An initial Microsoft license deal came in with an IT group based in Los Angeles which he supported. 

After digging into the scope of what the IT group managed, he uncovered the nine extra cities needing licensing as well, worth somewhere north of $200,000, ultimately scaling the account by 6x.

Seizing new opportunities

Bowers’ CX knowledge, coupled with his cross-sell approach, consistently drives additional deals and fosters strong customer relationships. By understanding customer pain points, overcoming objections, and delivering tailored support, he guides businesses to overcome IT challenges and achieve their objectives. Leveraging the AppDirect platform, tools, expertise, and extensive catalog, he is also excited to be able to pursue opportunities beyond his core focus, such as those with Microsoft and Google, ultimately maximizing his impact.

“AppDirect gave us a direct avenue to expanding our offering, something I have been pushing for for a while.”

Become the next success story.

About AppDirect

AppDirect is a San Francisco-based B2B subscription commerce platform company that brings together technology providers, advisors, and businesses to simplify how they buy, sell and manage technology. More than 1,000 providers, 10,000 advisors and 5 million subscribers rely on the AppDirect ecosystem of subscription marketplaces to power their innovation, growth, and success.