Telecom expense management is very important for any business owner to pay attention to. Expenses equal overhead, which can drag down revenue and decrease profits. Managing and reducing expenses can help your business run more efficiently in the short and the long-term. There are key steps that you can take to get your telecom expenses in check, and reduce them over time. Simply put, the telecom vendor you have had for years may not be giving you the best service at the best price.
Finding a new telecom vendor starts with a self-review
Have you ever really looked at all of the different services that you have from your vendor? Chances are that you either are paying way too much for too little, or paying for service that you simply do not need. This is all going to depend on the size of your business and the type of telecom services that are required for you to function. The first step to choosing a new telecom vendor is to look at the services you currently have. Get an idea of where you stand and what different types of services are out there. Check out the pricing options available, talk to friends to see what they are paying for telecom expenses, compare this information to your current situation.
Before you flat out switch vendors consolidating may be the best option.
Consolidating telecom services allows for all of your services to be handled by one or more vendors that specialize in what your business needs most. Consolidation will help your firm cut costs and provide an easy solution for telecom expense management. In order to select the best plan of consolidation for your company, you must first analyze the options available.
Telecom Consolidation Options
Select a Tier 1 Telecom Vendor
By selecting one major provider you can easily manage your telecom services. This will also cut down on invoice paperwork and reduce the time your office staff must deal with providers. Having a single vendor to handle telecom services also mitigates the possibility of billing errors and error management.
Pursue Niche Telecom Vendors
This option allows you to choose several vendors with specific telecom service expertise. Using niche providers ensures your service will be the most up to date and reliable. Niche vendors are typically more agile than larger vendors so you can still see lower monthly costs and simpler telecom expense management.
Choose a Vendor That Offers Telecom Bundles
Bundle pricing may only provide you with a few choices, but in some cases the prices associated with bundling can’t be beat. Bundling allows you to get the service you need at a discounted price, all on one bill. Since you will be dealing with a single vendor, telecom expense management will be simplified.
Deciding to Make the Switch
Once you have decided which option to use to consolidate your telecom services, you must then select the vendor or vendors that best suit your needs. Unless you are completely unsatisfied with your current providers, reach out before making the switch. They may have the ability to help you consolidate within their services at a great price.
Performing a telecom audit can determine where your current providers are lacking and where they excel. Switching providers can come with costs, you need to make sure these expenses are manageable. Here are 3 things to consider before consolidating your telecom:
- Specific Needs: Your company will grow and adapt to market changes, therefore you must select a company you can grow with. Your new provider should have the ability to scale services up or down depending on your growth rate. When choosing multiple niche providers, consider which services your company relies on the most.
- Cost: If a service plan seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always consider the soft costs in addition to your monthly fees. Choose a provider that is upfront with set up, upgrade costs, and maintenance fees. Choosing the cheapest provider may not be the best way to go. You want the best service at the most reasonable price, not necessarily the cheapest price.
- Collective Improvement: Consolidating your telecom service should improve all of these basic factors: quick and accurate customer service, simplified invoicing, improved capabilities, coverage and options.
Remember, telecom consolidation has a wealth of advantages if you are willing to take the time to thoroughly review your options. Simplifying your telecom expense management will save your firm time, money, and headaches associated with handling multiple providers.
Give your telecom vendor a chance to retain your business
Switching telecom vendors is not easy. It can be a bit of a hassle and it takes both time and energy. Talk to your vendor and go over all of the options that you have. See if they can offer you any promotions or offers that will beat any of the competition out there. Basically, use the information you have found from other vendor offers to see if your current vendor can match or beat what is out there.
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Get quotes from new vendors – the RFP Process
If your company is way past the consolidation phase, it may be time to begin the RFP process.
A request for proposal is going to allow you to put together the services you are looking for at the price you desire from your new telecom vendor. Your request for proposal should detail the services you are seeking and let vendors know just what you want, including what you want to pay. Give them a chance to come to you with offers so that you can choose the telecom vendor that gets you set up with the services you need and the price you want.
A telecom vendor Request for Proposal (RFP) can seem overwhelming but understanding the purpose can simplify the process. An RFP is a document that solicits a quote from telecom vendors by providing thorough information on current and expected usage. Ensure your telecom vendor RFP includes the following details for fast, accurate proposals.
Start With an Outline
As with any business document, a full copy is rarely turned out on the first try. A thorough outline is a great way to ensure you get all the needed parts of an RFP into the final document. Go over the final outline and make sure your RFP answers who you are, why you need a new vendor, what services you need provided, and when you expect responses.
Statement of Purpose
A statement of purpose is the introduction. It summarizes what your company is looking for and why. This simple, short statement should provide telecom vendors with a quick assessment of what services your company needs.
The company background can provide key information for telecom vendors. Not only should you provide a quick overview of your company and its history but also include previous vendors and services used. This will allow potential vendors to understand your previous level of service and exposure to other companies. A company background is also a great place to address where your company is headed and how your telecom needs will evolve in the coming years.
The requirement section is by far the most important part of the RFP. Here is where the absolutely necessities for your telecom services will be listed. A well developed RFP will have a clear differentiation between wants and needs which will result in this section being clear about what items are non-negotiable for the company. A well thought out requirement section based on previous and current usage allows telecom vendors to truly understand the standard and quantity of services your company will need.
Provide Selection Criteria for Choosing a Telecom Vendor
Selection criteria should be included in the RFP to show telecom bidders how you are choosing the winning bid. This process may be as simple as stating that the decision of a winning bid will be determined by the company or as complex as providing a graded rubric. Selection criteria not only make choosing a telecom provider easy for your company but allows vendors to determine what services are most important in a winning bid.
Set Up a Timeline
Providing ample time for each vendor to assess your needs and ask questions needed for an accurate proposal is essential to getting the right company to serve your telecom needs. Create clear dates for submitting the letter of intent, asking questions, attending conferences, and submitting the proposal. This will not only structure the proposal process for your employees but allow vendors time to prepare an accurate proposal.
Provide the Right Contacts
Regardless of the thoroughness of your RFP, vendors will still have questions. Make it easy for vendors to contact the right people by providing contact information to managers involved in the decision making process. If time allows, set up conference calls with vendors so all team members can participate in a timed question and answer session with each telecom company.
Stay active in the telecom vendor market
Even if you switch vendor packages to a new service provider at a lower cost, stay active in the market. There may be a vendor a year down the road that can come in and save you a good amount of money for the same exact services you just signed up for. Telecom vendors work in a market that is full of competition. They are constantly trying to gain new customers and new business, and will compete on services and price quite frequently.
Managing your telecom expenses by seeking out a new telecom vendor can help you cut costs in key areas. Reviewing the services you have is a great first start. Talking with your current vendor to see what they can offer lets you know how bad they want your business. The request for proposal and continuous active market presence will set you up for quality service at a price that saves your company money. This added cash flow is going to allow your company more flexibility to grow in the short and the long-term.