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Ed Legum on Selling Data
An excerpt from the Wireless Week article Retail: Selling the Data Experience

By Sue Marek
September 26, 2002
Wireless Week

... selling data isn't nearly as simple as selling voice services. Voice service is a tangible item consumers understand and the only essential requirement from the retail salesperson is that they understand and can explain the various rate plans and coverage areas. Data requires a whole different skill set. Not only do the salespeople have to understand the rate plans, they also have to understand the various devices and be able to demonstrate different applications. 'Data is very difficult to sell because there are five or six layers of sales that the salesperson has to go through,' says Ed Legum, president of the Edmond-Howard Network, a Roswell, Ga.-based firm that specializes in employee training. Those layers, according to Legum, include the product or device, the service, the technology, the rate plan, the promotions, the applications, and the enhanced services and accessories.

One solution is for the carrier or retail store to develop 'smart, enlightened visual merchandizing,' Legum says. These displays require an investment from the retailer but are beneficial if they explain how the service works and why the customer should buy it. 'This would make it much easier for the retail salesperson to sell the product,' Legum says. Legum plans to demonstrate the benefits of visual merchandizing at January's Consumer Electronics Show, where he will work in conjunction with the Consumer Electronics Association to produce a Wireless Superstore that will feature many different types of displays.

Besides merchandizing, Legum also recommends packaging the service similar to how some carriers have packaged prepaid products. 'How do you take an intangible product and give it form and substance?' Legum asks. 'You must package it.' Not only will this help simplify the product, but it also will make it easier to sell to the end-user.

But packaging and visual merchandizing aren't a credible substitute for a well-trained retail salesperson. Keeping educated salespeople in retail stores, whether carrier-owned or indirect, can be a difficult proposition. 'People used to consider retail a viable career,' Legum says. 'Today the retail job is looked upon as a position I take until I get a 'real' job.'

(quoted by permission of Wireless Week)

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