Expert Negotiators of World-Class Telecom Contracts

Aberdeen Report: Reduce Costs through Strategic Telecom Sourcing

Telecom has traditionally been one of the most challenging corporate expenses to fully manage. As companies grow, their communications infrastructure is often procured and ordered at an operational level to meet the needs of individual departments or projects, rather than from an organizational level. As a result, this lack of strategy has resulted in ad-hoc communications networks with multiple bills, contracts and accounts spread throughout the business. However, as global companies stated in the July 2009 study Global Telecom Lifecycle Management, their total telecom spend throughout the organization makes up approximately 1% of their total revenues and that even a small decrease in spend can provide relief to IT budgets and the corporate bottom line. This is especially true in low margin industries where reducing as little as one-tenth of a percent of total revenues could make a difference of several percent in terms of cash flow and profit.

Report details how Best-in-Class Companies using third-party telecom experts:

  • Reduced Full Time Equivalents managing telecom overhead tasks by 15%.
  • Cut mobile spend by 21% last year.
  • Slashed landline WAN expenses by 22% last year.
  • Achieved a 26% reduction in landline voice spend.
  • Met 85% of contracted telecom SLAs even after cutting costs.
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Why Do Multiple Carrier RFP’s Fail To Maximize Savings?

What industry has experienced the greatest reduction in market prices over the last decade? Like most executives, you immediately think of telecommunications. What drove these reductions? Of course the answer is simple: competition. To maintain profits and survive, the carriers have adapted by mobilizing their resources and exploiting customer limitations to minimize the impact of competition. And as a result, the conventional wisdom that a multiple carrier RFP is the best tool to maximize savings no longer holds true.

The Role of the Special Pricing Organization

The carriers all know their competitors’ prices across all average to world-class deals because, like all companies, they read the competitive landscape. To further control their highly competitive environment they have formed unique Special Pricing organizations to monitor the market, gather intelligence, control pricing, approve deals and direct negotiations. These somewhat covert organizations make all the important decisions, but customers rarely negotiate directly with them. They have complete knowledge of the market while their customers comparatively have very little. It is the job of the Special Pricing groups to hold onto margin while convincing their customers that they received the very best deal possible.

The slightest ripple of change to any price point is immediately known among the major carriers. The incumbent carriers use the information developed through Special Pricing to gauge proposal pricing so it is aggressive enough to ensure the business is won, but not too aggressive to unnecessarily erode margin. There is a significant difference between the rates carriers must offer to retain business and their leading-edge pricing.

The Pain of Network Migration

For practical business reasons, companies rarely migrate business from carrier to carrier. Transition costs are high, customer service may worsen and for those involved, time is precious. The incumbent carrier – regardless of what is ever communicated by the customer – understands they will likely win the business regardless of the competitive environment.

Most customers change carriers due to an overall dissatisfaction with their incumbent, not solely because of savings offered by the competition. The non-incumbent carrier Special Pricing groups will price proposals just below the incumbent to gain credibility and earn goodwill, but know all too well their changes of winning are slim. Look back on your own experience with prior RFP negotiations and this pattern clearly emerges.

RFP Expectations vs. Reality

Conventional wisdom states that a competitive environment is the best tool to drive down telecom costs. However, customers often misunderstand the sophistication by which the carriers control their market and how they use the pain of changing carriers to their advantage.

Because the incumbent carrier knows how their competition will price, they never have to offer as much savings as the non-incumbents due to migration costs. The non-incumbent carriers will never disclose their best pricing for two reasons. One, there is little chance they will win the business no matter how aggressive they price a deal, and two, exposing their best pricing only serves to further erode the market and existing customer profits.

What is the Solution to Maximize Savings?

The carrier methods are highly successful and at any given time most negotiations yield only average results. The carriers only provide their coveted best pricing when leveraged to meet specific leading-edge rate requirements. These rate requirements must be generated from highly credible Benchmark Intelligence obtained through performing hundreds of current and aggressive carrier negotiations.

Special Pricing will respect their customer’s mastery of the market and logically recognize that the requirement for best-in-class pricing is demanded from all carriers. No carrier will risk the competition meeting these requirements. With the veil lifted, the carriers are stripped of their power to withhold rates and the leverage is now shifted to the customer.

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Immediate Savings in Today’s Economy

A well-respected, nationwide research firm recently interviewed our company for a comprehensive study they are releasing in the fall. The purpose of the study is to define where businesses can find the greatest savings, in the shortest time, with the fewest resources and the smallest impact on business. The state of the economy commands no time is wasted introducing one of their primary findings.

Mid-Term Telecom Contract Negotiations can provide immediate savings in one of your largest costs of doing business. This project can be completed in as little as six to eight weeks and is essentially a financial exercise because there is no impact to your carrier relationship, strategy or infrastructure.

As professionals we negotiate hundreds of mid-term, incumbent-only negotiations year after year. Our results in the first two quarters of 2009 shows evidence of greater reductions in mid-term negotiation savings than over any other annual period. Compared to 2008, average mid-term client savings was up 18% above our trending over the past decade. The carriers do not operate in a vacuum safe from the effects of the economy. Just as their enterprise clients are dealing with financial strains the carriers themselves are saddled with revenue and operating expense concerns. It is evident that the carriers are highly motivated to minimize client churn and secure long term revenue through extended client agreements.

Consider the following key elements when evaluating this opportunity to reduce costs:

  • Contract pricing, terms and conditions change, not infrastructures or carriers.
  • A competitive RFP is not necessary to leverage carriers for world-class pricing. (See for more information)
  • Term extensions may not be required and would only impact business if your long-term strategy required a major network migration.
  • If the negotiation process is properly controlled, savings can be realized in as little as 60 days.
  • Any delays result in lost savings that can never be recovered.
  • Existing carrier commitments can be minimized and improved.
  • Corporations may employ various methods to decrease costs, but most of these exercises result in harsh penalties or cost outlays – telecom negotiations do not.
  • Pure upside, no impact to business, very little risk.

Mid-Term negotiations are necessary to truly maximize long-term savings. A profound misconception regarding mid-contract improvements is the belief that carrier leverage only exists in a competitive environment or at the end of contract term. Conversely, skilled negotiators can impose proper pressure and motivation at any time on the vendors to produce leading-edge pricing and best-in-class terms and conditions. The business proposition is simple: why wait for savings that you can have today.

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