Leverage What You Have
Talk is not cheap. Ask anyone at a Fortune 1000 company responsible for overseeing the enterprise’s telecom sourcing or telecom contract management.
Not only is it not cheap, it’s as complex as can possibly be—which is precisely how the telecom providers like it. The more complex the telecom agreement, the easier it is for them to add fees, hide costs, and generally jack up how much you pay to connect your company to your customers.
But, while talk may never be cheap, it can be cheaper and your telecom contracts made simpler and more easily managed. The key is understanding the rules of the game, something the telecom giants have worked diligently to keep from you by creating complex, (pardon the pun) circuitous, contract language, by changing those rules, and moving the goal posts at every opportunity.
Pulling Back the Telecom Contract Curtain
Some politician (let’s not quibble who) said, “You have your known unknowns and your unknown unknowns.” And whether war or politics (or telecom cost control, for that matter), unless you know what the telecom providers know, you can’t possibly know how you’re being taken to the cleaners with your telecom contracts. That’s where a knowledgeable telecom contract negotiator can help. Not only do they see hundreds of telecom contracts to understand what’s possible, but the good ones have staff that have been on the inside, who know firsthand what to look for. In contracts of any kind, it’s often not what’s on the page, but rather what’s left off the page that will do you in.
Because your business—every business—evolves, your needs change over time. And, technologies and markets evolve too. The result is often a mishmash of telecom sourcing with multiple, overlapping start and end dates for the various pieces of your telecom services, from wireless contracts to long distance services, conferencing to data transmission services. A knowledgeable telecom contract negotiator can help you consolidate contracts and bring about simultaneous, coterminous agreements, regardless of where you are in the telecom contract cycle, with one or multiple carriers. Internal and external carrier consolidation opportunities should be evaluated; they are powerful steps that can be taken to maximize savings while minimizing liabilities.
Mind the Gaps
One of the ways telecom costs escalate is when services are added without being made part of the master service agreement (MSA). It’s simple. Where you might be inclined to give your best customers your best price because, you know—they’re your BEST CUSTOMERS—telecom providers are often not so inclined. So, you call your rep and ask them to add a feature. They say, “Thanks, I’ll take care of it,” and there you go. You get top-drawer rates for your contract-negotiated services and you pay top dollar for the feature you just added because it wasn’t incorporated into the MSA and therefore doesn’t leverage your entire book of business with the carrier. Introduce an environment where sourcing and carrier management is decentralized and these gaps only grow greater resulting in substantial lost opportunity costs. Internal politics and business unit structures aside…leverage what you have.
Telecom contracts are some of the most cleverly constructed documents around. Add the layers of complexity that come with using multiple carriers and adding or changing service needs midstream, and suddenly, telecom sourcing begins to resemble negotiations more common in international treaties than those among business partners. But, such is the way things are.
Remember, this is the information age and information is power. Know what you know and recognize what you don’t know when it comes to drafting your telecom RFP and negotiating your telecom contracts. Then, hire someone with the expertise to at least put you on a level playing field with the carriers. That’s the only way you’ll get some straight talk from them.