What to Expect When You're Connecting

Bringing Connected Products and Services to Market with Chris Whitaker

May 06, 2024 Soracom Marketing Season 3 Episode 3
Bringing Connected Products and Services to Market with Chris Whitaker
What to Expect When You're Connecting
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What to Expect When You're Connecting
Bringing Connected Products and Services to Market with Chris Whitaker
May 06, 2024 Season 3 Episode 3
Soracom Marketing

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Navigating IoT Connectivity Challenges: Insights from Chris Whitaker

This episode of 'What to Expect When You're Connecting' features host Ryan Carlson in conversation with Chris Whitaker, a seasoned expert in the telecommunications and connectivity space with over 25 years of experience. Chris shares valuable insights on the complexities of IoT connectivity, from the nuanced path of transitioning a product from 'going to market' to 'gone to market', which involves not just engineering but also selling, supporting, and maintaining connected products and services. Through various examples, including a unique solution at an amusement park for managing trash can emptying efficiently, Chris illustrates the importance of understanding and solving real-world, people-centric problems rather than just technology challenges. The discussion delves into the significance of asking the right questions, understanding customer needs, and foreseeing unintended consequences to ensure successful IoT implementations. Chris also emphasizes the critical role of connectivity in IoT solutions and offers advice on preparing sales teams to navigate this evolving landscape confidently.

This episode combines insights from industry expert Chris Whitaker on navigating IoT deployment challenges and a discussion on tech sales and managed mobility solutions. It emphasizes strategies for successful IoT deployment, team alignment, addressing customer needs creatively, and understanding market dynamics. Additionally, it explores the importance of industry knowledge in tech sales, managing mobile devices effectively, and the continual evolution and adaptability required in the technology industry.


0:00 Navigating IoT Sales with Chris Whitaker

00:27 Navigating the Tricky Path of Connectivity

00:51 Introducing Chris Whitaker: A Connectivity Expert

01:46 The Core Strategy for Going to Market

03:03 Understanding the Human Element in Connectivity Solutions

03:16 Solving Real-World Problems with IoT

03:57 Innovative Solutions in Action: From Car Washes to Amusement Parks

09:54 Overcoming Challenges in IoT Deployment

10:20 What's Your Backup Plan When Things Go Down?

11:07 Navigating Stakeholder Dynamics and Compliance in IoT

16:25 The Art of Selling IoT Solutions

19:40 Personal Anecdotes and Sales Strategy Insights

22:07 Empowering Sales Teams with Knowledge and Confidence       

23:04 Navigating the Shift to Voiceover IP

23:22 Embracing Mobility and IoT: A Learning Curve

23:31 Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning

24:12 The Importance of Basics in Sales and Performance

26:56 Overcoming Digital Overload in Healthcare

28:11 The Challenge of Solution-Specific Selling

28:48 Learning from Mistakes: A Case Study

29:45 Advice for Sales Leaders: Market Research and Training

32:36 Understanding the Market: The Key to Success

36:04 The Future of Managed Mobility Solutions

40:35 what is Soracom to you?

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Navigating IoT Connectivity Challenges: Insights from Chris Whitaker

This episode of 'What to Expect When You're Connecting' features host Ryan Carlson in conversation with Chris Whitaker, a seasoned expert in the telecommunications and connectivity space with over 25 years of experience. Chris shares valuable insights on the complexities of IoT connectivity, from the nuanced path of transitioning a product from 'going to market' to 'gone to market', which involves not just engineering but also selling, supporting, and maintaining connected products and services. Through various examples, including a unique solution at an amusement park for managing trash can emptying efficiently, Chris illustrates the importance of understanding and solving real-world, people-centric problems rather than just technology challenges. The discussion delves into the significance of asking the right questions, understanding customer needs, and foreseeing unintended consequences to ensure successful IoT implementations. Chris also emphasizes the critical role of connectivity in IoT solutions and offers advice on preparing sales teams to navigate this evolving landscape confidently.

This episode combines insights from industry expert Chris Whitaker on navigating IoT deployment challenges and a discussion on tech sales and managed mobility solutions. It emphasizes strategies for successful IoT deployment, team alignment, addressing customer needs creatively, and understanding market dynamics. Additionally, it explores the importance of industry knowledge in tech sales, managing mobile devices effectively, and the continual evolution and adaptability required in the technology industry.


0:00 Navigating IoT Sales with Chris Whitaker

00:27 Navigating the Tricky Path of Connectivity

00:51 Introducing Chris Whitaker: A Connectivity Expert

01:46 The Core Strategy for Going to Market

03:03 Understanding the Human Element in Connectivity Solutions

03:16 Solving Real-World Problems with IoT

03:57 Innovative Solutions in Action: From Car Washes to Amusement Parks

09:54 Overcoming Challenges in IoT Deployment

10:20 What's Your Backup Plan When Things Go Down?

11:07 Navigating Stakeholder Dynamics and Compliance in IoT

16:25 The Art of Selling IoT Solutions

19:40 Personal Anecdotes and Sales Strategy Insights

22:07 Empowering Sales Teams with Knowledge and Confidence       

23:04 Navigating the Shift to Voiceover IP

23:22 Embracing Mobility and IoT: A Learning Curve

23:31 Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning

24:12 The Importance of Basics in Sales and Performance

26:56 Overcoming Digital Overload in Healthcare

28:11 The Challenge of Solution-Specific Selling

28:48 Learning from Mistakes: A Case Study

29:45 Advice for Sales Leaders: Market Research and Training

32:36 Understanding the Market: The Key to Success

36:04 The Future of Managed Mobility Solutions

40:35 what is Soracom to you?

Welcome to what to expect when you're connecting a podcast for IOT professionals and the IOT curious. Who find themselves responsible for growing executing or educating others about the challenges with connecting products and services to the internet. You'll learn from industry experts who understand those challenges deeply. And what they've done to overcome them now for your host, Ryan Carlson.

Ryan C:

Today on what to expect when you're connecting, we're talking about companies that are going to be navigating a tricky path. And that's the difference between going to market and gone to market and all of those little nuances that crop up beyond just engineering a thing. Now we have to sell it. Now we need to support it and we need to maintain it and train people about it. And today we've got Chris Whitaker, someone who's got over 25 years of experience here in just the telecommunications and connectivity space, everything from Cox to Comcast, Sierra Wireless, Core, Verizon, Tolaris, and also a podcast host of the Wireless Way, which I recommend checking out. And Chris, thank you so much for joining us. Taking some time and talking to us about your experiences in this space.

Chris Whitaker:

Man, I am glad to be here. And what a great topic. Everything is connected. And, I even love the additional meaning of connecting, the connecting with you and I and the listeners. That's a whole nother level of connecting.

Ryan C:

speaking of which, we were introduced, by, someone, with some mutual background with you, and said, you really need to talk to this guy. He's, just been around the block when it comes to connectivity. you come into companies and you help them build out their internal programs. You help them, get their gone to market plan, executed my question for you just to kick things off when you come into a new organization, what is your typical approach for ramping up on. what it is that you're providing and how it, how it, that product market fit, what's your secret to just ramping up on that and then developing any sort of strategies or tactics around that.

Chris Whitaker:

I, it always comes down to the team, you got to start at the basic human level, making sure we're all on the same page. Everybody has different definitions. I like to define things like, Hey, when I say mobility, here's what I mean. What does it mean to you? so sometimes just level setting the team. That's so important. and understanding the law of unintended consequences. when you're building out a program, are you building out a product? the end game sounds really good. Everyone loves. It's going to be fast. It's going to be affordable. It's going to be easy, but there's all these unintended consequences that come along the way. and you have to understand what key stakeholders. That impacts, from operations to finance, to legal, to fulfillment, to customer service. what, how does it look on the bill? So there's a lot of things, obviously you got to take into consideration when you're building out a program or a team. And, but, again, to me, the human level is most important. That's our most valuable asset in any organization is the people and, how we communicate with each other, how we track and measure our success and learn from our mistakes.

Ryan C:

I think this brings up an important point, though, when we talk about connectivity and IOT, we're not solving technology problems. We're here to solve people problems. No one's buying an IOT. They're buying, the delivery of that data, time sensitive fashion, distributed to the appropriate people in a context that they can consume that fits into existing workflows, rather than asking them to complete entirely new workflows, right? The best connected solutions are the ones you don't even know exist. It just makes your job execute a lot easier. And you see this within the industrial and commercial space. Quite often. Let's talk about some early projects that maybe we've worked on where we saw that when did things go well, and I can point personally to the car wash space where it was something as simple as just chemical tank level monitoring. The last thing you want is to run out of soap at a car wash on a sunny day, because you're now missing out on what could be tens of thousands of dollars in sales on some of those high volume washes. And it's going to be something where you can't. Get fulfillment. You can't just go down to Home Depot and buy more drums of that. It's a special delivery, right? And so just knowing you're at 20 percent and your distributor can come by and just top you off and you never run out, that right there. Is a meaningful outcome. I don't ever want to lose out on business because I ran out of a mission critical resource, just like at my home. I've got a huge LP tank on a farm and we get heat from propane. And the group were in a beta group where they put on a little smart meters right on the top. I won't ever run out of propane and be freezing in a Minnesota winter because I'm not buying connectivity. I'm buying consistent heat. So when you go into these companies where you're laying out infrastructure and sometimes it's the middleman in many ways, right? It's the boring part of every solution. How do you help people make that connection or how have you in the past put those pieces together and avoid unintended consequences?

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. One of my most favorite stories. And, and again, I'm a channel guy and you're right. I've the benefit and the luxury of being that middleman sometimes, so a partner in Alabama, came to us and said, Hey, I got this client and he owns and operates, a major, amusement park and water slide park and amusement park. And I've, I've sold him fiber. I've sold him UCAS and I'm sorry, CCAS for his ticket stand and whatnot. and, and I was meeting with him. And I said, Hey, the partner said, he asked his client, Hey, is there anything else I can help you with? Is there any other problems you have in your business that I can help you with? And the customer said, yeah, I have problems, but I don't think you can help me. And the partner goes, try me. what is it? He goes, I can't hire enough people. To run my run the amusement park in the summer, people just don't want to work. it's a problem, almost industry wide multiple industries and, and he goes, that's interesting. I'm not a, I'm not a staffing agency, but I just got to ask you what roles, what jobs you have in the hardest time filling and it guys were blatant. What's that?

Ryan C:

Selling tickets.

Chris Whitaker:

No, believe it or not. It was emptying trash cans had over 100 trash cans on this amusement park. You think about it, high end amusement parks, you're dropping 50 to 75 a person and you're there with your family. The last thing you want to see is smelly trash cans with bees and, flies buzzing around. And, and the partner was really smart. He goes, how many people do you need on a typical day to empty your trash cans? He goes, we've, we asked, we need 13 people go around, empty your trash cans. Cause we have so many trash cans. We got them broken down into zones. And, and, so the partner's gears were turning and he said, so what if, I could give you an app on, on, on the smartphone that told you which trash cans needed to be empty, in what order and which ones did not need to be empty. And of course, the customer being a, amusement park operator says, yeah, that'd be great. if only, and the part is actually. It is, and we can do it. We can put occupancy sensors in the top of these trash cans, and it can measure, and we can calibrate it to where it can tell you if the trash cans are quarter full, half full, three quarters full, overflowing. And we can put that all on an app, and instead of walking across the park to check a trash can that's half empty, you only go over there when it needs to be empty. the punch is, first of all, you gotta applaud the partner for not stopping it. Oh yeah, that's a staffing issue. Can't help ya. No, he asked better questions. He said, what else, what's not getting done? And how many people do you need? And he started to understand the problem. And he solved it with technology went from 13 people to three. So you figure, 15 an hour or whatever, got rid of those nine people are didn't get rid of them. They just repurposed them. That there's other things in the park that need to be done. So that was really cool. And by the way, because they had actionable data, they knew which trash cans were constantly filling up faster than the others. that data to go add another trash can when you know, no trash can there are that shows me where all the people are maybe the even said the six months after they deployed the owner goes, not only that, we used it. It was a good gauge wherever the trash cans are filling up. We knew the bathrooms in that section need to be clean more often. and we will send our walk around Chotsky sales guys leaned into technology into selling technology

Ryan C:

solution selling, right? Like you're selling something to solve a problem to provide a meaningful outcome and you can't get there without asking hire endemic, then you ask who

Chris Whitaker:

selling technology

Ryan C:

all of these rounds. And then you talk to maintenance technicians, distributors of carwash chemicals, like we're stuck doing rounds, having a lot of windshield time or going from 1 place to the next. And not optimizing your time. And I think that's the, that efficiency play that we see in the IOT world. like when you've already, built this product, are there any particular gotchas? So let's say, in this amusement park, they didn't have the infrastructure, but they liked the idea of the solution, yeah, give me 28

Chris Whitaker:

Oh yeah. And that, and when you approached me about this conversation, I was so excited about, because I'm reminded of even in that use case, we talked about with the amusement park or even the car washes, It's a great solution and, it's called internet of things. So if there's no internet, there's no things, see, it always goes back to what are you connecting this to? what's your path to the internet, or maybe you're not using a SIM cards or wifi, you're using LoRA technology or Zigbee or Z wave or something what's the underlying connectivity and, is it readily available? can you afford it? how big is space? this was a large amusement park, 100 trash cans. we're talking, dozens of acres probably. so yeah, I think that's, you always have to go back there and that probably goes for any technology you're selling from SD Wan to UCAS, on and on, what is your underlying connectivity, what's your backup plan? What's your disaster recovery? It's not if the line gets cut, it's when, cause every carrier, no matter how good they are, has an outage, so what's your second and third, backup plan.

Ryan C:

when we're talking about enterprise level solutions. If you're trying to into or diagnose the problem with larger organizations, do you find that there are any hang ups that companies that are trying to get off the ground with their smart solutions and services? Is there anything that there that you find when you've gone to market? People are going, playing catch up.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah, that, but here lately, what comes to mind a few different times, when you're working with a technology leader or an operations leader or a C level at an enterprise company, and you come to them and go, Hey, look, I have this widget that's going to solve all your problems and save you 30%. the fear factor on that client side is, wow, if you're right, that means I've been overpaying 30 percent for so long. That might get me in trouble. I've actually had that conversation and another interesting conversation. We had, a northeast city. and again, I'm not going to go pro or anti union, but it was a union. It was a company heavily, unionized labor and like your car wash story. they had a lot of, Power, stations and different, items, add generators on it. So they actually had someone, their job was to drive around and check these, a hundred generators, make sure the diesel fuel was topped off because during the winter, there's a lot of power outages. and they didn't even know what the generator turned on or off. They just knew they had to make sure they had fuel in them. And, so we were moving along in the cell cycle until, the union boss heard about this. We're like, wait a minute, you can't put sensors on those tanks. That's Johnny's job, but we, Johnny is a union member and that's his job to go around and check these fuel tanks. And, and we had to pivot and again, that kind of shows you got to read the room. You got to realize there's always more stakeholders. It's not just the person you're talking to. There's a ripple. If connectivity touches every department and organization, not just an IT problem, that, everybody in marketing and finance, everybody that has got a computer cares about the connectivity, this was a very unique one. So we just had to help coach them that, Hey, we're not trying to get rid of Johnny. There's something I'm sure there's something else that he can do, but this is make his life easier. He's not going to get stuck in traffic. He's not going to have to waste all this time driving across town to find out, Oh, it's full, so we had to help reeducate them on the benefits of being more efficient and effective and repurposing an employee. and not, and saving all that fuel cost, and maintenance and wear tear in a vehicle, just driving around checking fuel tanks was, again, that's very antiquated.

Ryan C:

I think what you're describing is a symptom of products that are built with the best of intentions. But without the appropriate field context, right? Going in and seeing where it's done. Some of its voice a customer. Some of it is just listening to those hidden stakeholders or actually looking for the hidden stakeholders. And I think it's a really good exercise to think about, when you go into. Like into the market and it's not just the user, right? So many times we think about, Oh, we're building this thing for this one person or we're selling to the finance office, right? We're going to save you so much money and finance and ops. It's going to be great. But then to your point, it's, but that's Johnny's job that holds weight. That's got some teeth, especially if you're talking about. workforce reduction, rather than, helping them see how it creates lateral, improvements. Uh, one of the things that, that I've found helpful is to think about different dimensions of readiness. think about it as like a diamond or a pyramid and that's a diamond and, we've got four different vectors. There's the market then in opposition to that is your organization. And then on the sides, you've got the technology and the business and thinking about those four elements. You have to have all of those in any product, right? You've got a product or service. You've got the people that are offering it, the people that are going to buy it. And then there's the, it makes business sense, right? It's profitability. So then it's thinking about the people and the humans that are sitting in between each one of those points. What we mostly think about is the user, they sit between the market, right? Who needs to adopt it and use it and the technology. So sitting between those two points is your users. And then on the inverses, the people who buy it, the business and the market, those are your buyers. And sometimes that's the beneficiary or the champion that you're trying to convince to buy your product. but then you're also going to have your sellers, which is sitting between the business and your organization and the builders, who are going to support it. Who are going to service it, who are going to be like seeing that it's getting all of the patches and updates and, making sure you've got an appropriate amount of, bandwidth, or the underlying communications infrastructure. And without, your product is going to be weak. you're going to have a lack of adoption, a lack of internal momentum,

Chris Whitaker:

like it.

Ryan C:

going to market with a connected product, like you're 100 percent right. That it touches all the different departments. We have an internal saying, at Soracom, which is, IOT, it's a team sport, like it's got to have a lot of different vectors. So outside of, labor, where have you seen other, maybe hidden is there anyone in like compliance or security that you run up against that we're not thinking about right away?

Chris Whitaker:

Oh, Yeah, no, you're right. that, compliance is a big driver, I think for IOT. And, another thing that I've observed, when a solution you sell or you're, proposing has direct, impact on revenue generation are, loss of revenue by a lawsuit of some sort, it's a much easier sell, that, healthcare, for example, it's such a great, vertical. there's a lot of opportunity there because there's so much compliance in there. and, thinking about, logistics and transportation, again, more and more compliance issues and regulations there, not to mention just, the fuel savings and the cost of, maintenance on the vehicles and, getting ahead of it versus being proactive versus reactive. Yeah, that's definitely a driver. I feel is, understanding again, it goes back to Knowing your customer and the reading the audience and knowing that the diamond known the whole ecosystem and asking better diagnostic questions. I think that's really at the root of all of this is, the more questions you can ask and really understand, the end users, pain points and needs, and don't assume any of them. And ask the question, like a partner I'd mentioned earlier, Hey, what if you could do this? How would that impact your operation? that's a great question to ask because, I find the better questions you ask the less objections you're going to have when it comes time to try to close the deal. Because again, you're you've included that prospect or that client or that end user in the. Because you're using their actual, their own words. And that's sells one on one. I feel no man, as a perpetual optimist, anytime a partner, a customer is asking me any question, I think that's the sell sign that's buying sign. There, if they're engaging me and asking me more questions,

Ryan C:

a blocker or

Chris Whitaker:

posture, how do you handle this? Or, how many levels of help desk do you have? And different tiers of support. Can I go through all of those are, I would call them, positive signs for sure. That's right. Yeah.

Ryan C:

That sounds like someone in their support or maintenance director or manager, hey, make sure you ask

Chris Whitaker:

think the status

Ryan C:

right? The

Chris Whitaker:

is our worst enemy. for all of us as human beings, and the whole perception of, if it's not broke, don't fix it. I think that's especially when you're on the cutting edge of advanced solutions like IOT are, are assuming AI machine learning and whatnot. it's challenging status quo. we've always done it this way. It's always worked this way. and getting people and realizing most of our prospects, most of the end users, they're experts in their field. If they're a manufacturing company, they know how to make widgets, but they're not an IOT expert or wireless or cellular expert, and if you're in a role where it's your job to go out and educate and prospect, Be mindful of that. some of the basic stuff, a lot of people use, the TLA is a three letter acronyms all the time. We're talking to prospects and prospects don't want to say, but what's that? What's the TLA? just, lose the acronyms, lose the slang, use the jargon, let's talk. Real human talk and identify those problems. And it going back to some things I already mentioned, encouraging of creating an environment where the end user can have an open mind. And, I hate to say the word safe space, they're learning, it's it's okay if you don't know this, I'm here to help you. I'm going to educate you on this, and share use cases with you and share knowledge and, it reminds me of another situation. It's a funny story. I was at Sierra Wireless and, oh my gosh, it was one of those really high end Italian, designers. I can't believe I'm drawing a blank, but anyway, it was, oh my God, it's come to me, but it was a super high end fashion designer, and they had 140 retail stores, and that office, the main office was in New York, and I happened to be in New York for another meeting, And they're like, Hey, can you come in? And we need to figure out if you go, if you're the right fit for us, cause we're doing all this new technology in our stores and it's not going to work if we don't have, a backup connection over cellular. And that's what my specialty was at the time. first of all, I was Cause I'm a pretty average guy. I'm not a, I'm not a high end fashion designer guy and, wife and four kids, I'm a big Costco guy at the time. This is five, six years ago. So I'm looking down at my, like Costco khakis and my polo, and I'm going to this high end fashion designers, headquarters in New York. And I'm like, Oh my God, this ain't gonna be good. So I was like, I need to go online. See if I can, get me something nicer. And of course I go to their website, like the cheapest pair of socks was 300. And, so anyway, it worked out. I go there and I'm sitting down and I'm talking to their director of it and, all technology for the stores. And, I felt like we must've been beating around the bush too much. Cause she finds she was like, I just stop you right here. have never had to buy a solution like you're proposing. You just need to tell me what we need to know. You need to tell me what the problems we need to be expecting. Just help me set expectations and tell us what's what do we do? And I was like, Oh my God, I was so refreshing. And I'm, and it was a smack across the face going again, of course, I talk about this every day. But the prospect, they may come across this every three to five years, when there's a tech refresh need or something. So it was just a reminder too, of, to be that, that, that sells a leader, not only in numbers, but literally leading and guiding your prospect through this journey of, understanding advanced solutions, the benefits of it, the gotchas, what it doesn't do, what it does is important, but what it doesn't do is sometimes just as important because people have misconceptions or they misunderstand us to understand things, right? It was great. We became great friends after that, actually. Georgie Omani. That, that, that's what it was. I don't know why I had a brain cramp there, but yeah. Georgie Omani and, yeah. And by the way, so she was there with her two it specialists. Both of them look like Italian male models. they're just, totally decked out, but, and she was pretty dressed plain as well. So that's, yeah, you can't let that stuff your head. That's

Ryan C:

these challenges. What are you doing or what advice for the sales teams you know, is it a matter of structuring training,

Chris Whitaker:

Oh, yeah. So it's it's been my observation. Yeah, I've been in sales leadership most of my career Fortune for that and so I just love the topic of leadership and mentoring and helping grow people but what I find with salespeople If they don't understand or know something of a particular topic, they're less likely to even bring it up because no one wants to be caught flat footed. When you bring up something in the customer goes, tell me more about that. And you're like, I don't really know. and I remind people and even partners today, we work with a lot of, trusted advisors and through the channel, they're like, Christian, this mobility stuff, this IOT stuff, I just, I don't think I can get it, And, and I'm like, Hey, What was your first product you sold when you were in technology? Oh, I go way back to the TDM. I'm a T1 guy. Oh, really? How was your first time selling fiber? was that hard? that's similar, but yeah, now you mentioned that. Yeah. There were different terms we had to use and it was a little different. how about dial tone? Have you sold voice service? Oh yeah. We should sell PRIs all the time. Oh, so how was the transition over to voiceover IP? was that a jump? Oh my God. Are you kidding me? That was a nightmare. It took me a year to figure that out. Now I just do it in my sleep. Exactly. Mobility and IOT is, it's the same thing. You just need to get familiar with it. You need to, immerse yourself with podcasts, with white papers, YouTube videos. so internally we actually created some, I call it the mobility hub. It's an internal, SharePoint site where, we record our webinars, we, our live, live presentations, record them. They have a lot of white papers. we actually even did a certification. We, gave them a playbook. And then I gave them like a, a 50 question test, online, of course. And, they had to make an 80 percent or better to be certified in mobility. And, And they loved it. I was some people are like, Oh man, some people don't like this kind of stuff. And this is, you're really, you're really micromanaging. And I'm like, no, this is bootcamp. I'm telling them they can have a three to 5, 000, 30 to 100, 000 MRC deal. If you don't know what you're talking about, you'll never have a chance. You got in, you got to understand the basics. And, my, my friend, Allenstein jr. He's a great performance coach. And, he says, great athletes are great, high performers never get bored with the basics. No matter how good you are, you still need to review the basics, practice the basics, asking good questions and follow up and discovery and whatnot, so yeah, it's definitely a process. You can't just create a product and, a lot of companies spend a lot of time with engineers and legal and accountants and everybody, all the, people you need. But then once it's done, you need someone to be that ambassador and that internal cheerleader to make sure that the sales team feels comfortable with it. They understand it, remove all the mystique and gray areas, try to do best you can get rid of the fear because there's this fear of talking about something they don't know, understand. And, And I tell them often times, it's even I use the analogy with sausage, you got Italian sausage, you got kielbasa, you got Cajun, regular frankfurters and whatnot. they all look the same, but they're made different. They got different things on the inside. How many of us really want to know what they're made of? We just want to know what flavor they are and what meal does that go with and what shop, what wines should appear with it? We don't care, maybe we care, but really don't want to know what's inside the sausage. We just want to know what type of sausage it is. so I think that's the same. I said, don't get caught up on what's in the sauce. just know what it goes with. If someone says that they're going to have an Italian dinner, they're gonna invite you over. No, if you're going to recommend the sausage, it's going to be an Italian sausage, the same thing if they're trying to save money or try to be more efficient or effective or have a manpower or a headcount problem, then, dig into what, what's not getting done and what kind of problems. Is that your lack of employees or your high turnover rate? What problems is that causing? what can we automate versus manual? What part of your operational budget? Would you like more visibility into? is there a part of your operational budget? This kind of ballooning exploding and you don't know why what areas that in? I could I'm thinking of, A cement manufacturing plant, in Mexico that I actually set in on a use case with. It was really fascinating. And ironically, they already had some iot sensors, but they had done it like over a decade ago and they had like multiple brands, multiple different portals that like three different portals had to log into. None of them were talking to each other. So they won't get the full value of it. In fact, they were like, yeah, we got that. It's not really adding much value. So this provider goes in and says, Hey, what if I could pull all this data in via APIs into one portal and I could create some algorithms and to machine learning and help you increase the number of bags of cement made, per minute.

Ryan C:

I've

Chris Whitaker:

increase that for you. How would that impact your overall sales? I thought that was pretty interesting as well. just to, again, just looking for the problems that some people don't give you as problems.

Ryan C:

Yes. and we've seen this in health care as well. Like you talk to the people that are now in the field or that are living with all of these connected solutions. I'd say one of the largest. Growing market segments in the smart or connectivity space for commercial and industrial applications is the single pane of glass applications, right? It's these, the front end pulling things in via API or custom data streams or whatever it is just to eliminate all the different logins. That's someone who needs like doctors, that's their number 1 complaint in any health care, any health, it or digital health project that, that we, we'll go to a remote patient monitoring, conferences or, implants every at 100%. They're all saying, we don't, we already have our electronic health record system that we're having to log into. And sometimes we got like a prescription thing, or we don't need anything more. We're overloaded now. So now it's like going from pen and paper to digital. Now it's digital overload. And understanding how these different devices or these programs. Can now tie into backend it and OT systems. I've actually been seeing that has been a lot of the challenges, in like solution specific selling is understanding like, are you using an ERP system? Do you've got an order management system? Are you have to go a little bit deeper in order to like the bigger, the deal, the more systems they probably have. And so knowing like that's going to be a pain point for somebody, And operations. Or, logistics, I think that becomes the new hidden stakeholder, maybe, in some of these areas, it's you want to give me another login.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah, Yeah. Unintended consequences. that, no, if you don't talk about that up front, yeah, I, there was a time, a past company. we write, I made like a month after I joined, they already sold this deal, I joined, and then they deployed like thousands of gateways and these cellular gateways. and then, once they all got out there, they found out it wouldn't even compatible with the, with another,

Ryan C:

recommendations

Chris Whitaker:

Another piece of equipment on the network, and there was no remote fixing it. They actually had to send them all back. And of course, that was a major expense, but it goes back to asking the better questions, understanding the

Ryan C:

steps

Chris Whitaker:

unintended consequences, and

Ryan C:

gone

Chris Whitaker:

understanding the room and what other key stakeholders you need to talk to. And any kind of connectivity deal, that's like the worst case scenario I've ever seen is where they actually had to send back devices because they were not That was pretty, pretty, crazy. law of

Ryan C:

was going in, they've gone to market, they're experiencing lackluster. Market adoption, or maybe they're just not feeling What are some of that you would make to sales leaders that are struggling with, maybe a sales force that is having a tough time feeling confident. what would be the that you would recommend that people take?

Chris Whitaker:

yeah. A couple yeah. A couple come to mind and I see this a lot, even like my past, my previous role where I got to go behind the curtain with. 50 plus companies in this space of connectivity and it was just amazing to me. I was quite an honor and privilege to be able to do that because not many people in their career get the option of doing that as this kind of unbiased advisor consultant. and I would do calls with vendors in there and. they have drank a lot of their own Kool Aid. They're like, man, we got the best widget. This is going to be industry leading. And I'm like, this is great. how many of you sold? that's just it. We're just getting started. we're startup and so they're a big fan. but they didn't read the room. they didn't do great market research. I love the idea of customer advisory boards. here's a novel idea instead of staying in your own little fish tank, talking, telling each other how great it is, how about you go out get some CIOs or CTOs from, five of the largest companies in your area and say, Hey, we'll treat you to a nice dinner. We just want to pick your brain on this part of your business. Would this help? What do you, how are you guys solving this today? do some really real market research. Don't buy a list off the internet. so that's one good market research, talk to your customers and then, another area I think in sales in general, a lot of companies will hire top sales talent and assume, that because they're top sales talent, they don't need training, you need to train, going back to what Alistair Jr. would say, even the greatest practice, the basics, have sales training, have no one likes role playing, but I'd rather make a mistake. and with my peers and out in the field and lose a deal, so good sales training is, oftentimes overlooked and, there's good bad sales training out there. I know, to top of mind that I would recommend in the heartbeat. They're just, they work with major companies and they have a great process. so yeah, good market research, talk to your customers and then great sales training. you need this. Yeah. Yeah. If not annual, at least every other year. In fact, good sales managers may do this weekly in their team meetings, have some component of sales training. So sales training and not only in the sales training, but it's a technical training. again, a lot of your sales people don't want to know what's in the sausage or technical stuff, but they need to understand basic terminology. They need to have a basic understanding of the various technologies that this touches, just to ask better questions and as important, know when to bring in that solution architect, know when to bring in that sales engineer. But, Going back, probably the biggest miss I see companies just misreading the room is let's spend a lot of energy And launching something that maybe there's not a big demand for, or maybe there's a hundred people already doing it and you're overpriced, just not understand the market is a tough spot for some folks.

Ryan C:

not understanding the market. I'll share the thing that bothers me the most. Because I get pitched on like people selling stuff to me all the time. And it's a salesperson who is saying, We're the best. We're the only one. We're like the leader. We were the first. one, I don't care if you're the first two, I don't care how many years in business you've been doing this three. If you can tell me why you're successful. I don't care again,

Chris Whitaker:

right. All

Ryan C:

unless you have a patent or like a series of like super exclusive know how, which we are the only company in the world that has these three people that invented this special polymer and no one else knows how to replicate it. I don't want to hear it. Just yep. We're doing the right things. And by, these are best practices for being successful, right? Because you never know who your audience is. I know numerous times where I've been in the other side of, I've been pitched by vendors and I'll be sitting next to a VP. He goes, I actually came from the company that was their primary competitor just a year ago. And they're claiming, they're The only ones to do this. It's the only way you can do it. It's you know what? No, they're not. And so it just he's it threw me off. Like the rest of the pitch was great, but I couldn't hear the rest of what they were saying. Because it was factually not true, right? So not having an awareness of the industry is hard, but you brought up a good piece too, though, is that the understanding of the terminology, if you hear someone say MQTT, I'm not expecting someone to know what that means, but it's That sounds like how computers talk, right? is that, is it like, if you can know it's just a protocol, you go, cool, make a note of that. and, understanding, like, how

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah. Yeah.

Ryan C:

where they're at? And I think the best salespeople that I've worked with in tech space are the ones that know when to bring. The right people into the conversation and not over commit themselves or dig themselves into a hole. Oh, yeah, I am qtt all the time, man. Yeah, it's it's great. And then I've got my fine, my wife. I and, just use my hot spot and we're good to go. All right. Yeah, exactly. I would like to just end this by saying my favorite people. In the whole tech space from sales to engineering, usually have one quality that you cannot learn and you just have it or you don't. And it's curiosity, And Chris, thank you for being a curious guy who covers so many different paths. And it's good to know that, everyone over at Spectratel has got someone with a hand on the wheel kind of leading you to a new normal. It's not how we've always done it before. But where things are going to. So if you want to give me just a couple of minutes about what it is that you're seeing on the horizon, in your role at SpectreTel and some of the things that

Chris Whitaker:

Oh, yeah. Great. Thank you for that. And I appreciate the kind words. And I can, I can, say the same to you guys. it's great when you find like minded people with common goals. We can do so much together, and, that's one of the things I found when I came to SpectreTel, like minded folks, love technology, love the customer outcome. sometimes it's those people, we only focus on the income. How much money can we make on this? But it's really about the outcome. what's the outcome for the customer. And that's really the big win. I was very excited to come over here, and, evolve and enhance and manage mobility solutions. So it's funny, as much as I love my friends and topics around IOT, the internet of things. I heard it recently, the internet of everything, beyond just things, but, mobile devices, tablets, they're often a part of the IOT equation. In fact, I heard another guy was talking about, really, we often overlook the fact that this smart device smartphone is an IOT device. There's sensors in it. There's connectivity. There's hardware. There's software. by definition, this is a IOT device, which I find fascinating. we have a managed mobility solution where we come along with side, the customer is surely the more medium to enlarge enterprise customers. You were seeing it more and more. We talked about healthcare already. what used to be a clipboard is now a tablet, even in retail. What used to be a cash register is now a tablet. what used to be a handheld scanner, they're still out there. we support those too, but people are just using the camera on their, on the smart device to take pictures of barcodes and QR codes, to take inventory and, and, whatnot. All these devices need to be managed. All these expenses need to be managed. If you don't manage them, they just get run away. what's the saying? you can't manage what you can't measure. So we're measuring, cellular expense management, mobile device management, the security for these devices, whether it be in healthcare or retail or logistics, or even agriculture. there's, it's hard to find a business that doesn't use some form of mobile device. Think about, even the guy that cuts my grass, he manages his route. He has an app on his phone. You pay him, his little square on his phone. you can only think of something that doesn't use some type of mobile device. so that's what we're doing. We're, come on beside the customer. It's not a rip and replace. I can get this distraction over here so much for not do not disturb networking. so coming along the customer, come on beside the customer, just manage that mobility ecosystem, saving them a lot of money, but also not, it's not about the money. It's about, one of the intended consequences is to take it off their plate. they don't have to dedicate. That head count to reviewing the bill answering the help desk phone calls, staging, kidding and shipping devices out to numerous locations across the country. And so it's been real fun to work along our product development team or operations team and our partner community to come up with a solution. That's a little bit different, A lot of people are doing this already. we're late to the dance. I feel like, but that's why we're like, hey, we need to be as flexible as possible. We can't say 1 size fits all. This is how we do it. You take it our way or you go somewhere else. We're like, hey, what do you need? We got 6 hours to manage mobility. What do you need? How can we help you? What are your pain points? what are the stakeholders is this touch on? So everything we talked about, this last time, the last bit of time, I feel like we factored it in. And by the way, we're still evolving. I don't think you ever get there, sometimes yearly. So we'll get there 1 day. I'm like, no, you won't because there keeps moving, customers, expectations, keep moving. Technology keeps moving. You have to always be. Prepared for a longer haul than you originally signed up for. so thanks for asking. It's just been a blast. Oh, just the short time. I've been here. What we've accomplished and we're launching this whole managed mobility solution. it's definitely an extension of everything we've done in the past and, it's being well received. So it's been fun.

Ryan C:

Thanks for coming and chatting about, connectivity and all of the non tech stuff. It's actually refreshing to take a moment and just think about all of the moving pieces that go into the sale, into supporting it, into the little hidden landmines and hidden stakeholders that pop up in some of these particular situations, almost

Chris Whitaker:

That's right. That's right. thank you. It's been a pleasure. I just great, being here with both of you and I look forward to future conversations.

Ryan C:

Thank you.

This has been another episode of what to expect when you're connecting. Until next time.

Ryan C:

And now one final question. This is just the, after the fact, based on what, or your experiences, what is a company like Soracom to you,

Chris Whitaker:

deep thoughts where Chris Whitaker, you know, yeah. how can I say this without being cliche, but a forward thinking company that's looking for a different approach to connectivity, I think is, is also interesting to me, how, the, the average lay person out there thinks of cellular connectivity. I need to go get a T Mobile SIM card or a Verizon SIM card or an AT& T SIM card, no, you don't, so I think that, changing the end users. Perception or misconception, whichever one fits, but, yeah, change in the way people view and look at, connectivity, especially in the IOT space, because again, without connectivity, it's just a thing. There's no IOT to it.

Ryan C:

dude? I love that line so much. Thank you, Chris. I really appreciate it.