Expand Your Wireless Sales With WWANs
Wireless wide area network (WWAN) solutions are in demand as customers seek alternative high-speed Internet connections and real-time database access.
So, you have mastered wireless LAN (WLAN) technology and think you are ready to tackle the wireless world outside of a building's four walls. Be careful; there's a lot more to a wireless wide area network (WWAN) than just a site survey and some access points. You'll need to understand point-to-point radios and cellular network technologies like GPRS (general packet radio service). What is it your client wants, a field force automation solution or a high-speed (anything faster than dial-up service) Internet connection between buildings? Richard Heller, manager of broadband business development for wireless distributor TESSCO Technologies (Hunt Valley, MD), says the first rule of selling WWAN technology - as with any technology - is to sconsider the client's market or industry. "Determine how the client will use the wireless network and what value it will bring to the company to save time and money," he says. "The key to success in marketing WWANs is determining how, as an integrator, you can propose a total solution."
Of course, you've heard the total solution message before. Nevertheless, Heller insists that if a VAR doesn't sell a solution, the sale becomes a list of components and an installation charge. Instead of developing a long-term relationship with future sales opportunities, the channel company with the lowest price wins.
"Applications that are based on WWAN technologies are by their very nature complex sales," says Sally Stanton, VP of category management for distributor Ingram Micro (Santa Ana, CA). "If a VAR is truly solving a business need using this technology, it can and should command the appropriate margin for its expertise and the intellectual knowledge required."
Target Public Safety, Healthcare, Homeland Security Markets
If you decide to take the plunge into selling WWANs, there are a few applications and markets you should check out. For instance, Stanton cites public safety (e.g. patrol cars with a wireless connection to police databases) and healthcare (e.g. building-to-building high-speed Internet connections) as two verticals that have used this technology successfully in the past. In addition, homeland security is one of the newest promising markets for WWAN technology. "Wireless video surveillance is the application to watch for homeland security," explains Stanton. "The ability to monitor numerous locations from a single site has tremendous advantages, making the historic method of changing videotapes unnecessary."
In education, WWAN technology can offer multiple benefits for K-12 schools or colleges because of high-speed Internet connectivity. Internet leased lines can be replaced with a WWAN connecting the schools. WWANs can offer video conferencing for distance learning and video surveillance for physical security. Heller recommends using a shared DS-3 (44.736 megabits per second) link at a single facility for the Internet connection or a wireless link directly to the ISP (Internet service provider). "WWANs now offer increased speed, range, management, and seamless integration into wired infrastructures," he says. "This makes the use and value of WWANs much more compelling to these vertical markets."
Consider Selling Visitor-Based Networks
According to Stanton, visitor-based networks (VBNs) are a hot new use of WWAN technology. VBNs offer temporary high-speed Internet access in locations such as airports, hotels, convention centers, malls, and universities. To create a VBN, an integrator needs to install hardware such as servers, hubs, and routers in addition to the Internet connection and browser. Stanton says distributors can often help VARs with the network carrier (e.g. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile) services portion of these projects since many carriers will only deal directly with the largest VARs. She says VARs should also take advantage of distributors' site survey and security/network assessment services.
Obviously, there is no shortage of opportunities for WWAN sales. You may even have a client right now that could benefit from WWAN technology. However, do your homework first. Contact your vendor or distributor partners to obtain specialized training and create a total solution. Then, you'll be ready.