Let’s just say you’ve found that your product is a fit for the cable industry (if you aren’t sure, watch this video). And you know it is something that cable companies are interested in investing in, so you are all set. Now you sit back and relax while you fight off the cable operators with a stick that want your product, right? Well, not quite. There is one more thing you should be sure of, and that is whether you are “cable scale.”
What does it means to be cable scale? It just means you are ready for the challenges and demands of selling into large enterprise, and specifically the challenges of selling to a cable company. Selling to other startups and small companies has its own challenges, to be sure, but the enterprise is different. In a recent TechCrunch article they wrote, “John O’Farrell of Andreessen Horowitz, puts it this way: selling to the enterprise ‘definitely separates the men from the boys. Enterprise customers are demanding and conservative – and they should be. They’re being asked to implement a product that will interface with their other apps in real time and form the basis for critical business decisions.’”
A lot of this stuff we cover in UpRamp’s Fiterator program, but here are a few questions you should ask to be sure your business is ready for cable primetime. (Pun intended).
1. Can you handle a long sales cycle?
Enterprise sales cycles can take a notoriously long amount of time, and cable companies are no different. Cable operators have a lot of regulations they must follow, and therefore any new tech they consider has to pass those regulations. And then there is the typical Big Company problem of having to pass through a lot of hands to get to the right person who can sign off on a new technology investment.
So, is your company stable enough to handle a long sales cycle? Your company should be scaled up enough for this challenge by hiring the right staff and employing some processes for stability.
2. Are you ready to deploy your product?
It doesn’t always happen, but oftentimes enterprises like to see a pilot. So, in other words, two people in their garage with a PowerPoint and a great idea are not quite ready to sell into cable. A minimum viable product is one thing, and important to the process, but that product should be closer to deployment. If you aren’t ready for that, take the time to make it happen and then go sell to the cable industry.
3. Do you understand how decisions are made in a large enterprise?
And do you have relationships with someone in the company to be your champion? If not, this KISSmetrics blog says your #1 goal is to find a warm referral to the organization you are trying to work with. This isn’t too different than selling to any company, but given that decisions take more time in enterprise companies, you need that person on the inside.
It especially helps to have a relationship with the actual decision maker. This is why CableLabs and UpRamp sponsor the Innovation Showcase every year to get startups and their products in front of actual decision makers in the cable industry. Because those are tough relationships to get on your own.
4. Does your product integrate well into their current system?
According to this TechCrunch article, you must ensure your product “meets enterprise requirements, including scalability, reliability, security and availability.” For the cable industry, these requirements can be really specific. For instance, if your product for some reason or another increases their customer service calls even 0.2%, then your product is not cable scale. Similarly, you can’t expect them to be up for a long integration and change management process.
None of these challenges are insurmountable. And this is why UpRamp exists, to help guide your company to the next level and find true product fit in the global cable industry. Check out the Fiterator or Innovation Showcase today!