“Very few people around the world really understand the need for a good router, even fewer know what router they’re using. People make the decision to buy a router like they do to visit a dentist-they know they need it but don’t want to go through the hassle and pain of it,” says Ulrike Tegtmeier, VP international, Cisco Consumer Products.
Tegtmeier believes that the onus for this lack of awareness lies on the vendors who so far seem to be focusing on making stand alone sales.
She says that vendors need to begin to focus on selling solution sets instead of driving stand alone sales. “The idea is to pack-in the information about the routers when selling state-of-the-art communications or entertainment devices. So we’re now telling our sales guys selling to ask a customer interested in purchasing a Smart TV what router they’re currently using and suggesting an upgrade or not as they see relevant,” she explains.
Tegtmeier adds, “Ofcourse this means training the sales staff accordingly, whether this means the sales staff across the vendor, distribution channel, reseller or retailer. I very often, go mystery shopping for routers pretending not to know much about them and have rarely ever been asked questions like, what is your need from the router? What kind of devices are you looking to connect to the network? Etc. These questions are the key to understanding the customers’ needs and ensuring that the product the customer invests in delivers a competitive quality of experience.”
This is another reason why, she believes, vendors need to be careful about choosing the right partners. “At Cisco’s home networking business, we ensure that the partners we choose to work with are capable of contributing to our culture of innovation. We look to build win-win partnerships, where both us and the partners can derive a future proof ROI supporting each other through the trials and tribulations that are a given in the current environment be they political turmoil, economic crunches or natural disasters,” she adds.
Tegtmeier says Cisco’s Consumer Products division consciously invests in training its distribution partners. “We provide many opportunities for training through on site sales assistance and generation for distributors, where we actually place our sales guys on the distributor’s sales floor. We also replicate this initiative across the distributor’s retail and reseller channel and at other times by investing in merchandisers who have been trained by us. In this way, we ensure an end to end coverage of all training initiatives that are aimed at driving our sales strategy to satisfy the customer,” she adds.
According to Tegtmeier, although the traditional European market is far ahead on the adoption of home networking solutions, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia represent countries with boundless growth opportunities. The audience in these countries although just waking up to the benefits of networking solutions is already showing great interest in the latest solutions like 3G, 4G, fibre and LTE, therefore, they represent a market open to innovation based on the use of these resources,” says Tegtmeier.
She concludes by saying that the heavy adoption of multiple connected devices such as smartphones, tablets and Smart TVs together with the demand for more video sharing will only drive the adoption of home networking solutions further.
“We are already a part of almost 18 million households. Through our strong channel initiatives, innovative and aesthetic networking solutions in addition to our commitment to innovate, we have no doubt that Cisco home networking solutions will only get bigger and pretty soon we will be everywhere,” she concludes.