There’s no doubt that recurring revenue models can offer value to anyone’s business—providing predictable cash flow, financial stability and sustainable profit margins. But those who employ these models should regularly ask themselves an important question, “Am I adding value for my customers?” Recurring monthly revenue (RMR) agreements, shouldn’t be taken for granted. Those who take a “set it and forget it” approach to RMR lose sight of the big picture: Building lasting relationships and long-term business.
With the right tools and regular personal engagement, you can leverage your RMR model to help your customers address new challenges while identifying new business opportunities for yourself at the same time, ultimately solidifying yourself as a trusted advisor. While relationship building takes time, don’t forget that it costs significantly more to acquire a new customer versus retain an existing one. Additionally, remember that modest investments in customer retention can increase profits exponentially, and success rates of selling to existing companies is 5-10x better than selling to new customers.
So, what should today’s system integrators consider when building a RMR model into their business? We posed a few questions to industry expert Ted Wilkinson, Director of Channel Partners & End Customers, Axis Communications, Inc. Mr. Wilkinson leads teams responsible for sales activities with distribution channels, national and global integrators and end customers. With over 20 years of sales and marketing experience in IT, security and video surveillance, here’s what he had to say:
What’s your general advice to integrators who want to grow their RMR services?
It’s important for integrators to define what recurring monthly revenue (RMR) means to them. What services are the best fit for them, their long-term business and their customers. In its simplest form, RMR can be a basic service plan that includes services like regular firmware updates and lens cleaning and calibration to ensure that a customer’s system runs reliably. It’s important to remember that these sorts of transactions create a bidirectional relationship with the customer which is essential to satisfaction and retention.
Recurring monthly revenue could also mean offering financing plans to customers in order to pay for hardware over the course of time. At the end of the day, integrators must focus on long-term relationships to generate recurring revenue. All too often businesses take a project-based, one-and-done approach, i.e. complete a job, get paid and move on. However, as technology advances, end users will increasingly require trusted advisors. They require someone to ensure that things stay running properly as well as someone who can assist them as their needs evolve. All of this equates to RMR and just plain old good business.
What typical challenges do you think integrators face regarding enhancing RMR?
When it comes to RMR, I believe the biggest challenge integrators face is overcoming customer objections. Or put another way, conveying a value proposition to the customer. End-customers want to clearly understand what they’re getting for their money. Transparency is important, so it’s essential to take the time to explain your services and their benefits. This speaks to the real keys to recurring business: trust and communication. Accordingly, before instituting new services to yield RMR, a system integrator may require retraining their organization and its sales team on how to sell and manage these services.
Another related challenge is staffing. System integrators must ensure that they’re properly staffed to manage accounts including billing and collections services. Therefore it’s important to invest in people and software that can help you effectively manage this piece of business. This could mean anything from investing in marketing automation tools to efficiently manage communications and business transactions to contracting with a third-party provider who can assist with customer service.
How can integrators leverage Axis products to enhance RMR? What are the benefits and how much RMR can integrators typically expect from it?
First and foremost, all Axis solutions are based on open architecture so they easily integrate with one another along with third-party solutions. This flexibility allows system integrators the ability to utilize existing infrastructure to create innovative, scalable solutions that can evolve with a customer’s needs--supporting long-term business and opportunities for recurring revenue.
The ability to quickly identify opportunity, efficiently manage devices and proactively plan for device replacements is key to customer satisfaction and recurring revenue. Axis offers several powerful tools to efficiently manage systems and devices. First, AXIS Camera Station (Axis’ video and access control management software) System Health Monitoring gives integrators the ability to monitor all of their customers installations, providing a live system status to facilitate service and maintenance.
As far as managing those devices, AXIS Device Manager provides system integrators with an easy, cost-effective and secure way to remotely manage devices including configuring devices with backup and restore settings, installing upgrades and new applications, applying cybersecurity controls such as HTTPS and IEEE 802.1x certificates and viewing warranty statuses of devices. AXIS Device Manager is capable of managing a couple thousand Axis devices on one site — or several thousand devices on multiple sites.
Furthermore, the addition of AXIS Device Manager Extend complements the functionality of AXIS Device Manager by simplifying the complex and time-consuming job of staying informed of what’s happening on your sites and monitoring inventory status. AXIS Device Manager Extend provides remote site access that enables an instant overview and insights--with intuitive dashboards and data exports--of all devices across all an integrator’s sites, from anywhere.
With one of the most comprehensive product portfolios in the industry, an extensive technology and application partner ecosystem, innovative tools for design, installation, deployment and management, an advanced analytics offering, our Axis Communications Academy training program and our dedicated Channel Partner Program, Axis Communications is proud to provide integrators with a variety of opportunities to grow their business and benefit from recurring revenue.
Is there anything else that integrators should consider with regards RMR?
Ultimately, customers want outcomes. System integrators should find a way to measure results and prove return on investment for customers and their stakeholders. Accordingly, it’s important to determine key metrics and share them in easy to digest dashboards. Customer retention, repeat business and recurring revenue are all about adding value--serving as a trusted advisor and an indispensable business partner.