How do you select your product/service vendors that make up the product or service that you sell?
Our goal is to provide “solutions: for our current and future clients. Solutions that make them and their business better in a way that is EASY for them to manage and understand. In our industry, products are changing every day so we pay close attention to what is going on in the market and make every effort to be among the first to offer new and improved products and services to our clients.
How do you make money?
NationLink is an indirect dealer of wireless services for a national carrier and we are paid by the carrier for every line we activate. In addition, NationLink offers managed wireless services, and we typically save our clients thousands of dollars by managing their wireless program. In that space, we take a percentage of what we save the client; we are compensated to keep the best interest of clients at heart – not our own. We also offer BlackBerry devices, accessories and comprehensive training programs. We are seeing steady revenue growth from the sale of GPS monitoring solutions. And, we offer an Employee Value Program where employees of qualifying companies can go through us to get an exclusive personal discount on all wireless products, accessories and rate plans. Each of these areas generates revenue.
What are your sales terms and concentrations?
Our sales terms vary by industry and client service solution offering; some have term obligations and other do not. We believe is have a long term partnership with our clients and creating a residual revenue stream to keep our company strong and able to provide that “high-level” of client support. In doing this we find that having terms in our agreements help us in keeping that stream alive.
How do you market your products and services?
Our diverse, comprehensive product/service mix falls roughly into solution offerings:
OneSource, our managed wireless service solution; BlackBerryGuy, for BlackBerry devices and training; AICGPS, GPS monitoring solutions; and EVP, the Employee Value Program which offers personal employee discounts for large corporations and their employee base (as an employee benefit) across the country.
While our marketing efforts are always branded under the NationLink umbrella, each of these solutions offers a unique client base, and we reach those target audiences in the most direct, cost-effective way possible. We market industry-specific products (such as our GPS solution for plumbing and HVAC clients) as well as general wireless products and services within each sector.
Our marketing strategy is to identify companies that best fit our product mix and focus on reaching those clients. For example, we know that the legal community is a heavy user of BlackBerry technology, so we developed a training specific to them that is certified for CLE (continuing legal education) credit. We market our BlackBerryGuy training aggressively within the legal community through direct mail, trade show participation and through our sales force.
On a daily basis, we are reaching out to clients through direct mail, trade shows, e-marketing, limited print and radio advertising, media relations and direct sales.
What are the factors that differentiate you from your competitors?
We provide our clients with the highest level of service in the industry. Our primary competition is the carriers and their direct sales force. We fill the gap between our clients’ needs and the carrier’s capabilities. Best way to explain this is to ask “What do you dislike about your wireless service provider? – That is what we fix. This difference is proven with our stacked ranking with our indirect dealers: Others Churn – 3.46% / NLW Churn – .70% (our clients just don’t leave)
What have the “bumps” been along the way and what are your expectations for this year?
In any business there are “bumps” along the way. This past year we have dealt (like everyone else) with the decline of the residential housing market. We deal a lot with builders both with our Nextel solution and our GPS solutions and the decline in this sector has impacted new sales of both of these solutions. This year we don’t see much of a positive change coming in the sector so we are focusing on other sectors to shore up any reduction in business. Luckily we focus much of our business on cost reduction and productivity increases which all businesses need in a down market so we haven’t seen large reductions in sales; only a slowing.
How did you get into this space/market?
In the early 1990’s, I accepted a contracted sales position in wireless communications with Contel Cellular. It was the first wave of cellular in Middle Tennessee and the success I enjoyed through that position convinced me that I could take this technology and wrap into a business model that better served the end users and effectively use it as the basis of my own wireless company.
Who are the leaders of your company? How did you find them? What expertise do they bring?
Todd Wilson, Vice President of Operations – Todd retired from UPS five years before joining our company and his extensive background in management and operations has been invaluable. He manages our GPS location services; BlackBerry support, installation and training; and the ordering, housing and distribution of NationLink’s goods and services. In addition, Todd spends 50% of his time in the field working with clients in a technical support role. His technical and organizational skills keep things moving on a daily basis.
Justin Morrison, Vice President of Sales – Justin has a diverse background in sales management as well as business ownership. He primarily focuses on overseeing our outside direct sales division, focusing on moving our products and services to the end user in the most profitable manner. Through his leadership, we have built a sales team that uses client satisfaction as the foundation for long-term strategic partnerships.
Brian Roland, EVP Business Group Manager – Brian oversees all aspects of the Employee Value Program. He manages sales, marketing, client relations and support for the employees of more than 500 qualifying organizations. Our corporate and government EVP clients have an employee base ranging from 500-1.5 million, and Brian is steadily growing and solidifying those relationships.
What are the key strategic elements that will drive your success for the upcoming years?
Strategy is one of those terms that can take on many meanings; I personally spend the majority of time working in this space. Working on my business rather than just in it – being proactive rather than just reacting.
Telecommunications is a fast paced changing model and anyone in this business must always be thinking 5 years down the road, the unfortunate thing is that 5 years to us gets compacted into closer to 18 months – so we have to constantly be watching the marketplace for both new solutions and for trends by industry. For me there are several key strategies; being 18 months ahead of the competition is one of the keys to our success.
What affect will any upcoming recession have on your sales, compared to your past?
I spoke w little about it above; and our business model being built on high end value added service solutions that drive savings and increase [productivity we feel will serve us positively in both good times and down times in any economy.