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77. Secrets to helping customers monetize their WiFi analytics. With Sarah Freeman of Attollo Tech

July 12, 2023

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Listen as we talk with technology leader Sarah Freeman of Attollo Tech in Arizona. She talks about her complete flip from automotive to technology sales and where it accelerated from there. Through this segment, we’ll get into wifi, analytics, and secrets to help customers also learn how to improve their business and monetize them as well! Later in the segments, we’ll talk specifically about struggles through retail specifically.

Josh Lupresto: [00:00:00] welcome to the podcast.

That is designed to fuel your success in selling technology solutions. I’m your host, Josh Lupresto, SVP of Sales Engineering at Telarus, and this is Next Level BizTech.

Hey everybody. Welcome back to a brand new chapter. We’re talking about wifi, we’re talking analytics, and the title of the track today is What Are the Top Three Secrets to Help Your Customers Monetize Your Wifi Platform. And hopefully by now listening to that, you’re going. I can do what? And we’re gonna break that down for you.

So today we have got Sarah Freeman from Attollo, a tech partner of ours. Sarah, welcome on. Thank you, Josh. Sarah. So I, I, I got a lot of questions. I know we’re gonna talk technology and all kinds of fun stuff but before, I would love to know everybody’s path, how you get into this space. Was technology always your destiny?

How did you get started? Did you do something completely different and stumble into it? How did it suck you in? Give us the breakdown.

Sarah Freeman: [00:01:00] I was selling cars and I got sick of selling cars in my early twenties. I bought myself a gateway computer and I started looking for jobs on Monster and I actually had another job lined up and I thought, I’m just gonna go to the, this interview and check this place out.

It sounds kind of cool. I know nothing about technology. I had just bought a gateway less than a month prior. And I got there and all the cars in the parking lot were cool. They had Corvettes and Porsches and you know, Mazdas and just all these really cool sports cars there. And you know, beavers, oh, what is this place?

I walk inside, you hear everybody on the sales floor having fun. They had fun music playing on the overhead. And I looked around, I sat in the interview and I, the first thing I said to the, to the manager interviewing me was, I don’t know what you guys do, but I wanna work here. And he got a kick out of that and that, that rolled me down the lines into working there.

They were an HP reseller and I was hired to bring on the used Cisco networking product line. So I was [00:02:00] actually a hardware broker for the first 15 years of my career.

Josh Lupresto: Got it. Beautiful. I love it. Nice cars. I would’ve gotten

Sarah Freeman: it too. Yeah, right. It was nice cars and, and fun on the sales floor.

Josh Lupresto: Yeah. All right, so, so tell us a little bit about a tolo tech.

What does it mean? When did you start it? And, and, and what are some of your focuses?

Sarah Freeman: Attollo means to Elevate or to Rise, and I chose that name. It is Latin partial to Latin, and I chose that name when I was running my multiple warehouses in the, in the hardware industry. I grew up and, and had my own businesses.

I was running multiple warehouses. I was looking to add more to my portfolio, and at the same time I was feeling the pain of. Moving my own stack to the cloud. Which UCaaS provider do I choose? You know, the, the internet issues, all of the things that a small business has to go through to, to digitize, to move it to the next level.

And it was painful. So I started looking at, you know, what can I add to my own portfolio in this process? And I read a Gartner report that said [00:03:00] everything as a service gets, makes 14% margins. Where here I was making a 4% net. Ah, and I thought, okay, we’re, we’re, we’re doing a total pancake flip here and moving completely over onto the services side.

And that’s why I needed a tolo, because I wanted to elevate industry expectations of. How an end users handled me industry. I was receiving a lot of sales and salesy people, and then I wouldn’t hear from them again. And I, I had no support and I wanted to change that.

Josh Lupresto: Love it. So, so let’s back up then.

So, so you had the background in the hardware. Let’s, let’s go back to the past here a little bit. I, I would love to know, first off, The broader managed wifi, right? Cause there’s a lot of things in our space. I mean, we, we talk about everything on this podcast, from security to CX, to cloud, to network, to SD wan, and now we’re talking about wifi.

So, so walk us through you know, your, your exposure first off to the broader wifi landscape. And maybe, maybe just define it because. There’s probably a lot of partners listening to this, that one don’t even know that we can do this, but just tell us about, you know, your exposure [00:04:00] first to it and kind of what your experience has been, what you’ve seen in that so far.


Sarah Freeman: things occurred to me in 2018 that. Got me curious about the wifi landscape and what it could do. The first was when I was in Dallas, I was in an, in a mall in Dallas, and I was at Aldo. I was shoe shopping with somebody else at Aldo, and I was standing in front of this pair of red boots and I just thought, oh my gosh, these are ridiculous.

I would not buy these boots, but I was standing in front of them long enough. For them to send me a coupon through social media because I got, I got bored. I was shoe shopping with somebody else. I went outside the store, I sat down. I started looking at Facebook and instantly there’s a coupon for these red Aldo boots on my Facebook feed.

And I was like, whoa, wait, what just happened here? Now we know malls, most malls were already outfitted with Meraki at the time. But that got my wheels spinning. So then I was, at Fast forward, I’m in my own office and I’m looking at the, the analytics of what’s going on from my own access points, my curiosity, what’s going on here, [00:05:00] how did they see this?

And I could see Mac addresses of people walking by my building that weren’t even connected to my wifi. They were going into the furniture store next door, and I was like, whoa, hang up. What’s going on here? This is really cool. At the time, I never thought about monetizing it or utilizing it for anything.

I just thought it was cool.

Josh Lupresto: Interesting. Yes. So maybe let’s go then. When when you first kind of started at Tolo and you became a partner, where did you start out? Did you start out because of your knowledge in some of this wifi stuff? Did you start out in, in Ucas, CX, SD and security? Where, where did it first start for you?

Sarah Freeman: Cybersecurity, as always. The first conversation out of my mouth that happened because my experience with my previous business running my own stack, not getting it to the cloud, managing my own security, which I should not have been doing, doing all the things that the C-suite should not do. I checked all those boxes.

So my heart is really in cybersecurity and that tends to come out of my mouth the most, although my passion is in iot analytics. And what can you do with this data? [00:06:00] Right?

Josh Lupresto: Right. I mean, I guess if you, if you take. Look at the, the, the channel as it was, you know, 10 plus years ago, where we didn’t have a lot of these cool technologies to sell on the sas, you know, the, as a service model.

And we had to sell and could only sell some of these things like network and connectivity and long distance and stuff like that. When you, what is the, what is that conversation like with a prospect that you’re going into net new and you’re starting to talk to them about security and wifi, right.

What is that dynamic like? Because I have to imagine, I’m not gonna put words in your mouth, but I have to imagine that allows you to pivot to just about, help them realizing you can help them with just about anything.

Sarah Freeman: Pretty much just about anything. The conversation usually starts with people being curious because I’m a woman in tech and it’s the, hang on.

What do you do and what’s your focus? And so that’s my, you know, my, my tagline or my, my talk track is usually, well, I’m an advisor that I can do everything. I’m like the Amazon of technology, but I love cybersecurity and, [00:07:00] and analytics and iot, and that gets their interest, kind of planting those seeds. The questions that I ask are, are you happy with the outcome of your business right now?

And that kind of, that ruffles their feathers a little bit. Usually it’s, it’s not a question that everybody loves hearing because there’s always something weighing on them in the background.

Josh Lupresto: Yeah. Fair. Good. I love that. All right, so, so let’s jump in a little bit to this, you know, the wifi, the analytics side.

So, so, you know, you mentioned, I think a good example of what, what caught your attention early on, but maybe walk me through, you know, knowing now that we’ve got platforms, we’ve got wifi, we’ve got analytics, these are in our bucket partners listening to this, can do this today. Help them, you know, if they’re out having some of these similar conversations, helping business owners figure out you know, how to solve some of these outcomes.

What are some of the data points that I can retrieve? Right. It seems like it’s so much more than just saying, what kind of access points do you need? What’s your range and where do I need to put ’em? Depending on the

Sarah Freeman: type of business. So [00:08:00] if it’s, you know, stores are great examples, grocery stores anything, you know, you have people coming in and out, right?

So Starbucks is always a great example. Where are people standing the most when they come in the door? What direction do they walk in? What is their first focus? How does that go? You don’t even need to be signed into the wifi to see those data points, but if you really wanna get into it, If I have your app and I’m, I walk into the grocery store across the street and I have that app downloaded, now they know it’s me walking in the store.

Now they know what I like. They wanna know what my shopping experience is like. What do I go there three days a week for? You know, why does this person do that? What do I shop for the most? Do I always buy the same thing on Thursdays?

Josh Lupresto: Now I, if you take that a step further, then is this a. How do I use, how, how does the business wanna use this data?

My, my gut goes to, oh, okay, it improves us of, you know, where to put the right items. But, but are you looking at this from operational efficiency? Are you looking at this for revenue? How do you tell the business owners that No, no, you can use it for [00:09:00] this.

Sarah Freeman: So I, it’s not really tell, you know, going in and trying to pitch that idea and telling them, you have to get their wheels spinning and get them to tell you what they want to flow better in their process.

Do we need more operational efficiency of that flow of traffic through our building or through a, a sports arena? I love going to Suns games, and you can tell, I’ll, I’ll pick the entrance that the. Other 10,000 people are not going into. Why is that? Why are they all going to that entrance? Entrance? What’s the draw there as from, that’s for operational efficiency, but if you wanna monetize that, of course I love using Starbucks as an example.

Anytime I get anywhere near a Starbucks, something pops up from the wrap, I get an email. The same thing goes with Verizon and there’s a whole laundry list of those things of driving me in there. Even though I only signed in once and having that application, if you’re going way down into the weeds of it, having your own app gives them permission to do that.

Anytime I get in near one of their stores.

Josh Lupresto: I love it. Yeah. I feel you. I, I suppose you know, you, you, you take what you know of [00:10:00] how it can be used and when you’re having a conversation with the customer, it seems like sometimes our job is just connecting the dots, right? They may have an expectation of, oh, it only does this, or maybe that’s some technology that I don’t know how to get, or I, you know, isn’t mainstream it and I can’t use, and, and you come in and say, no, you, you want to use it for those, this is exactly how we can use it, and here’s how you do it.

Sarah Freeman: Yeah, exactly. And it’s not just mainstream. It’s not just big, big brand.

Josh Lupresto: Yeah, yeah. No, great point. You know, it’s funny now that you bring that up. I think about I think I’ve used Uber Eats. I’m a door dasher, right? I, I, I use that more than anything. And I’ve used Uber Eats maybe a couple times, maybe, maybe two times, ever.

But what I’ve noticed the last three or four times that I’ve been in x, y, z food place or a grocery store, it’s very coincidental when the Uber Eats notification is. 30% off. Why don’t you try this membership? So, but it, it gets you thinking, right? Out of sight outta mind, but front of mind, you get all the attention.

If you get that screen, you, you, you get that screen Real estate on a consumer’s device, that’s just gotta be such gold for a [00:11:00] business. And I have to imagine that that is what a lot of these businesses want when you’re having these conversations.

Sarah Freeman: Yeah, absolutely. And take that. So you don’t even need to have that screen real estate on, on your device.

Say you’re a small chain hotel, you’re a boutique hotel or a bed and breakfast, and you really want to, you help build the revenue of the people in the area. You want people to sign onto your wifi so you can use their data to then redirect their ads or whatever that is. So you have the business, you have the coffee shop down the street, you have a picture up next to the elevator or inside the elevator.

You’re writing on the elevator. Scan this QR code and you get 10% off or sign in our wifi and you get 10% off your meal at whatever local restaurant. So now you can get everybody on board and really use that landscape to retarget and, and. Make a better experience for the users overall. Yeah. And then you get, then you know what the data points, you know where they like to go.

So then you can advertise to them. Say you have one in California, but you also have one in Vermont. And you know, they like coffee shops and you know, they like [00:12:00] ice cream. So you know what exactly how to draw them in there. Let’s take a tour of Ben and Jerry’s. You get 50% off when you stay at our bed and breakfast.

Josh Lupresto: You know one of my favorite things, hearing from a partner way back when when we were talking about what are some strategies that you use to, to help customers understand. Prospects understand how you can help them, right? Because if they’re getting called by 1, 2, 3 different you know, direct vendors or, or different partners or whatever, how do you stand out?

And I thought it was so life-changing when a partner said, I just go door knock. I walk, you know, if I’m trying to sell you cas, I walk in the door, I look and see what phone system they have, I call them and I see what the experience is like and I bring them back. That data. Right. And I, and I have to imagine that that sets them, I know it does.

It sets them so far apart in what they do and what that experience is like. And I, I have to imagine that if you can then what you’re mentioning, get the customer’s prospects wheels turning. And then you can help them stand out from their competition as such a leg up and say, [00:13:00] Hey, I, you know, I, I worked with some of these other ones.

Here’s what they’re doing. Or Here’s what people in your industry are doing. You could stand out if you do this because other people aren’t doing this. That’s just, that has to be such gold of data for the customers to have and set themselves apart, and then you end up making them look like the hero.

Sarah Freeman: Exactly. Exactly.

Josh Lupresto: All right. Let’s get into the weeds here. I wanna, I wanna call out an awesome kind of an example. I’d love to get to this part of the podcast and talk about I think the message is, Things don’t always end up as they start. It might start with, I need help with connectivity, or I’m struggling with, you know, throttling or bottlenecks somewhere on the network, or my aps are going down, or, or whatever.

Right? The range isn’t good. It starts anywhere. The point in this is this is the part of the podcast, I like to call out what people are seeing out there as a good example of either, you know, did a, did a, did a thing with a customer, start out one way and then end another. What kind of technology did you [00:14:00] see?

What did you learn? And then obviously the end is how do you hope that helps the customer? How did that help the customer? So walk us through an example of something you’ve worked on. I have a great

Sarah Freeman: example that even ties in what you were just saying previously. A friend of mine owns a Cava Bar in downtown Phoenix.

He also has a location in Sedona. I was sitting in there, I, I frequent there. It’s, they advertise as a co-working space. You’ll see a lot of people there between 11 and three o’clock just hanging out with their computers, doing their jobs, taking calls. One day I noticed that the camera on the outside of the building was facing a different direction and I, I made a comment to him on it, like, what, why is what happened here?

And he said, oh, somebody threw something at it, knocked it out. And I said, well, aren’t you, aren’t you gonna fix it? Does that not matter? Are you not getting the video that you want? And he said, oh no, they don’t work. Like, what do you mean they don’t work? Well, they had their service through a major I s P and there was some issues there and what they were paying and blah, blah, blah.

So they, they. Turned off the cameras and there’s no [00:15:00] security. This isn’t in the, it’s not in in the bad part of Phoenix, but it is still downtown Phoenix. There are still issues there. There are still 18, 19 year olds opening that store in the morning and closing it at one o’clock, two o’clock in the morning.

So there’s a security and a safety issue there. So I used one of our vendors and offered him a small business promo and got ’em outfitted with a se with the security cameras there, and then we in turn did their Sedona location. A few months later, I’m sitting in there. I noticed that they changed their wifi.

For whatever reason, my phone didn’t wanna give me my hotspot and I just needed to do something quick that didn’t need to be super secure. So, alright, I’ll hop him up on his wifi. And I get the splash page for Major I s P that I have to sign into their splash page, and I’m giving them all their permissions and I’m, I’m the paperwork jerk.

I read the T’s and C’s, so I’m going through the T’s and C’s going, whoa, hang on a minute. They’re gonna sell all of my information to their affiliates. You’re giving them permission. To sell your information to their affiliates to then turn around and target you back through [00:16:00] ads, promos, et cetera. If you read the T’s and C’s on that, it gets very granular on what they can do and what they will be doing with your data.

So I call him because he is, he’s a friend. I call him and said, hang on a minute. You should be capturing this info. This was about a year ago. You should be capturing this info. This, this should be your utilizing this to be able to get your client’s info and then maybe retarget or resell to them. They brushed it off.

Until somebody else mentioned something about them having developing their own app for their point system, some, a better way to track that versus the phone number in the system they were having. And it turned back into, we wanna have our own splash page. We wanna capture the names and emails of the people that are coming in.

And I said, but what are you gonna do with that data? And it, well, we’re gonna, we’re gonna target to them. I’m like, well, how do you know what their Facebook page is? Well, Well, I guess we’ll have to, we’ll, we’ll get them to sign in and like our Facebook page too, and I led them down. That line of questioning said, okay, cool.

I’ve got a better solution for you if we do this [00:17:00] with, with, with the right, if we utilize tele system and purple and add those wifi analytics into here. So not only can you have your own splash page, you get to capture that information, it’s going to be digested through purple. You can use that to send out the ads to retarget.

To utilize their Facebook and, and all of all of the things, all of their social media, to then have that. And you have that at one place where you don’t have to have somebody going individually and hoping that you capture that. And not only that, but you can also see all the other data points. Whereas one of their issues where their Sedona location is, there’s a lot of people, it seems like there’s a lot of people there, and they congregate in the front of the store outside.

There’s a nice seating area. They’ve really made this space really welcoming and inviting, but the sales are low. So if you have all these people here and it’s so busy, why are your sales low? What’s happening there? Are the people actually coming in and ordering something? Or did you just create a really cool space outside because they’re getting a coffee two spaces down and hanging out in your area?

Mm-hmm. And so [00:18:00] now we’re starting to see that of are the people actually coming in? Are these clients, where are the, you know, From all those little data points, the Mac addresses, et cetera. And now we’ll be adding a QR code on a poster outside saying, Hey, come in here. Scan the qr. Now you’re on your network.

Now you can see the full data points. Now they can get discounts and start to monetize that wonderful area of congregation that they’ve put out in front of their store.

Josh Lupresto: Love it. What there’s, there’s just so much there. Such a great example. But in the end of it, it’s just, it’s so simple. I think sometimes for, it seems like for customers, we’re solving problems and that’s urgent and it’s time sensitive, and that’s all they can see.

And then other times it’s well, have you thought about this? So I love, I love the way that you kind of pulled all of that together. Awesome example. Thank you. So, so this, this all sounds great and it sounds like how could this ever go wrong, right? So I wanna challenge this for a second and say, if I go out and I have some of these conversations, what are some of the things that I’m gonna run into with [00:19:00] customers, right?

I mean, what, what’s some of the pushback that you get and how do you, how do you continue to talk through that? If you get any pushback on this, maybe you don’t.

Sarah Freeman: Well, the first, and I did with this one, because they’re a small business, they’re not big brand, so the first thing that came to mind was, oh, I can’t afford that.

That’s for Target. It’s like, well, hang on a minute. Yes you can, and here’s why. And you’re also losing revenue, so let’s show you the R O I on that, or it’ll take a lot of work, or I don’t want my systems disrupted, or one of my favorites. What about the security? Well, thankfully, tele system adds their own firewall into there.

So now you have that secure access wifi. Which I feel much more secure than some of the major ISPs.

Josh Lupresto: Yeah. Fair. No good. That’s a good one. Okay, so, so then final couple questions here. As we, as we kind of dial this in it, my favorite part is asking questions. I, I think you mentioned a good one in the beginning.

If you wanna maybe recap on that. If I’m a partner and I’m listening to this and I’m in CCAs and I wanna pivot over to this, now you’ve sold me on this. I’ve got, maybe it’s [00:20:00] retail customers, maybe I’ve got just other customers that I’m thinking of. What would you tell partners about this that aren’t comfortable?

Is there maybe a couple other questions that you would give them to, to help continue that conversation, to pull everybody in?

Sarah Freeman: Well, I would tell ’em to start by digging into the business and what they do. Because then the questions will come get curious about what the business and how it operates, because then the questions will come.

We can’t give you a canned set of questions to ask every individual business. They’re all different. Moving in from a, moving from a, a UCAS or a circuit deal, it’s easy to go from circuits to ucas to that because you’ll find that out along the way. What’s on your network? What are you running? Okay, cool.

Let’s talk about this. Plant that seed for later. Are you happy with? But really, ultimately, the first question is, are you happy with X, Y, Z? Are you happy with your business outcome? Whatever that is. Are you happy with the amount of clients that you have between 12 and 3:00 PM What’s happening there? And then the next question is, would you like help with that?

Josh Lupresto: I love it. [00:21:00] Beautiful. All right, final thoughts here as we look out with this ominous music into the future. Where do you think this goes? And, and, you know, I like, I think it’s with AI and things like that, it’s hard to look out much past. You know, 12 plus months. But this is just a in Sarah’s opinion, right.

Do we, do we double down on everything that you’ve just mentioned? Or are there any rapid and upcoming changes that you see in technology that, that might change any of the things that we just mentioned? What’s your, what’s your 12 month out month outlook on this look like? I

Sarah Freeman: think we’re, we’re here, there.

This isn’t a future thing, right? It’s here. And I don’t see a rapid change. The only thing rapid changing is, is would be this, how do we get these analytics? How do we utilize this? Because down the road they’ll be able to, to utilize those, those analytics, that information, those data points in those other use cases.

So to having it now, And then also having an application that tied to it. So you always, that’s where I see a lot of people going. They’re building their own apps. It doesn’t cost much. You can have a 12 year old do it from their [00:22:00] iPhone. Just build a basic app to collect some of that data and also get the permissions to advertise to them and pull it in.

So we’re here now, so. And I see that sticking for, for a long time. And the only, the only, I mean if we really wanna go down that rabbit hole, it’s gonna hit your vehicles everywhere you’re walking. I mean, it’s already there, but you’re gonna start seeing that being, that data being more prevalent and out there and as long as you keep giving those permissions, that’s gonna allow to be happen.

Josh Lupresto: Love it. Okay, Sarah, that wraps us up. We covered a ton of good stuff. I really appreciate you coming on. This has been awesome. Thank you for this. Okay. Partners, if you’ve got any questions we’d love to hear your suggestions, more things you wanna see, different things you wanna see, you can always email nlbt@telarus.Com.

Sarah Freeman Attollo Tech, I’m your host, Josh Lupresto, SVP of Sales, Telarus. This is Next Level BizTech.