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Break the pattern!

This is Part – 1 of a 2-part series – the concluding part will be published tomorrow:

Business won’t survive for long without method & measure – didn’t someone say that if you don’t know which road to take any road can lead you there – and here is a business that seemed to be going nowhere till ….

Tom sells postpaid cellular phone connections to Small & Medium Businesses. In line with global trends the local market is dominated by prepaid users, over 95% of the customer base. Postpaid is a niche product that is offered to businesses and high networth individuals based on their credit worthiness.

Tom’s organisation is involved in a nine -way battle in this market and to add to the complexity tele-density is over 110%; hence new business can be acquired only in one of two ways:

–          Sell more connections to existing users

–          Convince customers to switch network

And the size of Tom’s addressable market grows a little when new names are added to the list after survey and validation.

One small factor that facilitates easy movement from one network to another is the availability of number portability – the Telecom Regulatory Agency has permitted customers to retain their number while moving from one Operator’s network to another.

However, the tariffs are more or less equal across networks and no operator has any major advantage by way of features. One bugbear for most customers has been the drop in Quality of Service with increase in revenue and customer base. Telecom Operators need to address that concern and use service as a differentiator.

As things stand it is a level playing field.

Tom needs to deliver the business expectations against this backdrop. He has been with this organisation for 2 years now and has worked in the telecom business for over 5 years. Like most entrenched players he has fallen into a pattern and rhythm – the pace and the seasonality of business were taken for granted.

After many years of growth the telecom sector is experiencing turbulence both on revenues and on the regulatory side – organisations are fighting to stay afloat.

Sales had stagnated and his organisation wanted to shake things up a bit – into the calm and comfortable pool & the shark came in the shape of a new Business Manager. He had worked in a business sector that was extremely competitive and work was extremely challenging round the year. Unlike telecom, that had been growing all these years in India, his previous employer operated in a mature market and they had to fight for every sale – to make that happen they were activity focused and highly process oriented, nothing was left to chance.

The Business Manager quickly assessed the situation and discovered the following:

–          Their organisation was third in size not because they were behind the leaders on any parameter; it’s only because the other two had entered the market 3 years earlier, due to the license norms.

–          The Sales Team worked the market in a perfunctory way; their philosophy hitherto had been “Why do extra work if targets can be reached with lower effort?”

–          Very little analysis was done on the market or on the business done – there was no knowledge of where they stood vis-à-vis the competition in this segment.

–          There was no methodology adopted by the Sales team – they didn’t maintain much data on the customers beyond the information needed on the Application & Credit Rating documents.

–          No metrics were in place to analyse the Sales Effort.

Tom and his co-workers were put on a new program by the Business Manager. There was no magic involved; it was common sense and could have been done earlier if the team had thought about it. But then complacence and comfort stops you from thinking / doing what is right.

Tom had to gather business intelligence from his existing accounts and the prospect base; they gathered information on key officials, number of cellular phone connections, the Operators who were providing the service, the tariffs they were offering the clients, the growth plans of the customers and prospects and so on.

In a short time, along with the business the team had gathered crucial bits of information about their clients, prospects and the competition. Now they knew where they stood with respect to the other players in the market and what share of the revenue they were getting from the segment.

The Business Manager had his game-plan in place by then – he did not rock the boat too much by increasing the business target. But he knew that to achieve it much more work had to be done.

With the help of the Sales Data and daily call rate he worked out conversion rates and sales productivity and then told the team that the following are necessary to reach and exceed the target for the year:

–          Adopt a Sales Process

–          Speeding up the Sales Cycle

–          Enhance Sales Productivity

–          Increase the average Sale Price

The Business Manager had sized up the situation and hit upon a methodology to tackle the problem; tomorrow we will discuss in detail the game-plan he wished to put in place.


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  1. July 13, 2012 at 2:30 am

    I will wait for the next cup of game soup for the soul.

    • JayadevM
      July 13, 2012 at 4:07 am

      Hi Umashankar

      Omar Khhayam – like response … embellishes my business blog with its philosophical and poetic twist.

      The quill is poised, soup’s on its way …

  2. jaishvats
    July 13, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Hi jayadev

    Well said . Being too much in comfort will take a toll on productivity

    • JayadevM
      July 14, 2012 at 3:06 am

      Hi Jayasree

      You said it. People don’t realise it till they are deep in trouble.


  3. July 13, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    It’s like they say, ‘what cannot be measured, is not work’….no measuring does bring in a sense of complacency……Nice Insight 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • JayadevM
      July 14, 2012 at 3:05 am

      Hi Jay

      That’s right … it’s also said that “if you can’t measure it you can’t improve it”.

      Blissful disregard for a crisis would be the result of not measuring. (I remember a cartoon on the cover of MAD magazine. Alfred E Neuman (their Mascot) is shown with a beatific smile on his face and saying “What me worry?” while there is a mushroom cloud of an A-Bomb growing in the background.)

      Thank you for reading and for posting those thoughts.

  4. Jamy
    July 14, 2012 at 5:31 am

    Sitting in a comfort zone for too long shall result in your backside getting kicked hard allava sudden… great stuff Jay!

    • JayadevM
      July 14, 2012 at 5:50 am

      Damn right, Jamy! 🙂

      Thank you.

  5. July 15, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Analytic Matters to Small businesses too !

    • JayadevM
      July 16, 2012 at 11:40 am


      All businesses benefit from analysis

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