The digital transformation is upon us, and telecom operators seem to be the ones directly under the impact of it. The advent of new data and technological needs has meant that we now need to give nothing less than the best to our customers. As part of this assurance of the best customer service, telecom operators need to up their game when it comes to sales and network distribution.
Due to technology and the Internet, we now have new and refreshed distribution channels. These distribution challenges are centered on data driven insights, and telecom operators have to work on them to get their distribution game right. Operators also have to work on multi-channel networks that deliver the goods. Due to this digital transformation, operators now have to naturally make alterations in their sales and distribution strategy. There is a need for a paradigm shift in this regard, and operators have to endeavor towards it, rather than waiting for the shift to happen.
Challenges while Implementing an Effective Sales and Distribution Strategy
With all the talk about the need for telecom operators to change their sales and network distribution techniques, this change won’t be as easy as it sounds. Telecom operators have to realize the need for complete transparency and ensuring that there is no flaw in the process. There are certain complications that telecom operators will face in this regard. Here we look at some of these complications:
- High value transaction being executed through credit sales: One of the biggest challenges impeding the way of telecom operators towards the revolution in sales and distribution is the credit challenge. Operators will have to realize that they will incur big transactions through credit sales. They have to take care of their liquidity and make a future plan based on this concern for liquidity. They cannot slack off here, as the wrong plan might lead them to disaster in their cash stream.
- Payouts through commissions: Their employee payouts will mostly be focused on commissions, as employees will try to achieve customer retention and complex sales targets. The criteria for employee evaluation cannot be the same, as going digital requires a change in the perception.
- Unrealized Inventory: Unrealized inventory will create another hindrance towards efficiency. Operators should be able to realize inventory, and not hide efficiencies under the sea of inventory. Efficiency is important here, and should not be ignored.
Defining a Successful Strategy
While one cannot point out any sure shot strategy towards success in the implementation of better sales and distribution methods, the basic idea behind every strategy should be to sell the right product to the right customer at the right time, through the selection of all appropriate channels. In addition to this, modernizing all existing sales is something that needs to be done. A success strategy would select areas where this method can properly be implemented.
Shrinking Partner Hierarchies
Telecom operators are currently involved in numerous partnerships with various suppliers. These partnerships require suppliers to fulfill requests for all new services, rather than just forwarding them. With the supplier becoming a partner, their role ultimately changes. Partners now have to receive devices from third party providers, bundle these devices, and upsell them. With this idea established, one cannot go without comprehending the disruption in the supply chain that is about to happen. A product-specific relationship is to be established between resellers and retailers, and the idea is to ensure that any supplier can provide any product to any retailer.
Blurring of Channel Boundaries
Each sales channel, in traditional methods of selling, had different partners and suppliers. These sales channels were used to push forward products that overlapped, but were different from each other. However, this is about to change. In this era of digitalization, non-direct channels have to cater to new demands by playing a dual role.
This dual role is required, because customers are expected to interact with operators through channels that they have chosen themselves. Operators must ensure product availability at these channels, since they will now be functioning as device collection points and as extended customer service endpoints. Simply put, operators will have to become creative and make non-direct channels function more like direct channels.
Management of Territory and Sales KPIs
Since digitization has brought a much-needed change in the both partner and channel structures, it is about time that sales measurement techniques are overhauled. Measuring sales focused on territorial data would soon become outdated, and leave organizations wondering. Sales and distribution teams will have to define newer boundaries. Systems that do not account for the sales achieved through digital channels will not meet future requirements and expectations. There is a need for defining newer logical territorial boundaries that overlay the boundaries for physical territories. In some cases, operators will have to completely eliminate the requirement for traditional methods of sales measurement through territory.
A Future Roadmap
With digitization expected to signal towards a paradigm shift in how sales and distribution channels for telecom operators work, there needs to be a unique approach for making your sales system highly configurable. Some potential features of this approach include:
All operators utilizing a solution in sales and distribution will go towards a mobile interface as the de-facto option. The mobile interface will, however, have to account for all the active players in the market. These active players in the value chain include distributors, operators, and end subscribers. All of these players need to be wary of what is coming, and they should work along these lines in the future.
Analytics and Offer Management
Although analytics have found their way through most enterprises, sales and distribution systems are still limited when it comes to use cases. The use of analytics in sales and distribution is ideal, as analytics offer multiple benefits. Operators will have to gather data and perform analytics to get feasible analysis out of it. Once they have actionable insights, they will be able to gather necessary data for promoting new products through distributors. While the use of analytics in sales and distribution might come across currently as too early for its time, there is a massive need for understanding how it can revolutionize the shift towards the digital world. Operators that use these methods will stand above the competition when it comes to understanding sales patterns and distribution efficiency.
Simplify Management of Sales and Channel
It is necessary for operators to simplify the management of sales funnels and channels. As we mentioned above, non-direct channels may stand above the rest, but there is still some need for simplification. Operators can opt for an API gateway, which may reduce the hassle involved with sales channels. With digitization, the sales ecosystem may become even more complex, which is why a robust infrastructure, provided through an API gateway, is a necessity.
If you want to read more about the digital transformation in sales and distribution, and what telecom operators should do about it, you can go and read the online e-book by MahindraComviva here.
By Ronald van Loon
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