Should you build or buy multichannel sales software?

This is the era of the frictionless customer onboarding experience, and companies can no longer opt out. All organisations are going after more personalised, more consistent and bottleneck-free experiences across multichannel sales and onboarding. Those who don’t get ahead will inevitably fall behind and get their customers stuck in the sales pipeline.

When your goal is to keep shuffling people through your sales funnel, the question is not if you should adopt better technology for customer acquisition and onboarding, but how? If the software already exists as an off-the-shelf solution, you can buy it - but should you? If you have the resources in house to build it, you can do so - but what are the implications?  

We’re specialists in sales software for customer acquisition and customer onboarding, and we have first-hand insight into what it’s like to build, buy and customise software for this purpose. So here’s a brief overview of what we’ve learned. 

 

Build: control your buyer experience 

Building your own sales software has several distinct advantages: 

  • You don’t need to pay up front for new software 
  • Your organisation is in complete control of what you build 
  • You can build the software around very specific requirements 

The build approach leaves your organisation with all its cards in hand. Your in-house developers can build the software to an exact design based on your sales goals, and your organisation only needs to pay for the upkeep.  

So, if your organisation can spare the time and resources, can avoid the costs of purchase and get a platform that meets the needs of your entire team and customer base perfectly, why wouldn't you? 

Well, the catch is that this perfect scenario can be difficult to attain.  

First, it is a rare thing for an IT project to stay in scope, on time and on budget without a few unexpected hidden costs. In a Harvard Business Review study of 1,481 IT change initiatives, the average cost overrun was 27% and one in six projects had a cost overrun of 200% and a schedule overrun of nearly 70%.  

You can’t blame it all on project management though. It’s often just a hazard of the field. Software focused on customer experience is constantly evolving – and the goalposts are too. 

At PSI we’ve come across many companies that spent two and sometimes up to four years building the same type of software. By the time it is deployed, there's a whole new market of modern buyers and the company has moved on, along with competitive standards, often making the technology no longer fit for purpose.  

 

Buy: Get sales software up and running fast 

Purchasing software has its own advantages: 

  • Get it in the hands of your sales teams quickly 
  • Reserve your in-house resources for your core work 
  • Make the most of time-sensitive opportunities 

When you choose to buy off-the-shelf sales software, you inevitably sacrifice some control and customisation. The software might not be ideally suited for your industry, and it may not perfectly suit your ideal customer journey for every channel. 

What you lose in perfect fit, you gain in speed. When the need is time-sensitive, it’s often best to choose a quick off-the-shelf buying process so you don’t miss your window of opportunity.  

You’re also purchasing peace of mind when it comes to compliance and watertight security. When you need to navigate GDPR or CCPA, or other data privacy regulations, it’s often worth buying software simply to avoid the risk of non-compliance with its associated fines and PR damage.  

If existing software out there meets 60% or more of your requirements, it’s likely worth buying, even if it’s not a perfect fit. You may not have complete influence over the product roadmap but many vendors will collaborate extensively with potential customers to build or improve their products. If the software is designed to be customisable, you’re also far more likely to find a good fit for your organisation. 

Typically building software from the ground up is best reserved for when the technology is at the core of your offering. For us at PSI, the beating heart of what we do is multichannel sales software, so it makes sense for us to devote as many in-house resources as possible to the task. But it also makes sense for us to purchase software that lies outside our core business.  

While it can seem like a cost-saving to have your in-house developers reimagine how you approach customer acquisition and customer onboarding - you sacrifice much in opportunity. Every moment your developers spend on looking for potential solutions to your sales software is a moment they are not working on developing your core business, whether that means creating digital products for 5G or key infrastructure for analysing your company data.  

 

Configure: Tailor existing software to your multichannel sales strategy 

A third option, which isn’t always considered, is to buy highly customisable software. This is effectively a middle ground between building and buying: 

  • Get a sophisticated system fit for multichannel sales in your industry 
  • Configure the software to your unique requirements, and apply branding  
  • Do more projects in less time, with the same resources 

Developers are used to finding a wide range of ways to stop reinventing the wheel. They’ll use open-source tools to build complex architecture or they’ll use “headless solutions” that provide backend functionality, so they can focus their expertise where it matters most. In other words, they source generic software from specialist vendors, and then use APIs to connect it with the unique elements of what they’re building in real-time.  

Similarly, with customer acquisition and onboarding you can find highly customisable software that can be configured to your organisation’s unique vision and set up. This means you don’t need to compromise on off-the-shelf software that’s not designed with your industry or organisation in mind. And you can also get set up in weeks not years - which is how long you’d need to wait if you tried to build the same software in-house - so you can fast track the entire customer journey to accelerate business growth. 

This customisation and speed is exactly what our Touchstone and Fusion products offer. “We’ve built features to enable us to build and change customer journeys without reinventing the wheel each time,” says David Costello, CEO of PSI Mobile. “This is the low code/no code scenario, and these products provide our customers with powerful tools to be able to do more complex projects in less time, with the same resources.” 

If you're a business owner and want to learn more about how you can configure sales software to meet your sales goals, see our article on multichannel sales tech and how it fits together to give you a competitive advantage. 

 


Restart, rebuild, reimagine –  the story behind our multichannel sales tech

According to research by EPFL university, 73% of start-ups need to pivot to a different market over time. The sector first targeted by a tech company rarely stays the focus forever, and so it was with PSI. 

Before we stepped into sales software we worked with pharmaceuticals, trading excess stock to prevent pharmaceutical waste. It wasn’t long before we saw the need for improved sales applications in that industry, and the first one we designed transformed a pharma company’s manual, slow processes and made their customer acquisition much more efficient. This would be an ongoing theme for many years to come. 

 

Honing in on telco, utility and sales software 

We were soon doing the same for mobile technology projects, and after experimenting with a number of different directions, we found our stride in 2010 when we overhauled sales processes with Miller Brown and Eir, Ireland’s largest telco operator. 

“The PSI platform was an instant improvement,” says Mark Higgins, Eir’s Head of Field & Affiliate Sales. “Not only are our reps better equipped, but I now have instant insight into sales. I can see which bundles are selling well, which regions are hitting their targets and the progress of orders. All in real time.” 

We had found our sweet spot so we honed in on it. Over the next 12 years we designed and provided sales software solutions for telco and utility. Our 1.0 platform evolved to service these industries with increasing focus.  

 

Tearing down and building up to multichannel sales 

“Over a long period of time, technology that is built up like this becomes quite unmanageable,” says David Costello, CEO of PSI. “So we took a clean slate and rebuilt the platform to deliver everything we’d learned how to deliver, but in an efficient and scalable way – switching to web technology enabled us to support multichannel sales more effectively.” 

At this stage our solution was matured, omnichannel, and could be configured with our domain expertise. These are some of the aspects that made us appeal to Ogi, an ISP and managed IT services company that is transforming Wales’ digital landscape. 

“It’s very unusual to go out to market, as a start-up business, with a sophisticated automated sales process,” says Sally-Anne Skinner, Chief Revenue Officer at Ogi. “This is what we have with PSI.”  

 

How we stayed agile 

Part of the reason we were able to get this far has been our ability to pivot and keep on the frontfoot of evolving sales software and the needs of our customers. 

“We’re privately owned and we’re not VC backed,” says David, “so we don’t have funding that’s driving us down a particular path. This has enabled us to focus on a niche market and be agile in responding to what our customers want.”

This agility was key for SSE Airtricity, a leading green energy company, who had to respond fast during the pandemic to enable their business to deliver more with the same resources. They also needed to stay agile for future product updates. 

“Time is a major factor in this,” says Ernest Asensio, Retail Efficiency & Systems Manager of SSE Airtricity. “We needed to respond to changing requirements both initially from dialling up web functionality for business units, but also recurring as these business units would have a lot of frequent product changes… PSI Touchstone enables us to respond quicker and easier to save resources across multiple departments.” 

 

A long term solution for fast omnichannel sales 

 “We don’t just build and walk away,” says David. “We become an integral part of customer experience processes for our clients, and we constantly evolve these processes to do more with them.” 

This is the case with Eir, who switched to PSI to manage their customer acquisition and onboarding in 2010. Usually, if a company stayed with a legacy system for long, they would have to take on the difficulties of moving the tech forward, along with the costs of the almost inevitable rebuild. Instead, Eir simply kept telling us what they needed and we kept evolving the system for them. And when we saw the opportunity to rebuild, we absorbed that cost. 

“The simplicity of the system should not be ignored either,” says the Sales Director of Eir. “The PSI interface is simple, data is easily accessible, and the customer sign-up wizard is straightforward. This means that our reps can give more of their attention to clients, further smoothing the sales process and raising the quality of service we give them.” 

PSI’s initial pivot to sales software and telco and utility onboarding was a result of listening to the market – and we’re still listening now. We’re paying attention to the market and to our clients, following the good ideas to deliver something of value.  

To see what the latest version of our multichannel sales software can achieve for ambitious organisations, our work with Ogi is a prime example. Alexander Breverton, Ogi’s Telesales Manager adds, “PSI enables us to complete a quick sale in 10-15 mins from start to finish. This probably would have taken a couple of days in our previous out-of-the-box solution.” 

 To learn more about how we created this tailored solution in just a few months, see our case study on Ogi’s multichannel sales software. 


Connected Britain 2022 Event

We're going to

Where the UK’s connectivity leaders from across the public and private sector come to meet. 

Come see us at stand 'GB 141'

Connected Britain Event

Featuring over 250 innovators and disruptors in the telecoms sector, Connected Britain brings together the entire UK connectivity ecosystem together for two days of essential learning and networking.  

We’re excited to meet with people face to face again and to make the most of this occasion, we’re going to host a networking social at our stand GB141 between 330-5pm on the 20th September.

We welcome anyone that is keen to connect with others from the industry and celebrate the return of events like this, so come say hello!

See who's goingSee how we helped emerging telco, Ogi to scale and penetrate their market.

RSVP

If you’d like to find out how PSI are helping telcos to accelerate their multichannel sales capabilities, get in touch below and we’d love to set up a meeting at the event.  

Or if you want to keep things casual and pop by for the social, register your interest below.

    Meet the team

    Keep an eye out for the members of the team attending, they’d love to say hello.

    Julia McQuaid

    Customer Success and Commercial Manager

    Frank Egan

    CTO

    David Costello

    CEO

    Amy Keith

    Commercial Manager

    Sarah Roberts

    Commercial Manager

    Share this event

    How automation can accelerate telco and utility sales teams

    How much hassle, how much waiting and how many manual tasks lie between a first ‘hello’, a completed sale, and the moment the service is switched on for a customer?

    If telco and utility organisations make this first point of contact frictionless for the customer and sales rep, the benefit is simple: more sales close, more often. Automation is what will enable companies to leapfrog to this next generation sales and onboarding experience, along with its next generation margins.

    Telco and utility companies are already beginning to make automation work from them. Chatbots are saving time for customer service teams, machine learning is helping to generate call-lists, and some organisations are making moves towards a zero touch customer experience.

    Sales and onboarding teams, however, probably have the most to gain from automation, AI and smart integrated systems. They’re the ones for whom almost every minute counts – and for whom the seamlessness of the experience can make or break a sale.

     

    What many systems lack

    By HubSpot’s count, sales teams typically only spend 34% of their time talking to prospects, and most of the rest of their time completing tasks that could be automated.

    We’ve seen before with clients that even if an application is quick to complete initially,  progress often stumbles, trips and crawls its way through a company’s systems afterwards. Forms can take time to arrive at head office. Payment details might later need to be re-verified by phone.

    Ogi, an ISP and managed IT services company, knew this pain first hand. “Out of the box B2B sales solutions tend not to be fit for purpose for residential sales,” says Telesales Manager Alexander Breverton. “There’s lots of manual provisioning, manually sending customer emails and manually sending terms and conditions.”

    So what’s the alternative?

     

    Automated systems at a glance

    In McKinsey’s report, A Blueprint for Telecom’s Critical Reinvention, the authors argue that  “telcos’ success will hinge on their ability to leverage data and deploy advanced analytics, AI and automation at scale to drive new sources of growth and change the broader economics of the business.”

    Similarly, in Salesforce’s report A new chapter of Telco service transformation, the case is made that telco companies need to face up to the constraints of legacy architectures and build something new: “unified back-end processes and increased automation that support slick and cost-effective front-end design and channel experiences.”

    Building new sophisticated architecture like this is a process that can take years – and much trial and error. But with Ogi, we demonstrated that it’s possible to configure a tailored, multichannel, sales-focused system in a matter of months, not years – with an intuitive frontend that new sales teams can quickly pick up and run with.

     

    A new and inspired team

    When a solution enables a sales team to validate, book installation appointments and complete the entire process on the spot, there’s a greater sense of completion. Nor does the sale’s associated commission still hang in the balance.

    Sophisticated automation doesn’t just reduce admin time, it also ensures that the right data is in your reps hands, whether they’re on the phone, in the field, or following up on an incomplete web sale.

    This kind of provisioning reduces frustration and helps to promote an inclusive sales culture, where telesales can pass a lead to field sales if they can’t reach them, and vice versa.

     

    The Ogi experience

     Ogi’s managers are now able to create automated, optimised routes and campaigns for field reps – and their field and tele sales teams have rich data to help them achieve better results.

    Their teams can perform contactless sales with very little manual provisioning, booking installations at point of sale, and wrapping up a sale in moments. Everything else automates all the way to its final destination.

    “PSI enables us to complete a quick sale in 10-15 mins from start to finish,” says Alexander. “This probably would have taken a couple of days in our previous out-of-the-box solution.”

    To learn more, see our case study deep dive into how PSI helped Ogi scale and penetrate their market


    Multichannel sales tech: How it fits together to give you a competitive advantage

    In capped industries like utility and telco, you’re often targeting people who are already with a competitor and likely don’t actively switch providers. To stand a chance of winning these customers and their long term loyalty, you need to build trust through flawless customer experiences – that’s where multichannel comes in.

    Your customers live in a multichannel society now. The standard is instant, convenient, frictionless onboarding – and anything less than this feels jarring. Customers expect to interact with brands face to face and over the phone and web, without needing to join the dots themselves.

    Many utility and telco companies are working with legacy systems. Which means any that can master the complexities of this new multichannel playing field will gain a distinct competitive advantage.

     

    What kind of system is needed for multichannel sales?

    As McKinsey’s telco report Change the channel: A new multitouch point portfolio outlines, multichannel sales tech is what will set future telco industry winners apart. But it needs buy in from everyone in the business to bring all channels and departments together:

    “Delivering a multichannel strategy and enabling cross-channel customer journeys usually requires significant changes in IT platforms,” the authors write.

    “Target IT capabilities to be developed include, among many others, a cross-channel product advisory engine, a fully multichannel architecture offering, an agile operations platform supporting real-time automated processing, fully online event-driven CRM, and a fully parametrical product catalog.”

    However, a complex system only needs to be complex under the hood. For sales reps it should be effortless – an automated breeze that enables them to whisk people through a tailored customer journey and close deals almost instantly anywhere, anytime.

    Off-the-shelf options that try to achieve this are rarely a good fit for telco and utility companies. They’re designed for different customer journeys and fewer processes, so they create additional friction for sales teams and anyone trying to manage the back end.

    To make cross-channel integration work behind the scenes, and to make it work effectively for customer journeys in utility and telco, often requires many tailored APIs. Zoom in on the multichannel architecture and it’s clear that this can’t be the work of just any developer.

     

    Multichannel architecture: how it should fit together

    When we configured our multichannel sales tech for Ogi, an ISP and managed IT services company, the engagement was as important as the delivery.

    We worked with Ogi to shape a customer journey for field, tele and web sales, and we identified what APIs we would need to pull in and push out the relevant data.

    While some systems might make use of only four calls, more sophisticated systems like Ogi’s can make use of up to 12 API calls. These can include requests, such as for product, address data and so on. They can also involve many outbound calls, sending information for payment verification, to book installations, to 3rd party systems and other sales processes.

    All this makes the tech simple but specialised on the surface, enabling Ogi’s reps to make contact with potential customers and close deals in record time – without stalling points in the process – on the phone or in the field.

    Beneath the surface, the cross-channel integration makes it possible to analyse sales performance metrics in a new way across field, tele and web sales. Ogi can see where they can retarget prospects that don’t complete the sales cycle, or where customer journeys needed to be tweaked further.

     

    What’s an affordable route?

     As a new contender in fibre, the Ogi team says they struggled to compete on price against other providers, so they needed to offer a great customer service as a USP.

    “The sales processes we had in the business before PSI were not fit for purpose,” says Sally-Anne Skinner, Chief Revenue Officer at Ogi. “We would not have been able to go out to market and deliver the scale that we have and the penetration that we have without significant amounts of customer dissatisfaction and pain and resources.”

    An out-of-the-box solution wouldn’t integrate field, tele and web sales in the way they needed. But sophisticated solutions are usually built gradually over many years, often from the ground up. Ogi couldn’t afford to wait.

    They needed a seamless multichannel experience. Although customers would never think of it in these terms, in a multichannel world, they are coming to expect tailored customer journeys, unified by an automated backend system.

    Using our full suite of products – Fusion Core, Pulse, and Touchstone – Ogi were able to create this seamless end-to-end sales journey across the three sales channels that they operate in. It was a world away from their former solution.

    “If we were still using that solution,” says Alexander Breverton, Telesales Manager at Ogi, “we wouldn’t have had the success we have had, it’s safe to say,”

    To learn more, see our case study deep dive into how PSI helped Ogi scale and penetrate their market


    Deciding whether to deploy your sales teams back into the field?

    Deciding whether to deploy your sales teams back into the field?

    Following our recent webinar we’re pleased to share our latest insight report that explores face to face engagement in energy and telco.

    This 10-page report is packed with actionable insights from industry leaders including Scottish Power, Utilita, SSE, Ogi, and So Energy.

    Enter your details to download your free insight report, and start preparing your sales team to get back out selling in the field.

    Featuring:



    Complaints: Moving from reactive to proactive engagement

    Customer complaints are a fact of life for most companies.

    From the humblest small business to the largest utility providers, there are bound to be at least a few unhappy customers from time to time. While some challenges are small and easily resolved, large numbers of complaints might serve as a warning sign that something is going wrong with your customer journey.

    In a competitive market retaining customers is key according to Bain & Company, "a 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit", they also say “a customer is 4 times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service-related than price- or product-related”. It's key therefore to get a handle on customer challenges as early as possible

    Here are 3 suggestions that you might find helpful in getting ahead of any risk:

    • Understand the root causes of customer challenges
    • Prioritise clear and effective communications with customers
    • Consistent and impactful training for your sales agents

     

    #1: Understanding the root cause of customer challenges

    The days of one-way communication are over, customers want to engage in meaningful dialogue, especially when something goes wrong. However, waiting until something goes wrong can often be too late.

    Creating regular opportunities to seek feedback from your customers on their experience will enable your business to take action.

    From surveys to complaint forms, the single most important step in remediating customer challenges is to identify the causes and to understand whether they are one-off issues affecting this customer alone or a recurring issue in your process that warrants further investigation.

    This process will also give you insight into what you are doing well, ideas for improvements over time and potentially additional revenue opportunities. Why wait until it's an issue? Let's make space to talk to our customers.

    #2: Prioritise clear and effective communications with customers

    For many people change is difficult in general, that remains true when it comes to switching to a new energy supplier, changing your phone contract, or understanding price increase notices. It is why there are so many people in the UK that are on the standard variable tariff, the most expensive one.

    When choosing a new supplier, for example, there can be an overwhelming amount of information to process, and if this information is unclear or open to interpretation it can cause more stress and anguish on a customer. This in turn could lead to complaints or the customer switching provider.

    Utility companies can benefit immensely from simply focusing on making the communication of their services, billing structure clear-cut and easy to understand. By keeping communications between your company and the customer simple and easy, your customers will be able to digest the information and understand what they are agreeing to at each stage of your process.

    #3: Consistent and Impactful training for your salespeople

    Any employee who interacts with your customer is acting on your business's behalf. We have all seen the impact of rogue rep behaviour on other businesses and the utility industry as a whole. This doesn't need to happen in your business though, creating the right processes and the right environment will enable you to mitigate the risk. One of the most important ways you can deliver for your potential customers is by creating consistent and impactful training for your salespeople.

    From communication your brand value and what's important (is sales the only thing that matters or is the customer experience, data quality or market intelligence as important?), to specific training relating to interacting with priority or vulnerable people, your sales tactics - solid training is at the heart of your success.

     

    How you deliver that training can impact how well that knowledge is retained and applied.

    There have been numerous research efforts to chart the speed at which newly learned skills and information gained during a training session are retained or lost. Sometimes called the “forgetting curve,” the loss of ability to recall new information over time after a training session is almost inevitable. While the amount of information lost to an individual may vary based on a breathtaking number of factors, statistics cited by specialist organisations such as Festo-Didactic state that as much as 77% of information from a single training session is lost after just six days.

    So, is training pointless? No, but it does need to be done right in order to ensure the retention of information. The problem with many training programmes is that they consist of a single seminar where the employees are trying to retain every piece of information that they need at once, typically without any chance to practice the knowledge gained. The result is that each employee tends to remember a few tidbits of information from the training session that they found poignant and little else.

    One way that your company can improve the retention of information from a training session is to have a digital learning solution in place on the agent’s device, with regular just-in-time learning before application, and regular assessments to ensure they are 'fit to sell'. This provides employees with the chance to review smaller, more digestible chunks of information and test their knowledge on specific portions of the training. By offering continuous learning opportunities within their workflow, you can significantly improve how well employees remember their training.

    Effective training can be the single most important way in which your company prevents customer complaints, as trained, knowledgeable sales staff are much less likely to miscommunicate services and frustrate customers.

     

    How happy are you with your customer engagements in the sales process and beyond?

    If you think there is room for improvement we would love to hear from you.


    Best Practice Digital Sales Solutions

    How much of your team’s time is simply wasted?

    If you’re still clinging to old-style sales techniques, I’m going to guess that your sales agents spent a lot of their valuable time waiting around.

    Waiting for the company to give them the resources or marketing materials they need. Waiting for their training to get signed off. Waiting for leads. Waiting for background checks to clear. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

    And as you no doubt know, waiting around and wasting time is very bad news for your team’s levels of energy and enthusiasm. In fact, it’s a massive wet blanket when it comes to motivation.

    Great sales people are go-getters. For them, sales is a verb. They’re impatient. They need to act.

    So let them.

     

    If you want to harness, rather than hinder, the potential of your top performing sales people, you’re going to have to find digital sales solutions that encourage and accommodate as much productive selling time as you possibly can. And for that, you’ll need top technology that streamlines the process, speeds up lead distribution, cuts down admin and gives new starters the chance to hit the ground running.

    That means ditching the cumbersome paper trails and the endless manual data entry and switching to a future-proofed digital data capture and sales fulfilment platform. One that automated those niggling little tasks that so easy swallow up your team’s time, helping them to help you make money.

    Agents can access digital training resources and continuous learning options to make sure their skills and knowledge are refreshed and honed, right before they go sell. They can access digital copies of handbooks and other resources through their mobile devices or PDAs, meaning that marketing can get new messaging out to them in the blink of an eye and you can be sure they have the latest sales information for frequently changing products or updates to regulations.

    Back in HQ, you can track the progress of staff out in the field or working from home, analysing what’s working and where, allocating leads or redirecting your team in a fast, responsive style that maximises their time, improves their success rate and keeps them running on gas. If there are challenges in your sales process, you can rectify the challenge in real-time and increase your chances of success.

    Even better, digital sales solutions that are based in Business Process Automation actually help to improve the accuracy of data captured during a sale.

    That’s because these platforms make it far easier to comply with regulations and smooth things out along the entire fulfilment chain. Straightforward, structured digital systems mean that that sales agents are discouraged (or even prevented) from cutting corners, reducing the risk of human errors and lost sales later on.

    And, because the solution can enable validations, take payment details and complete the entire process on the spot, sales staff have a sense of completion. They know everything’s gone through ok – they know that the sale, and their commission is already in the bag. And they can head out to their next lead feeling fired up and hungry for the next triumph.

    All of which keeps your sales staff happy and working at their best, while reinforcing your reputation as a top-drawer, highly trusted leader that everyone wants to learn from.

    As well, of course, as raising your standing in the company as a whole – not just within the team you run. And that can’t hurt, now, can it?

    Want more tips on capitalising on your sales teams killer instincts? Contact our team today


    Effective territory management is more than basic geography

    Historically sales territories have existed as a way to simplify the division of accounts between your sales team. Geographic boundaries and sales team availability is used to establish which accounts belong to which account manager. It is then down to the territory manager to service the accounts and leads in their patch.

    The problem with traditional territory management is that it treats all customers (and leads) equally. Your field sales reps will typically plan their weekly/monthly/annual visits, cycling through customers site visits in the same way indefinitely. Every contact is afforded roughly the same level of facetime.

    In an ideal world, this equality would be fine. But the truth is that some clients spend more than others, making them worth more to your business. It is these clients that should be receiving greater attention from your sales reps.

     

    Redefining your territories

    Taking your sales strategy forward, it may help to stop thinking of territories in terms of physical geography. Instead, you can create territories around various different factors including:

    • Product range or tariff
    • Account type
    • Local competition
    • Personas – the type of people being targeted in your field sales campaigns

    Even this basic change of definition opens new sales opportunities. You are now able to reallocate leads and accounts to sales reps in new, more effective ways:

    • Product experts can manage specific accounts based on the utility service they use.
      • You can split the sales team between corporate and consumer accounts, allowing reps to specialise in one or the other.
    • You can reallocate additional field sales reps to target regions where your competition is particularly strong or weak.
    • Your sales team can tailor their strategy and pitches according to an allocated persona.

     

    Targeting customers

    From a business account perspective, you may already have divided your territory based on account value – after all, those clients who spend more warrant more of your resources and time. But the truth is that some accounts will have a secondary value which is sometimes quite significant.

    In the age of social business, you may find that some of your low-value accounts are actually very good at referring their own contacts. So the value of their contract may be low, but the referral business they bring in more than compensates.

    This realisation is another important motivator for changing territories and account allocation. These clients will need similar nurturing and encouragement as you would provide your highest-value accounts. Losing these high secondary value clients could have a serious effect on your sales.

    This is still relevant in a domestic/retail setting where the size of accounts can still be a factor, especially considering the age of smart where increasing devices further embed your products through your customer’s homes. In the majority of accounts though you are playing for the longevity of the relationship, who is more likely to stay with you and why. Do you understand why they are signing up with you? Is it price alone or price and service, and how do you continue to add value in the long term to keep them a customer? Capturing and acting on relevant data can help give you an edge over your competitors.

     

    Get flexible

    Changing the way you define and manage territories is not a one-off task, however. Your customers’ needs and preferences will change frequently, as will market conditions. And where territories are defined by any factor other than geography, they too will need to be updated to reflect the changes.

    In the data-driven sales environment, this is more complicated than changing a few lines on a map. The factors used to segment advanced territories are not so immediately obvious.

    The sales operations manager needs a sales platform that allows them to manage every aspect of their sales strategy and supporting data quickly and efficiently. This flexibility allows you to change strategy whenever required to maximise conversions and sales.

     

    The value in your database

    No matter the channel, feeding the sales engine is a constant battle for sales leaders, do you have enough quality leads, how can you improve your conversion rate, are there more opportunities for improvement? With the complexity of multiple channels, customer and product types sitting alongside multiple systems and processes there is the potential to leave opportunities on the table.

    It’s therefore key to have a strategy and a digital sales solution that will enable you to capture and centralise pertinent sales data including; leads from any channel, intelligence about product performance per channel and area, alongside other data that is relevant you your business e.g. do people in the southwest sign up more often when the weather is rainy.

    When you have insight that can be actioned, you can utilise more value from your database, leads can be nurtured until ready and delivered to the relevant channel at the appropriate time, improvements can be made your sales processes if you understand where people get stuck, you can resource your territory appropriately based on performance, and monitor the results in real-time through your sales dashboards. Each door knock will in turn deliver more value if managed correctly.

     

    Digital Sales Solution

    PSI has been delivering tailored solutions to energy and telecommunications providers since 2004. Our robust Fusion platform can manage the full matrix of your sales engine, from how you sell, e.g.; field sales, telesales, web sales, channel partners, 3rd party sales, to what you sell and to who. We make it easy for your customers to switch, for your team to deliver, and for your business to gain intelligence and maximise sales.

    If you want to see the solution in action, schedule a 30 min Demo with our specialists.


    How to Build a Successful Field Sales Team

    In order to cut through today’s digital noise, energy and telco sales reps are hitting the streets and knocking on doors. Known to elevate your brand, door-to-door sales adds the human touch that other sales methodologies lack. When you put your sales reps directly in front of a prospect, they’re able to build and strengthen relationships, provide a higher level of education on your products and services, lessen miscommunication, and create the type of trust and credibility that promotes customer loyalty. But getting your sales reps field ready can be a challenge.

    As you know only too well, sales is a demanding and many times thankless job and it’s up to you to set your field sales reps up for success. The process starts the moment you hire a new field sales rep and the training you provide. It doesn’t, however, end there. Keeping your reps engaged over the long term, avoiding sales code of conduct breaches, burnout, and boredom, while improving your profitability can be a slippery slope. That is why you need a strategy that will take the guesswork out of the equation. Read on to learn how you can build a successful field sales team and grow your business simultaneously.

     

    Strategies That Will Have Your Field Reps Working at Peak Performance 

    Many sales organisations view sales as a game of numbers. While reaching sales quotas is essential to the financial health of your business, it needs to be part of the company’s overall strategy. For example, let’s assume that your energy company’s field reps are paid strictly on a commission basis and are given virtually unattainable quarterly quota goals. While the numbers may add up and you’re achieving revenue projections, where does this leave your reps? To reach their goals, there is the potential that they may resort to cold knocking on ineligible doors, go off script to convince customers to switch providers, or even use fake phone numbers, bank account details, and phoney or duplicate addresses to create a sale. When a rep goes rogue, it not only chips away at your brand’s reputation but can result in regulatory fines.

    Training needs to be an essential component of your overarching strategy. As explained by Chron, savvy business leaders understand the relationship between training and employee performance. However, to get the optimal results from your training and continuous learning initiatives, you’ll need to create measurable metrics. To start this process perform pre- and post-training evaluations, as well as set key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be used to track your field reps performance over the long term. Be sure that the KPIs you decide on align with your brand values and expectations. It’s also important that, at least at the beginning, you don’t set the bar too high. Your measurable metrics need to be attainable, yet provide room for stretch objectives.

    When you expect too little from your field sales reps or provide little to no guidance, you run the risk that your reps will not only go rogue but become bored with their daily routine. On the opposite end of the spectrum, unattainable expectations can cause reps to quickly burn out. This often results in high field sales rep turnover, which ultimately means a revolving door of new hires and the ongoing costs of recruiting and training. To get your reps working at peak performance, the pressure you put on them needs to range between moderate and high.

    In an ideal world, field sales reps would be naturally motivated to always work at peak performance. However, the very nature of field sales lends itself to an unpredictable work environment. If you’re like your counterparts, you’re constantly searching for ways to keep your reps motivated. A study by Harvard Business Review revealed that increased productivity and higher performance can be attained when workers are motivated by the interest, enjoyment, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself.

    As the face of your business, field sales reps should be provided with the kind of work environment that will foster their ability to do what they love and deliver the kind of value that provides prospects and customers with the level of service they expect, while boosting their earning potential. Although many businesses rely solely on extrinsic motivators such as compensation, rewards, and recognition, the blending of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators have been proven to foster more engaged, loyal and productive field sales reps.

     

    Crush the Competition by Taking Field Sales to the Next Level

    As you can see, poorly trained field sales reps or mismanaged expectations have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve. Reps that take a genuine interest in their customers and achievements are your ticket to profitability. However, their success relies on you. Be sure your reps have everything they need to hit the road running, including having intimate knowledge of the products they are selling, energy or telco industry expertise, the tools to build customer rapport, the knowledge to accurately answer customer questions, and the skills to close the deal.

    Your field reps are the face of your company to every prospect they meet. And as such you need them to represent the company in the most positive way possible. Whether you’re outsourcing your field sales efforts or have an internal team, you need to mitigate risks by planning ahead. And that starts with setting your field sales reps up for success!

    As the leading sales technology partner for energy and telco providers, PSI has been helping more than 20,000 field reps positively represent the companies they work for. With more than 12 years of industry expertise, we have a unique understanding of the challenges individual reps, teams, and the business in general face when selling energy and telco services door-to-door. Our industry-specific platform and team of specialists are helping companies, like yours, focus on providing the tools reps need to operate at peak performance.

     

    View our most recent case study to see how we helped SSE Airtricity set their field sales reps up for continued success.