1995, 2030 and the next step for fibre – PSI joins ISPA


“Organisations such as PSI can be a vital tool to ensure that this much needed (fibre broadband) take-up happens in a positive timescale,” says Krystian. “Services that can drive customer acquisition and revenue growth, like PSI, can help the UK fibre networks, especially as many of them are now shifting their primary focus from FTTP deployment.”

Krystian Heald, Head of Partnerships, ISPA

It’s 1995. The internet has been commercially alive and kicking for a matter of months. Social media and e-commerce as we know it is a decade away – barely a twinkle in the eyes of entrepreneurs. Here ISPA, The Internet Service Providers Association, was founded, ready to steer a course to the new millennium.

The internet was a new market, and someone needed to bring together the UK industry to develop standards and self regulation. As a voice to the UK government, and a hub for the sector’s most pertinent conversations, ISPA was a vital part of creating the connected UK we know today – and it’ll be a vital part of its future.

PSI has just become a member of ISPA, and to mark the occasion we spoke with Krystian Heald, Head of Partnerships at ISPA. Here he gives us his thoughts on why ISPA matters and where connectivity in the UK is going next.

Fibre: a once in a lifetime transformation

In recent years, ISPA has been focused on uniting the UK’s efforts to create a fibre-based future.

“The UK internet sector is undergoing a once in a lifetime transformation through nationwide deployment of Fibre to the Premises (FTTP),” says Krystian. “Our members are investing more than £30bn of mostly private funding to upgrade the UK, with nearly two-thirds of the UK now able to access full fibre broadband and 85% gigabit capable speeds.”

Even though we face a difficult economic landscape where costs of capital are on the rise, the pace of change has been go, go, go.

“This investment has seen both established market brands and a burgeoning altnet community rapidly and successfully deploying these improved fibre services to over 60% of the UK,” says Krystian. “The final 40% is expected to be complete by 2030 – well within schedule.“

“As a result, it is fair to say that industry’s drive to deploy FTTP is the one of the UKs largest successful major infrastructure projects.”

The next phase for the UK’s infrastructure

The infrastructure deployment of FTTP has not been without challenges, however. The final 40% of the fibre-to-the-premises infrastructure requires extensive funding, and at the same time the sector needs to stimulate demand to ensure commercial sustainability – and this is reflected in the new priorities of investors.

“Increasingly, investor expectations have begun to look beyond the deployment of fibre networks towards take-up and ROI,” says Krystian. “This is key for both the commercial viability of the sector and UK society as we look to maintain our status as a leading digital nation.”

The solution to take-up will be multifaceted. “At ISPA, we want to ensure that the UK capitalises on fast and reliable connectivity,” says Krystian. “From ensuring users are equipped with the right digital skills to improve digital inclusion to helping consumers understand the value of gigabit broadband.”

In part this will depend on brands and sales reps educating buyers – and in order to be trusted, they will need the brand reputation to back it up.

How PSI are playing a role

So why has PSI joined ISPA’s efforts? Well, since 2010, our sales software has been enabling the take up of enhanced connectivity and fibre in both rural and urban areas.

“Organisations such as PSI can be a vital tool to ensure that this much needed take-up happens in a positive timescale,” says Krystian. “Services that can drive customer acquisition and revenue growth, like PSI, can help the UK fibre networks, especially as many of them are now shifting their primary focus from FTTP deployment.”

Multichannel sales can play a role here, but perhaps even more important is ethical door-to-door sales, which we’ve been working to make the new normal in the UK and Ireland. This is an essential foundation for healthy brand reputation and consumer trust – and these are vital to ensure the conversations reps have with customers about FTTP are not tinged with disbelief or scepticism.

“The industry adopts a wide array of strategies to successfully acquire customers, ranging from digital marketing through to door to door sales – all perfectly viable routes to market,” says Krystian. “However, as we have seen over the past 12 months, some of these tactics have received some negative commentary in the press. As a sector we need to ensure that these routes to market are undertaken in an ethical manner.”

In 1995, ISPA was founded. In 2030, fibre connectivity will exist across the UK. Which organisations succeed the most commercially, however, is still yet to be decided over the next five years. Our approach to sales, along with our sales software, will play a key part in this.

“PSI’s intent to support the UK ISP sector is signified by them becoming an ISPA Partner in 2024,” says Krystian. “We look forward to working with them over the next 12 months.”

For more insights on the take up of fibre-to-the-premises, see our articles on the five industry trends affecting telcos and their sales outcomes or how to launch effective sales campaigns in the field.

How to keep selling: Top 10 features you should expect from field sales software

Sometimes you don’t need your sales technology to have superpowers. You might not need a multichannel sales system, for instance. Or you might not need your sales software to be end-to-end, wrapping up everything from payments to installation on first contact. Not yet, anyway.

But what’s the minimum you need to ‘get the job done’ in your industry? What should you expect from all sales software, regardless of what your targets and growth plans are?

Here’s a checklist of the key features you’ll need. Compare it against the technology you’re using or planning to buy, and see whether it’s the right fit for your use case.


1. Offline capabilities 

At PSI we’ve seen our fair share of self-built field sales tools, and while a few are brilliantly constructed, it's common that the software only functions online. It’s no wonder that so many reps and sales managers are banging their heads against a wall, simply trying to get their software to function.

One company recently told us their field reps were facing lag issues during critical sales conversations with prospects, sometimes standing at their door for several  minutes while they waited for their software to buffer. And if they went into a poor signal area, they’d sometimes not even know which addresses they were knocking on.

Particularly since rural areas are such crucial locations for many tenders and bids in telco, this is an unaffordable situation. For instance, according to a report on levelling up the East of England, full gigabit-capable broadband is targeted for 2030, but the same region is not expected to achieve full 4G coverage in the same time frame unless there’s intervention. (Is there a timeframe we can include for 4g coverage)

Full fibre is coverage includes 37% of the UK, but to reach many of the remaining potential customers, we’ll need to go where there’s no signal. And without offline capabilities in your sales software, broken internet connections will lead to broken sales.<link to blog 01, batch 05>.


2. Seamless for sales representatives 

In this age of intuitive UX design, there really is no excuse for software that slows reps down instead of speeding them up. Despite that, we’ve come across a number of telco companies that have run into this exact issue.

They might have capacity issues for the server, be slow and glitchy for reps, or simply be obtuse to pick up and learn to use. In isolation these issues might only have a small impact, but when they affect multiple reps over multiple days and multiple sales opportunities, they slow you down and increase pressure on your reps.

“Salespeople will get demotivated if they’re pressing confirm on an order and it’s not going through,” says Stu Holliday, Chief Commercial Officer for ZYBRE. “You’ll see their body language change, they may feel under more pressure to complete sales and therefore start pushing harder than they should for a new order.”


3. Easy and quick setup

The more sophisticated your sales solution, the more time it might take to set up – to an extent. There’s a limit on how difficult it should be, though, even if there’s a number of complex integrations needed on the back end. Crucially, in time it should integrate with your existing software and systems.

In telco, providers often need to move fast to make the most of opportunities, so you want software you can roll out in days or weeks or, without compromising on the other points on this checklist.


4. Support on hand

This one’s simple. Your sales teams can’t afford downtime, so you’ll want to be able to contact software support at all times during UK rep working hours. This keeps your sales people making sales, winning commissions, and generally doing what they do best.


5. Capacity to scale

Your organisation might want a simpler solution for a single sales channel while a project is in its early days. But you don’t want to choose a solution that confines you to that simplicity when you need more advanced features in the next few years. That’s a recipe for lost time and lost customer data.

You’ll want a solution that can evolve with your organisation as your needs grow. That might mean going multichannel once you want to coordinate your field, tele and web sales, or it might mean adding end-to-end sales capabilities into your solution.


6. Fit for your industry

Is the software designed with the complexities of the telco industry in mind, or was it built for field sales teams across all sectors? If it’s the latter, it might not be able to ensure you uphold industry-specific regulatory standards (which are often evolving) or provide the right level of data security.


7. Ensures best practice

Your sales software needs to give you control of your sales processes – all while keeping data siloed for individual reps and teams. That way you can track sales performance, geo-stamp sales, and ensure effective territory management.

Controlling your processes won’t just ensure you avoid fines for mis-selling, it will also give you a competitive advantage. Better quality interactions with potential customers means fewer broken sales and better brand reputation.

8. Real time data reporting

Your sales reps need to have up-to-the-minute field data to hand, as do your onboarding and customer service reps. If there’s a delay between data capture and that data being available to your teams, that gap creates an opportunity for inefficiency, poor customer relationships and broken sales.


9. Puts your data to work across the sales cycle

Capturing data is the first step. Acting on it is the next. Data is vital to optimising your sales and providing the best customer experience – but only if it’s put to use. You want your data to make your territory management smarter, put the information your sales managers need in the palm of their hand, and connect to the rest of your sales stack to inform your entire sales cycle.


10. Automates as much of your sales process as possible

Automation is the difference between efficiency and inefficiency. Either your sales teams are making the most of their time or they’re waiting on manual tasks – customer emails, verification of payment details, the sending of terms and conditions – to be completed somewhere else in the chain.

Even though every minute counts in sales, we hear that there’s surprisingly little automation in some sales software. According to HubSpot, sales teams only use 34% of their time to talk to prospects, and they spend the rest on tasks that could be automated. So make sure your sales software creates a different trend for your teams.

Does your current system meet these ten requirements? If not, it’s time to ask whether you should build, buy or customise new sales software for your organisation. If you’d like to learn more about PSI’s sales platform, check out the explainer video on our homepage or book a demo.