Grow, compete, retain: why energy companies need to get ready to sell again soon

Grow, compete, retain: why energy companies need to get ready to sell again soon

Across the UK and Europe, consumers are looking forward to a time when they’ll be able to pay less for their energy usage. And with the wholesale price of gas falling to its lowest in almost two years, that time may soon be here.

For the energy sector, that means a chance to send their sales agents back out into the field and compete for new customers once again. But to take advantage of this opportunity to grow – not to mention to keep hold of their current customer base – their sales teams will need to be well ahead of the curve, and have the right tools and clarity to move intelligently when the time comes.

 

Your customers are waiting for prices to fall

In February the wholesale price of natural gas fell below €50 per megawatt hour. That’s a significant drop from its peak of €320 per megawatt hour in August 2022, and the lowest the energy sector has seen since September 2021.

In response to that, Ofgem in the UK has begun dropping its energy price cap. For the second quarter of 2023 it went down from £4,279 to £3,280, and it’s expected to continue falling to £1,966 by the end of the year.

But while wholesale prices are falling for energy providers, the benefit of that is still yet to trickle down to the consumer. Due to their fixed price contracts, customers are locked into paying the higher prices they’d signed up at.

When their contracts end, those consumers will be looking to switch to whoever can supply them for less – and that opens up a significant opportunity for energy providers who are ready to get out and sell again.

 

The advantage will go to the agile

In 2020, the year before the current energy crisis began, almost 6m customers in the UK alone changed their energy provider. When prices are low and competition is high, there is a large appetite among consumers to capitalise on better deals and more innovative tariffs by shopping around.

If the price of energy falls again in 2023 and the market opens back up, that appetite may well return. Energy usage has been one of the most daunting household expenses for many consumers over the last two years, with some being forced to choose between paying for heating or paying for food. If there is a chance for them to save hundreds on their next bill just by switching providers, they will be open to it.

The first providers to respond to that will be at an advantage, but they will need to be ready to move fast. No one wants to be out on doorsteps trying to sell now because they aren’t going to win new customers while prices are still high. But they still need to be proactive, not reactive, and start planning how they’re going to deploy their next sales campaign ahead of time.

That will mean thinking tactically about where to focus resources, drawing intelligent data insights on where gains can be made, and knowing how to maximise the productivity of your entire sales process. It will also mean asking yourself if you’ve got the right tools to move with that level of speed and precision – and if not, what do you need to get there?

 

Think smarter on customer retention

When it’s time to sell again, one of the biggest challenges for the energy sector will be that a competitive market won’t just mean an opportunity to grow your market share. If everyone else is out on doorsteps offering lower prices, there’s a risk that you could lose as many existing customers as you gain.

If you have the right sales system in place for customer acquisition, it’s easy to turn that same insight and tactical approach towards retention. The PSI system, for instance, can draw on the data you’ve already gathered, so all your current customer information is already at your fingertips – and that gives you a clear advantage over your rivals.

Your sales team will know exactly when your current customers’ contracts are ending and what kind of deal they were on before. That means you can get started on customer engagement before your competitors have had a chance to get their boots on. And with their details already in the PSI system, their retention form can be populated automatically – giving your customers an effortless, positive experience, and your sales reps a better chance to close the deal quickly.

With sales software that gives clarity and insight on the state of your customers, you can think intelligently about how to engage them long before your reps arrive at their door. To learn more, check out our thoughts on effectively returning your sales agents to the field.


One Touch Switch: embracing new telco rules for the good of your customers

One Touch Switch: embracing new telco rules for the good of your customers

This year is one of major change for telcos. From upgrading critical infrastructure to implementing One Touch Switching, there is a wave of new regulations, obligations and security frameworks that UK telecoms providers will need to be ready to embrace.

Navigating those changes can be difficult. But when the new regulations are so focused on protecting consumers and giving them more power to choose the best available deals, there’s an opportunity for telcos to turn legislation into a competitive sales advantage.

 

Safer networks, stronger service

For the UK telecoms sector, there are two major pieces of legislation dominating the horizon in 2023 – the Telecommunications (Security) Act and the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC). And while both of them are broad frameworks touching on all areas of the telecoms industry, there are two significant prongs to this new wave of regulation.

The first is aimed at upgrading and modernising telco infrastructure, and promoting investment in that area. But that doesn’t just mean updating a telecoms network’s capabilities – it also means making the infrastructure more robust.

Both the EECC and the Telecommunications (Security) Act have obligations for service providers to strengthen their network against cyber threats and to notify the government of any breaches. The Telecommunications Security Act goes even further, requiring telecom companies to only work with trusted vendors and suppliers who meet stringent security criteria laid out by the UK government.

That focus on network security feeds into the second part of the legislation – to better protect consumers and ensure they get the highest quality of service. The European Electronic Communications Code in particular is designed to give consumers more freedom and power in choosing a telco provider, by encouraging competition and introducing new rules on billing and contract length.

With consumers in the spotlight, meeting these obligations is as much a matter for a telco’s sales and operations teams as for their technical side. But if they’re not equipped with the right tools, they can risk not being able to deliver the kind of customer service that’s required.

 

One Touch Switch

Legislation isn’t all that’s putting consumer empowerment in an ever greater spotlight. There’s also Ofcom’s plans for One Touch Switch, to enable customers to change to a new broadband provider without having to speak to their current provider first. Although the adoption has faced delays and there has been confusion on what exactly is required, this is still something telecom companies will have to bring into their sales process soon.

In a nutshell, One Touch Switch is about making it easier for consumers to change their broadband supplier. But it’s not just about creating less admin in the switching process – it’s also about giving people more options to choose from in the first place.

Every telco provider has an obligation to match their broadband service to what else is on offer, in terms of speed, pricing and contract length. The idea is that sales reps can show consumers that they’re offering the best package out there – not just on price but on the quality of the service too – and that customers can make an informed choice on whether to stay or switch.

Ultimately, it’s about extending more freedom of choice to broadband customers. And while that’s being driven from a regulatory perspective, internet service providers who embrace that into their sales process can make it a core part of their brand.

For example, our Touchstone sales platform makes it easy to give customers a grace period to review their offer before signing the contract. That extra time can help them to a) be more confident in their decision, and b) trust that a sales pitch isn’t pressuring them to switch.

 

Look after your brand by looking after your customers

While navigating new restrictions and regulations can be a challenge, it also presents an opportunity for telecoms operators to build their brand. When so much of telco sales depends on trust, doubling down on looking after consumers doesn’t just satisfy legislation – it also builds a competitive advantage.

For example, take the pre-documentation that has to be sent during a sale. Once your sales rep has agreed a sale with a customer, they need to send all of that over before any contract is signed. With PSI Fusion they can do that instantly, and send it directly to the customer’s device. They can still have a grace period to review the documents, but that isn’t prolonged any further than it has to be.

The sooner those documents arrive, the better the experience for the customer. They can focus on going over the offer in their own time rather than wondering when everything will arrive. Most importantly, they’ll feel reassured that you’re honouring your obligations to look after consumers and deliver the best possible service.

With such a unique framework of regulations governing the telco world, your sales solution needs to be one that takes that into account. A general sales tool might do everything necessary for another industry or jurisdiction, but it won’t be set up for the nuances of meeting telco legislation and providing customers with the frictionless experience they’re looking for.

To learn more, check out our thoughts on boosting your customer experience with territory management or take a look at our End-to-End Sales or Multichannel Sales solutions.


Tactics, insight and impact for energy companies: how to launch effective sales campaigns in the field 

The last few years haven’t been easy on the energy sector. As energy bills increase, many consumers find it hard to trust large energy companies who seem to profit from putting up their prices. Meanwhile, the rise in wholesale supply costs has left several of the UK’s newer, smaller providers stretched to or even beyond capacity. 

Against that backdrop, field sales campaigns need to work harder than ever. Consumers need more than lower prices – they need to know they can trust a potential new provider, and understand what sets them apart from everyone else on the market. 

First, ask what your potential customers are thinking  

Before you start sending sales agents out to people’s doors, there are some fundamental questions you need to answer. What problem are you trying to solve, and for whom? How can you help your potential customers to understand the value of your service? And what resources do your reps need in order to get that message across?

When it comes to energy, the problem is fairly straightforward – your customers need reliable, affordable electricity. The questions they have are less likely to be about what they’re buying and more about your company in particular. 

Consumers often see switching energy providers as a hassle, so they need to know why you are different from their incumbent. That’s not just a question of cost – it’s also about trust.

People have seen their bills shoot up in recent years – some are even choosing between heating their home and buying food – and they need to know what makes one energy company different from another. Imagine what questions they will have, and work out how to arm your reps to put any concerns to rest. 

Take a tactical approach to your sales territory 

To roll out an effective sales campaign, you need to be tactical about where you’re sending your field sales reps and what outcomes you need them to achieve.

The difficulty for energy companies is that the market is very mature. When everybody already has a supplier and there are no new products or innovations to sway them, a tactical approach often means testing the waters on whether it’s a good time to sell, focusing on building trust or acquiring certain groups of customers. 

Bringing that laser focus requires effective territory management. That means more than gathering addresses and assigning them to sales rep routes. It’s about getting the most out of your campaign tools to optimise the routes in an area, deploy reps efficiently and get reports on results as they happen.

PSI’s Territory Management solution can help here. It allows you to approach an area tactically by creating unique routes for each agent and ensuring no routes are overworked. 

Outcomes are reported in real time, giving you the insight you need to react quickly to what’s going on in your sales territory. And there’s no limit to the amount of data you can upload and manage at one time, so you won’t be held back even when handling multiple campaigns. 

Keep one eye on the bigger picture 

With any sales campaign, there are two key areas to focus on – getting the most productivity out of your sales team, and delivering the best possible customer experience. And if you’re striking out into new areas, you need to ask whether the tools you’re using are still capable of doing that as your customer base grows.

A common problem for growing suppliers is that when they get near or reach enterprise size, they find they’ve outgrown the systems they were using before. The tech isn’t able to keep up with where the company is going, and some customers inevitably fall through the cracks. 

Field sales might be your focus at your current stage, and you have a solution in place to cover that. But if that solution can’t also handle multichannel sales when you need it, it’s going to fall short. But if your partner is as used to working with big players as they are with new entrants, they will be able to follow you on the scaling journey. 

Even if reaching that size isn’t on the horizon right now, you need to be acting bigger than you might be right now. Your ambition will always be to build a larger customer base, and mergers, acquisitions and amalgamations are a fact of life for the sector. Companies that aren’t thinking of that long term vision can quickly get caught out. 

The PSI platform can be that reliable partner, whether you’re at the field sales stage or growing towards multi-channel. Our intuitive software puts everything you need to quickly create and launch campaigns at your fingertips. Real time reporting lets you monitor your lead capture and market penetration as it happens, and the data insights from that help shape the targets and direction of your next campaign. 

There is a long game you can play here. If you start out with sales and territory management tools that can easily scale as you do, you can continue to roll out each sales campaign as effectively as the last. To learn more, check out our thoughts on boosting your customer experience with territory management or take a look at our Territory Management solution.


Tactics, insight and impact for Telcos: how to launch effective sales campaigns in the field 

The telco industry is one that doesn’t stand still. As the infrastructure evolves and networks grow more capable every day, ISPs are constantly developing more products and rolling out to new sales territories.

The difficulty for their field sales teams is that so much change can be dizzying for consumers. When a sales rep turns up at the door, customers often don’t know what they already have or what else is on offer, and getting their interest can be the first and biggest hurdle.

An effective campaign has to go further than price and download speeds. It needs to help guide customers through the options available, and use the data at hand to make a tactical impact fast. 

First, ask what your potential customers are thinking  

Before you start sending sales agents out to people’s doors, there are some fundamental questions you need to answer. What problem are you trying to solve, and for whom? How can you help your potential customers to understand the value of your service? And what resources do your reps need in order to get that message across?

For ISPs, it’s easy for that value to get lost beneath industry jargon<link to Gigabit broadband blog>. You can’t take for granted that the people you’re selling to will know the difference between fibre-to-the-cabinet and fibre-to-the-premises, for example, or that they see a need for full-fibre in their daily lives. 

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes – imagine what questions they will have and what education they’ll need from your reps. From there you can work out how best to arm your reps to explain the options clearly and accurately.

Take a tactical approach to your sales territory 

To roll out an effective sales campaign, you need to be tactical about where you’re sending your field sales reps and what outcomes you need them to achieve.

In the telco space, that tactical approach is a daily fact of life. The nature of constantly evolving technology and capabilities makes for a dynamic market. When new properties are ready for service, telcos need to react fast to what’s available, getting pre-marketing and sales teams in the area first to get ahead of the game.

But to get there first, your data has to be up to date. You need a system that takes in the latest address data so that you can create a tactical campaign off the back of it. 

Bringing that laser focus requires effective territory management. That means more than gathering addresses and assigning them to sales rep routes. It’s about getting the most out of your campaign tools to optimise the routes in an area, deploy reps efficiently and get reports on results as they happen.

PSI’s Territory Management solution can help here. It allows you to approach an area tactically by creating unique routes for each agent and ensuring no routes are overworked. 

Outcomes are reported in real time, giving you the insight you need to react quickly to what’s going on in your sales territory. And there’s no limit to the amount of data you can upload and manage at one time, so you won’t be held back even when handling multiple campaigns. 

Keep one eye on the bigger picture 

With any sales campaign, there are two key areas to focus on – getting the most productivity out of your sales team, and delivering the best possible customer experience. And if you’re striking out into new areas, you need to ask whether the tools you’re using are still capable of doing that as your customer base grows.

A common problem for growing suppliers is that when they get near or reach enterprise size, they find they’ve outgrown the systems they were using before. The tech isn’t able to keep up with where the company is going, and some customers inevitably fall through the cracks. 

Field sales might be your focus at your current stage, and you have a solution in place to cover that. But if that solution can’t also handle multichannel sales when you need it, it’s going to fall short. But if your partner is as used to working with big players as they are with new entrants, they will be able to follow you on the scaling journey. 

Even if reaching that size isn’t on the horizon right now, you need to be acting bigger than you might be right now. Your ambition will always be to build a larger customer base, and mergers, acquisitions and amalgamations are a fact of life for the sector. Companies that aren’t thinking of that long term vision can quickly get caught out. 

The PSI platform can be that reliable partner, whether you’re at the field sales stage or growing towards multi-channel. Our intuitive software puts everything you need to quickly create and launch campaigns at your fingertips. Real time reporting lets you monitor your lead capture and market penetration as it happens, and the data insights from that help shape the targets and direction of your next campaign. 

There is a long game you can play here. If you start out with sales and territory management tools that can easily scale as you do, you can continue to roll out each sales campaign as effectively as the last. To learn more, check out our thoughts on boosting your customer experience with territory management or take a look at our Territory Management solution.


Gigabit broadband in the UK: government targets and the opportunity for telcos

At the start of the decade, the UK government pledged to make gigabit broadband available across the country by 2025. Although this target has since been revised to 2030, Ofcom reported at the end of last year that 70% of UK households can now access gigabit broadband packages.

But despite the drive from both government and private companies to rollout the infrastructure, uptake from consumers is still slow. Part of the problem is that the gigabit initiative is still ongoing, and many households across the country aren’t aware they can upgrade yet. That’s not helped by a confusing picture of who’s responsible for the rollout, with private telcos, central government and regional authorities all involved at various stages.

But it’s not just gigabit that isn’t being fully embraced. Ofcom’s 2022 Connected Nations report also found that while 97% of UK homes can access 30Mb per second broadband, only 73% actually take it.

As more choices are put before consumers, it becomes harder for them to know which one is the best for them. Telcos have a huge part to play in helping them navigate their options – and a huge opportunity to build more loyalty and trust with their customers as a result. For new ISPs, there’s also a chance to lay down the right customer relationship from the get-go. 

 

Safety and convenience matters just as much as cost 

It’s easy to point fingers at cost or a lack of infrastructure as the reason behind slow uptake. But while those factors certainly play a part, the habits of individual consumers is just as large a barrier to overcome.

In the UK currently, 73% of broadband coverage is provided by just four companies: BT, Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk. BT alone occupies 25% of the broadband market. 

Consumers feel safe with those larger telcos. They’re established companies, with years of service and customer reviews behind them. If something does go wrong with the network, they’ve got ranks of customer support to call on and engineers to deploy. 

It’s hard for new, smaller telcos to compete against that. Even if the service they’re offering is thirty times faster, consumers still see switching to a less-established provider as a risk. Will they be able to deliver the promised speeds? If there’s a problem, how long will it take to resolve it? Are new ISPs less likely to stick around? 

But more than that, consumers rarely want to think too much about their broadband provider. Shopping around for new deals is confusing and time consuming. Unless their bill shoots up or there’s something egregiously wrong with their current package, they’re unlikely to browse around at who else is on the market. 

Effective field sales campaigns can be a powerful opportunity for newer ISPs to overcome those challenges. If there’s a perception of risk in switching to a new provider, field sales reps can listen to those concerns and address them directly. And most importantly, they can engage with potential customers about the options available to them. 

Do consumers even know what’s available? 

In 2022, internet service provider Zen found that 32% of UK adults said they couldn’t define what full fibre broadband means. When those that said they knew what full fibre meant were presented with possible definitions, only a third could actually identify the correct one.

When consumers weigh up their broadband options, they’re met with an array of jargon. Both Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) are offered up as fibre broadband, despite FTTC still using slower, less reliable copper wire for part of the connection. Terms like Superfast and Ultrafast broadband are used both as definitions for specific download speeds and marketing terms.

For many consumers, gigabit broadband is just another part of an already unclear picture. If they’re not sure what kind of connection they currently have, the prospect of upgrading it to gigabit is unlikely to have much of an impact.

We recently spoke to a BT customer who signed up to their first Wi-Fi contract in 2022. They explained that while they knew they needed Wi-Fi for their phones and TV, their knowledge about what service they were getting was limited.

“I was paying over £20/month for speeds of less than 3MB,” they said. “It was my daughter who found this out and realised we could actually get a much better full fibre service for a similar price. During initial sign up, no one took the time to explain these options, I could still be paying through the roof for bad internet!'' 

That education gap is a clear opportunity for telcos to reach out more directly to their customers. They have the expertise to decode all of the options and terminology, and it’s expertise that a large section of the market clearly needs to make more informed decisions.

For that to be truly effective however, it needs to go beyond defining things by download speeds. If they’re already uncertain what broadband they currently have, talking about megabits per second likely won’t illuminate much for them. Even if gigabit broadband is far beyond what their current package is capable of, they need to know what that means for their personal internet usage. 

 

Speed won’t matter if consumers don’t believe it 

A 2020 Censuswide survey of UK households served by the big four ISPs found that 22% rated their internet as “OK” or worse. 20% also said they felt they were overcharged for the service they received.

In theory those figures suggest that a large section of the market should be low-hanging fruit for providers offering gigabit speeds. But the problem for new or smaller telcos is that dissatisfaction with their established competitors often reflects poorly on the industry as a whole. 

A common point of distrust for consumers is signing up to a deal that promises fast broadband with speeds up to 500Mb or more per second, only for their average speed to be far lower in reality. When one of the country’s largest providers lets them down like this, it makes them question how a telco they’ve not heard of before can deliver true gigabit internet instead.

With a smaller share of the market, new telcos are also more easily harmed by poor customer experiences. If they say they can provide gigabit broadband but their online reviews say their network is patchy or their engineers didn’t show up to appointments, consumers will question whether they can really deliver on their promise.

Again, this is an opportunity for new ISPs to create a competitive advantage from their field sales. Reps do more than speak to leads and close sales. They’re the bridge between a telco’s brand and its customers, and the relationships they build on their routes will be key to winning trust. 

Building that trust isn’t easy, but it’s what consumers need to get on board with gigabit. 

To learn more about building trust with your customers, read our thoughts on using territory management to boost customer experience and brand reputation and field sales: the untapped competitive advantage. 


How to soften the blow of brain drain

When people talk about churn in the telco and energy industries, the focus is often on customers drifting away. But there’s another kind of churn that’s just as big a problem and often gets overlooked: brain drain. 

Every time talent leaves a company, it’s not just the individual who goes. It’s their years of valuable insight in the industry. Their unique understanding of their role and the territories they work in. If they’re moving to a rival, you could even lose your competitive edge. 

Although you should try to reduce brain drain where you can – especially if it’s rooted in a culture or employee engagement problem – there’s no way to stop it altogether. People will always retire, move on or seek new challenges. 

But just because churn is a fact of life, it doesn’t mean the impact has to be. If you can’t always keep talent from leaving, you can at least make it less of a hard reset for the company when they do. 

Keep control of your market insights 

Although brain drain occurs when someone leaves, it can still happen even if the talent stays within the company. For example, if a field rep team leader gets promoted or a manager steps down, and their expertise at that level isn’t replaced. 

It might also happen because you need to change your relationship with a sales agency partner. A common problem for telcos and energy companies is becoming too dependent on their sales agency, because there is a risk that all of their market knowledge and insight is held by that team. If you want to change partners, or work with a different agency in a new space, that knowledge is lost. 

One way to avoid this is to buy your own sales solution and onboard a sales agency onto it. That way you become more self-reliant and own your own sales data. The insights stay within the building, and you still know what’s going on in your market even if people leave or your agency relationship changes. 

Use your data to see where the real problem lies 

Part of keeping insights within the company is knowing what data to collect and how best to use it. 

You might have an excellent field sales team you know you can trust. They’re productive in the field, they reliably knock on every door on their route, and they respect your potential customers by not overselling or ignoring compliance. Getting to that stage wasn’t an easy task, but the result is a highly efficient and skilled team to represent your brand on people’s doorsteps. 

But if those reps move on for any reason, it’s a problem. The people that made the team so well-oiled are gone, and you can’t yet trust their replacements in the same way. If sales performance is dipping, how can you tell if it’s because the area has been saturated or your new reps aren’t knocking on the doors they say they are? 

When you’re not capturing information accurately, it creates too much grey area. Reps are able to say they tried an area to no avail, and it's impossible to diagnose why the results aren’t coming. 

But with the right data capture process in place, you can know where the problem lies and zero in on ways to make your sales team more productive. Then you’re not overly reliant on your star reps, and it’s less of a setback when those talents leave. 

Protecting your knowledge will protect your brand 

When valuable knowledge leaves, that can be just the tip of the iceberg. If a company isn’t prepared for the loss of talent, the impact of brain drain can reach much further than their specific role. 

To begin with, the cost of training replacements is a setback. But if a team’s progress and operations are regularly disrupted each time a manager leaves, that can make the rest of the team less motivated and more likely to move on as well. 

Where the impact of brain drain can be especially serious is where compliance is concerned. If only one person is keeping track of issues like rep behaviour and compliance processes, they leave behind a major hole when they go – one which regulators might look into. 

Without that compliance lead’s oversight, anyone new to your sector or sales processes might not know what to watch for and how. As a result, leads that should be removed from campaigns are left in. Reps aren’t armed correctly and risk overselling or pressuring potential customers. And when customer trust is breached, so is your brand integrity. 

But when compliance is an automated part of your sales process, you’re not reliant on individuals to uphold it. If there’s turnover in your sales team, a new team leader can slot in and the system ensures your customers don’t feel any fallout. 

If you’re thinking about customer experience and how to make your operations as smooth as possible, limiting the effects of brain drain should fall into place. To learn more, check out our thoughts on boosting your customer experience with territory management and the competitive advantage of compliance. 


The launch of Territory Management: a data-centric way to upgrade field sales performance

Field sales is about so much more than sales teams knocking on doors. It’s the entire process, from mapping out which addresses to visit, logging the outcomes of every conversation, and making sense of your data to make each campaign more impactful than the last. 

Effective territory management is a crucial gear in that machine. But while there are plenty of territory management solutions out there, often they’re either bundled in with more than your company needs right now, or too limited to take care of things like compliance as well. 

At PSI, we’re experts in sales for highly regulated industries like telco and energy and in creating software solutions that help companies get a competitive edge in the field. That same insight is now behind our latest release. 

Our new Territory Management solution is built with the same technology that powers our successful multichannel systems, but we’re keeping it laser focused on optimising every part of your field sales channel. Here’s a quick rundown of everything you can expect from it:  

Intelligent route planning to keep your reps on track 

When you’re planning routes for your field sales team to follow, efficiency is the name of the game. No one benefits from field reps overworking the same routes or knocking on doors they should be passing over.

The heart of PSI Territory Management is being able to assign and adapt routes that make sure your field sales reps are as productive as they can be. Routes can be split between different areas, regions and target customers, and assigned specifically to different reps to avoid overlapping. 

Agent management features also give each rep a GPS location. As well as giving managers more oversight to manage reps while they’re out on their routes, this also allows you to adapt routes in real time. 

Our Opti Route tool combines that location data with information about the rep’s current mode of transport to streamline where they’re going next. Not only does that help sales managers to ensure more efficient routes, it also keeps their reps more engaged by not sending them round the houses. 

Automated compliance that builds trust 

If a potential customer tells your agent they don’t want their door knocked on again, it’s vital that they’re listened to. Not just out of courtesy, but to keep on the right side of compliance. But if that response doesn’t get properly logged or someone misses the memo to take that address out of the system, it’s going to cause a problem. 

There’s more at stake here than avoiding penalties. It’s a case of showing your customers that you listen to them and will keep to your promises. If a rep shows up at a door they’ve been asked not to knock on, it erodes trust – and that kind of reputation damage can be as harmful to new telcos as a regulatory fine. On the flipside, keeping your brand reputation robust can give you a competitive advantage.

PSI’s Territory Management has automated compliance built into the system. As soon as a field sales rep logs that someone doesn’t want to be contacted, their address is automatically taken out of future sales routes. There’s no manual procedure, so no risk of human error meaning someone falls through the cracks. 

That can also be configured depending on the response given to the rep. If they say they aren’t interested at all, their address will be permanently removed from the system – if they say they might be interested when their current contract runs out, their address will be fed back into agent routes as a lead to contact in the future. 

As for address data, we know how crucial it is to keep that secure. Our software gives managers the power to silo customer address data and assign access to specific users at specific times, meaning the only people who get to see it are the ones who need to. This all makes field operations a far simpler task. 

Always know where your field teams are needed most 

Brilliant sales reps are obviously key to the success of a field sales campaign. But without the right direction and planning, even the best will leave opportunities on the table. 

Our territory management software gathers and reports data insights that help you make sure that those sales opportunities aren’t getting missed. From knowing if reps are genuinely knocking on the doors they say they are to tracking the outcomes of each address, that data lets you pinpoint where your best potential leads are and what’s happening with them. 

Penetration reports show how many doors in each campaign were knocked on, how many conversations were had and where those potential customers are in their journey. Whatever data the software is set up to capture is tracked and reported, giving an accurate view into exactly what’s going on in the field. 

Losing connection doesn’t mean losing a sale 

The best part is that your field sales don’t have to get interrupted even if your reps aren’t connected. With offline functionality, PSI means your sales reps can continue to access the whole process whether they’re in the city centre or the heart of the countryside. 

The system stores all address and product data, route information and sales forms offline, and automatically switches to offline workflow as soon as the connection drops. Reps don’t have to hunt around for signal or come back another time – they can continue closing their sales, and trust that validations will be completed as soon as they’re back online. 

That means your field sales reps can be confident they’ve always got the right data in their hands. Their time isn’t wasted, and this smoother rep experience will lead to better employee retention.  

Ready to scale when you are 

With the PSI system, flexibility is part of the package. You aren’t hemmed in to a daunting multichannel solution if all you need is to manage door-to-door field sales right now. But if you’re ready to start integrating more channels, our higher Scale and Market Leader tiers can open those doors for you. 

That means when you’re ready to start scaling, PSI is there for you at every level. You don’t have to worry about retraining your team to use a brand new piece of software, or risk losing any data migrating it to a new system. 

If you’re ready to take your field sales campaigns to the next level, learn more about PSI Territory Management.


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.


Brand reputation and field sales: the untapped competitive advantage

Let’s say you’re a sales rep knocking on the door of a potential customer. The door opens. You’re greeted kindly enough. You begin your pitch about fibre-to-the-home, and you think you’re onto a winner. But then they stop you.

Oh, someone already came by about that – and we’re not sure we want to hear it again. The last person didn’t give us a lot of space. In fact they signed me up to something I didn't know I was committing to.

Poor practices serve no one, so you'd be forgiven for thinking situations like this were long dead, especially considering the UK's history with field sales and fines. We thought these were relics of bygone decades. However, if you browse TrustPilot it tells a different story, even for long established players in the market.

Even so, we were surprised to be having a discussion with a telco who was experiencing these issues recently – via another company on the same wholesale network. We’re talking misrepresentation, putting pressure on prospects, and getting customers to sign up to things they hadn’t agreed to.

The thing is: in our experience it doesn’t take much to fix the issue. Whether you’re a wholesale provider, ISP or sales agency, you have a lot to gain from viewing compliance through the lens of your brand reputation.
 

The situation for telcos and sales agencies

If you’re struggling to stop poor behaviour in your field sales reps, we empathise. You can define what you want reps to say and do, and you can communicate this to them, but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll do it.

We’re not out to blame the reps either. Poor behaviour is more of a symptom than a cause. It's a tough climate out there, and if a sales rep needs a commission, they may well bypass what they’re told to do so that they, or their family, can make it through pinch point moments of the cost of living crisis.

While bad actors exist, the core of the issue isn’t the reps or the management, it’s the level of control that management have. And whether you’re outsourcing your sales, scaling your organisation or recruiting for a project in a new region, that control is hard to keep hold of.

For telcos and the sales agencies that work with them, ramping up those new projects is a lot of work. There are considerations around what you’re selling, the commission structures, the tech you’re using, the people you’re hiring… and it often needs to happen very, very fast.

So how should we handle field sales? How do you optimise your performance while dealing with so many variables? How do you manage risk, meet targets, and make sure the brand’s reputation is intact?
 

Play the long game as well as the short

In the telco industry, particularly at the beginning of a new project, it’s very easy for sales goals to become about two things: numbers and speed. And there’s good intentions behind this: to get people out there, make it all happen, get the sales flowing… and worry about the rest later.

This short termism does help with speed to market, but it often produces a lesser set of results. Potential customers aren’t just for lead generation, and customers don’t just exist for the moment they sign on the digital dotted line. You want them to stick around, and to think well of the brand the reps are representing.

That starts with compliance. Better quality interactions with reps will lead to fewer broken sales and less churn, and this becomes your competitive advantage.

 

How to set yourself up for success

With the right systems, processes and technology, you can see the sales results you need while building a robust brand reputation. Here’s what you need:

Smart systems and structures

The structures you put in place will reinforce the culture you do or don’t want in your sales teams.

In particular, it’s worth thinking about how your pay structures work. Commission-only based pay often leads to ‘sales at all costs’, but there are innovative ways to approach this that incentivise reps in smarter ways and inspire collaboration between sales teams.

Training and monitoring

A high sales employee churn in the telco industry means that training is a constant need and can end up being very costly. There are ways of delivering this training via device and games… but there’s also something to be said for pairing up experienced team members with more junior members in the field.

Experienced reps count for a lot here. A new ISP we worked with chose to hire a team consisting only of experienced sales reps. Combined with our muliichannel sales technology, this ensured they only delivered best practice. As a result, they were able to penetrate a market and their brand currently has an excellent 4.4 out of 5 Trustpilot score. One reviewer commented: “For once the man who sold me the product was true to his word.”

Training and experience only gets you so far, however. Like this ISP did, brands need to monitor their reps to ensure the training sticks and the experience is formed of good habits. That’s where sales technology comes in.

Technology and effective territory management

We’ve seen this aspect go wrong in two different directions. For ISPs and wholesale providers, we’ve seen them opt for whatever technology their sales agency is using, without thought for how suitable it is for their product and market, and their overall business needs beyond this one team and channel. On the other end, we’ve also seen sales agencies forced to use the technology, if any, that their client insists upon. Both approaches can lead to a poor technology fit.

The technology you need to monitor compliance is easy to define: it should provide real time data reporting fit for the telco industry. While to avoid mis-selling, you want technology that puts that data to work across your sales cycle, automating route generation so no rep prematurely knocks on the wrong door.

BillSave is a sales agency that uses our sales software in their pitch to clients. Their team recognises how important the compliance aspect is to what they do, and they’ve found that educating their potential clients here has helped them to win contracts.

Investing in the right kind of technology has paid off for other kinds of brands too. When UNICEF put their donor teams back on the streets after the initial COVID waves, they could do so with real time oversight of the teams, so they could be sure the team were working in the correct areas, and biding by the rules and guidelines.

To learn more see how end-to-end sales software can futureproof your organisation check out our free report on whether you should build, buy or customise the software you need.


Get ahead of your telco competitors with offline capabilities

The connected world has made life much easier but while networks are getting better and faster, there are still black spots. In our personal lives, the minutes lost to poor network connection might mean waiting for a video to load or for a call to reconnect.

But in a sales situation those vital moments of disconnection could translate into uncaptured data, frustrated potential customers, missed orders and lost revenue.

Pair this with the high expectations customers now have when it comes to synchronicity and seamlessness and it's easy to see why offline capabilities are an absolute must. Particularly for the telco industry, which should be at the cutting edge of connection. Field sales teams need to be able to close leads without limitations, otherwise there will be a limit on revenue.

Stu Holliday is the Chief Commercial Officer for ZYBRE, and he’s worked with field sales teams throughout his whole career. He says, “There’s definitely a knock-on effect of not being able to complete an offline order, on the customer, rep and business.”

But surprisingly, most sales software doesn’t include offline working as a key feature, and the bottom line of telco companies suffers as a result. If field sales teams find themselves in badly connected environments 15% of time, that’s a 15% increased likelihood of lost sales, reduced productivity and decreased team motivation.

 

Selling reliable connectivity anywhere

During new customer acquisition and customer onboarding, clients are looking for a reliable service. When companies try to sell connectivity but don’t have a dependable connection themselves, that reliability is challenged. This occurs in both urban and rural areas but for telco companies like Ogi, for whom remote regions hold much of their customer base, the impact will be even more significant.

Paul Main, the National Sales Manager of Be Fibre told us, “It is part of the government’s maUnlessnifesto to bring gigabit broadband to ‘every home and business across the UK’ by 2025. However, 4G connectivity only covers 85% of the UK so finding a mobile sales solution that operates ‘out of network coverage’ will play a critical role in ensuring we keep the promise.”

Some impacts are obvious. At the point of closing a sale or a key stage of data capture, stalled sales software forces customers to stand around in frustration and might lead to failed orders.

Elsewhere, let’s say a sales rep invests time in delivering a presentation to get a new business client on board. But after their winning conversation they can’t complete the sale – simply because they’re offline. Here it’s a double hit. The business loses revenue and the rep’s motivation also suffers.

Stu says, ‘’It’s not just about having good connection to be able to increase the speed and number of orders being processed, but it’s also about the effect on the mental state of the sales rep too.”

“Salespeople will get demotivated if they’re pressing confirm on an order and it’s not going through,” Stu says. “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.”

It’s all easily avoidable. Our sales software is designed specifically with telco field sales in mind, which means it’s designed to stay connected at all times. It does a lot more than simply allow a rep to fill out a form offline. Our software functions in its online capacity even when it’s offline.

How is that possible? Let's explain this key feature of ours.

 

How we designed our online platform for an offline frontier

When one of your reps is offline, our systems can detect this. And instead of simply waiting for an internet connection, our software responds intelligently, going via an offline route to update the server.  This allows the rep to continue to collect customer data as part of the offline sales process, with the device then syncing this data once a connection has been made again.

Stu says, “PSI’s ability to process and timestamp an order offline automatically, is a game changer.”

“If you’re asking reps to select offline, load the new CAF, submit the order then try to turn it online again, productivity can be hugely impacted. Whereas the PSI system means performance is consistent and reps can sell whether they’re in rural areas, the top of a high rise or even at an underground business.‘’

You could say we’ve worked around the imperfection of the 99% connected world. And we’ve done it with a creative software solution that works how a customer looking to buy a connectivity package would expect.

This key feature also means our offline capabilities are fully GDPR compliant. The system still functions as one device processing the data in one fixed moment.

Of course, just like all modern cloud-based systems, the customer doesn’t know anything different has happened. The whole process is smooth and contained. And with less chance of sales breaking, teams are free to grow leads and own more effective territory management.

 

Sales software built by industry-vertical experts

PSI’s sales software are alone in offering this vital key feature. You can line up all the sales or lead capture products on the market, and PSI is the only option with GDPR-compliant, offline capabilities built in.

Paul says that this technology “will continue to allow us to push into UK rural areas that we have been unable to reach previously, serving our communities better and delivering our promises.”

We pride ourselves in providing a unique customer service to the telco industry and always scan the market to see what problems are arising so we can provide solutions from automation to multichannel sales.

All PSI products come with this dedicated industry expertise and focus built-in to the design and configuration, so you know you’ll always have the best systems running. Get in touch to book a demo and see it in action