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


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.


How Gaining Insights from Your Data Can Help You Win More Deals

We’ve all heard the saying “data is the new oil”, but what may not be as well known is the concept behind it. Like crude oil, raw data isn’t valuable in itself. To unlock the actionable insights it contains, the data must first be accurately gathered, combined with other relevant data, and analysed. When properly done, it can bridge the gap between how you think your business is running and how it’s really running.

Doing this requires embedding the actionable insights acquired from your data into your business strategies for more proactive and intentional decision making. Energy and telco companies that recognise the importance of the data they capture and act upon it will be in an enviable position to improve the way business is conducted, and ultimately win more deals.

 

When Intelligent Data Isn’t Part of the Sales Journey

Data can provide a bounty of intelligence when it comes to understanding where you’re excelling and where improvements need to be made to increase sales closure rates. Let’s explore two sales scenarios – door-to-door field sales and online sales – looking at each through the lens of when data isn’t integrated into your processes.

 

Door-to-door field sales: Given closing the deal is the primary goal of your field reps, do you know if money is being left on the table? For example, we’ll assume that during the course of a day, a field rep knocked on 10 doors and made 1 sale. Although the good news is that a sale was made, what do you know about the 9 prospects that declined to switch providers? Do you have the insights to know

  • Why the 9 prospects didn’t make a purchase?
  • If any of the 9 prospects are short- or long-term actionable leads?
  • If any business intelligence was captured from the 9 prospects?
  • If one or more of the 9 prospects were previous customers and switched to a competitor? And if so…
  • Do you know which competitor they switched to?
  • Do you know why they switched such as to take advantage of a product you don’t offer, the competition offered lower rates, or provided better service?

 

Online sales: Are you killing the competition when it comes to online sales? If not, do you know why? Let’s face it, when customers make purchases online, they’re pretty much left to their own devices throughout the sales journey. If virtually every customer that visited your website completed a sign-up form, your sales figures would be on the rise. Since that’s not a realistic expectation, the question you need to ask yourself is – why are prospects dropping out of the sign-up process?

While both of these scenarios highlight the need to integrate intelligent data into your sales processes, data can also give you the insights to better understand your field sales reps performance and where improvements are needed.

 

Using Data to Shed Light on Sales Performance

The 80/20 Rule, also referred to as the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of sales are made by 20% of your sales reps. And that’s not all, a recent McKinsey & Company article discusses the performance gap between sales reps, saying that regardless of the metric used, the top 30% of your sales reps will outperform the bottom 30% by as much as a factor of 4. In an industry with high turnover, closing the skills gap sounds insurmountable, doesn’t it? Not necessarily.

The first step is to gain an understanding of what makes your best reps so good. This is where the data you collect can help. By introducing field sales rep and customer surveys, as well as technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), you’ll be able to acquire the behavioural data of your best sales reps to determine patterns in successful deals closures. These insights can then be used to refine your sales strategies by embedding digital training, coaching and field rep assessments into your workflows.

Your goal should be to introduce small incremental improvements, rather than a single sweeping change that could have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve. Use the insights you gathered and a phased approach across all customer-facing parts of your company. When combined, the marginal improvements implemented will – over time – have a big impact on your organisation.

 

Put Your Data to Work for You

Are you arming your field sales reps with the data they need to win business? PSI Touchstone enables you to gather data and seamlessly integrate it into your sales stack. Drawing from multiple sources we help you capture and validate the data you need to close sales performance gaps and win more deals.

Our energy and telco clients gain the analytics and insights to see where prospects fall out of the sales cycle, retarget prospects that didn’t complete the sale cycle, and analyse sales performance metrics. Remember, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Don’t let another day go by without having the data intelligence you need. Contact us to schedule a 20-minute call with one of our data specialists.


4 reasons to deliver training via device for Field Reps

For your new hires, nothing is more important than being able to properly train them so they can smoothly integrate into your already existing company operations. And in the utility industry, the speed at which training is done plays a crucial role in how quickly your new employees can go from trainees to full-fledged employees finalising contracts in the field.

In this post, we’ll outline the benefits of training your new staff with the use of a digital sales solution, on their device, as opposed to conducting informative sessions in a traditional or digital seminar setting.

 

Transition with Ease

One of the toughest parts of bringing new members on board is being able to shed their past work habits and instil ones that benefit their new role. For companies that have salespeople in the field, and utilise a digital sales solution to deliver for your customers, introducing your sales reps to the solution early supports quicker ramp up time.

Rather than conducting training sessions in a traditional or digital seminar, make use of your digital sales solution through a mobile device to instil a sense of mobility in your workforce.

Whether your company subscribes to a BYOD policy or if you provide your staff with devices, having your hires in front of the application right out the gate is bound to get them acclimated quickly to the productive work environment that you’ve created.

Training via seminar is beneficial if your team works from an office. However, as an energy or telco provider, your employees will be in the field, at customers’ homes and in the office. On-the-job training will likely be required as new members may pair up with experienced field team members. While commuting between clients, these new hires can make use of their time by fulfilling training sessions on your mobile solution.

 

Improve Memory Recall

Oftentimes, it’s the non-traditional methods that stick out the most for employees. In fact, more companies are using mobile applications or games to conduct training sessions as opposed to seminars due to their ability to improve memory recall.

Especially for the tasks that may be mundane and repetitive, using these new-age techniques for training can help make it easier to remember how your management team likes tasks to be done.

 

Meet Employees Where They Are — On Their Device

As it’s becoming more popular to see companies adopting BYOD policies as part of their business strategy, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that employee training is cashing in on this trend also.

While your utility company makes necessary adjustments to industry trends, the same should go for your internal operations. By meeting your employees where they are, you’re showing your ability to adapt to new trends and that will likely improve your team’s satisfaction within the workplace.

Spend less time assembling your new hires and coordinating a physical seminar by conducting your training sessions on your mobile solution.

 

Save Time & Paperwork

Seminars are costly, from assembling all the necessary employees, printing materials and pausing regular business tasks. And while there are benefits for face-to-face interactions, there are also helpful training tools you can use with your mobile application platform to get your team up-to-date on the way your company is run. Using the technology at your fingertips in your training session allows you to eliminate the costs for paper, ink and paused business.

As there are clearly benefits for both forms of training, teaching is done through mobile application platforms likely best suits those in the utility industry. For more information on how to conduct training sessions effectively using your digital sales solution, contact one of our representatives to set up a consultation today!


Thinking About Outsourcing Field Sales? Here’s What You Need to Know to Avoid Common Complications

When regulated companies such as energy and telco providers first launch their door-to-door sales efforts, they often choose to partner with an outsourced field sales agency rather than build an internal field sales team. By outsourcing, at least initially, the benefits far outweigh any disadvantages and include:

  • Speed of entry, which enables the energy or telco provider to hit the ground running
  • Industry expertise that helps to mitigate common field sales mistakes, reducing risk
  • Elimination of administrative tasks such as hiring field reps and conducting new hire and ongoing training
  • The ability to collect data and market intelligence to support the need for additional internal or external field sales reps
  • Obtaining field sales resources at a reasonable cost

The key to building a successful partnership with an outsourced field sales agency is to find one that meets your business needs, as well as instils field sales integrity so that the quality of your brand’s reputation remains intact.

 

How to Stay in Control When You Outsource Field Sales

While some organisations choose to outsource field sales over the long term, others use outsourcing as a stop-gap for just the first few years – giving them the time to build internal market knowledge and drive external market awareness. Once a healthy and predictable return on sales efforts are recognised, many energy and telco providers make the decision to migrate to in-house field sales teams, franchise, partner with additional outsourced field sales agencies, or use a combination of internal and external field sales resources. Regardless of the field sales model chosen, it’s at this point that complications can arise.

When changing their sales model, the most frequent obstacles energy and telco organisations face are the ownership of the sales data that was collected by the field sales outsourced agency and the rights to the technology license. Often regulated organisations that outsource the field sales channel also outsource the technology to the outsourced agency. This means that the outsourced field sales agency may own all of the data, insights, and reporting, without you having the ability to access the data collected by them. Also without rights to the technology license, if you want to add an additional partner, you would need to acquire another license, which ultimately results in the collected data and control siloed between two technology licenses – without you having full ownership and oversight. That is, of course, unless the contract between you and the outsourced agency clearly specifies that you own or can transfer ownership of the sales data collected and technology license.

To further illustrate data ownership challenges, let’s take a look at two organisations that have encountered these obstacles and their outcomes.

 

Two Outsourced Field Sales Agency Tales with Different Outcomes

 

Company 1: A Telecommunications Provider

With limited field sales experience, a global telecommunications provider opted to partner with a local outsourced field sales agency. Initially, the partnership operated as designed, however over time challenges emerged and the telecom company decided to bring field sales in-house and form a relationship with the same technology provider that was used by the outsourced agency. Since the agency owned the technology license, which encompassed data, insights, and reporting, the telecom company was unable to acquire any of the data – leaving them with no field sales business intelligence. Since ending their relationship with the outsourced field sales agency and becoming a client of the technology provider, this telecoms provider now owns their technology license, which provides them with a full suite of tools, enabling them to capture data, find and resolve sales process gaps, deliver actionable insights to the business, and win more deals.

 

Company 2: A Utility Organisation

New in the market, a large utility organisation also chose to initially work with an outsourced field sales agency. Unlike the telecoms company, the utility organisation also worked directly with the technology provider to draft short- and long-term goals, and develop a plan for how and when they would change their field sales model. In addition, the utility company made sure that the contract between them and the outsourced field sales agency specified that all data, insights, and reporting collected by the agency would be owned by the utility organisation. The contract between the outsourced field sales agency and the utility company gave the utility company full visibility and control over what happened in the field, allowed them to add additional teams and partners to the system, and provided the option to take over the relationship with the technology partner.

As we look at these two companies, the reason why the telecoms company encountered problems when the relationship with the outsourced field sales agency ended and the utility company didn’t is that, unlike the telecoms company, the utility company had a clear vision for the future and planned for it.

 

Mitigate Future Risk by Planning Ahead

It’s important to remember, especially when you’re new to field sales, that what works when you’re just starting out may not work as your company matures and gains market share. Whether you’re entering a new location or new to field sales, engaging an outsourced field sales agency will help you to quickly enter the market with relative ease. However, it’s equally as important to remember that the commercial relationship you form with the outsourced field sales agency needs to not only reflect sales, but also data and insights; otherwise, their focus will be strictly on sales, leaving valuable intelligence either uncaptured or unavailable to you.

PSI is dedicated to the innovative use of mobile technologies and field force automation to enhance data-driven decision making. We partner with regulated industries, like yours, as well as outsourced field sales agencies to give you all the tools needed to be successful. With the recent rise in door-to-door energy and telco sales, you need someone in your corner that can help you overcome initial risks, plan for the future, and profitably grow the business.

Don’t wait until tomorrow to plan for the future of your field sales. Schedule a demo today to learn how PSI can help you avoid field sales complications.


More power to your sales teams - improving energy customer experience

How do you set about improving customer engagement when switching providers is super easy, and brand loyalty is flailing in the quest to find a better deal?

Changing consumer habits and increased competition have left utilities battling to keep customers happy, which in many cases has contributed to falling customer retention.

In this article, we’ll outline how a software-led approach to improving your customer’s experience at every interaction has the potential to help retain customers.

 

Differentiating commodities through choice

Utilities are  perceived as basic commodities. Some commentators put worsening customer engagement down to changes in consumer perception and purchasing habits. While price is an obvious focus for some, others are concerned about how the environmental impact of non-renewables is being tackled, or how the company will fair from a customer service or complaints perspective when things go wrong. Given how similar utility provision is from one supplier to the next, the customer can pick the most appealing provider on enhance grounds of choice.

 

Quality customer interactions and service

While energy providers may not have much room to self-differentiate on product offerings, how they manage the customer experience at every interaction is something that can set them apart.

As 2021 energy satisfaction survey from Which reveals, challenges are still present for the largest energy providers in customer service and complaints handling, knocking 28% off the score from the highest ranking (Outfox the Market), to the lowest ranking (Npower). When taking in additional factors including how quickly they respond to customers, how quickly they resolve complaints and others, that pushed Octopus and Pure Planet into the top two spots.

Clearly, customer interactions provide a rare chance for energy providers to set themselves apart. It is an area where the largest energy providers have an opportunity to reimagine and win back their customers.

 

Easier sharing of customer information

A long-standing problem with customer interactions has been the lack of pertinent information at sales/customer service agents’ disposal. With multiple communication channels involved, and almost certainly multiple team members too, keeping track of the moments that matter to customers has been an insurmountable task.

According to an Accenture report ‘Customer-centricity: Must-Have or a Waste of Energy?’, communication time between utility suppliers and customers averages out at a mere 10 minutes per year. If your support agent in the field or your sales agent at the call centre does not have up-to-date information on the company’s relationship with the customer, they’re likely to spend much of that crucial contact time repeating steps and frustrating the customer.

This information deficit creates essentially transactional relationships that discourage brand loyalty.  The providers who are excelling at this have the advantage of being digital-first, being about to create or procure systems and tools to create great end to end customer experiences that delivers what the customer expects at every stage of their journey, in a simple and intuitive way, and has the information readily available to solve their problems when they arise.

By leveraging better-informed communications to facilitate better-engaged customer relationships, you can build trust and positive impressions. This can be achieved using software that pulls customer information and interactions into a central, digital location, which can be accessed by the team members who need it in the moment.

Not only can this approach enhance B2C communications, but it can also support cross-departmental communication to solve customer cases. With this approach, we no longer have a fragmented team coaxing the same information out of the customer again and again. Instead, we have a well-integrated team that has consistently listened and logged any customer details which could have longer-term relevance.

 

Omnichannel and a single customer view (SCV)

Now we’ve touched on how software can help improve B2C communications (and therefore customer engagement), let’s get to grips with the central concepts behind the required technology.

Above all, using software to improve communications to energy customers will rely upon the capability to create a single customer view (SCV), by bringing together every channel of communication – including telephone, email and SMS – into a single system. This allows the sales agent who is responding to a customer’s query to look back through their interaction history and learn more about the case, for example.

Alongside communication logs, the SCV might also include account details including live data from the customer’s smart meter, which may cut the time it takes to handle customer problems.

For larger energy companies this has historically been a challenge with disconnected systems and processes meaning data can be siloed in different departments. With stretched internal technical resources this can take years to resolve, however you can utilise tools and platforms from partners to extend the business capabilities and hone the right experience for your customers, while this is being mapped and built in the background.

 

How rich customer interaction data can help de-escalate complaints

The thing about omnichannel customer interactions in a single channel view is that providers stand to get more out of it over time, thanks to the gradual accrual of actionable customer data.

For example, some energy providers can predict when a customer will next make a complaint, by looking at their previous interactions and challenges certain time period. Such insights make it possible to proactively intervene sensitively in customer interactions, effectively defusing them before they escalate to a more serious level.

If you are reviewing how you can better deliver for your customers and would like to discuss how we are enabling the transformation of customer experience for our customers, schedule a 20 minute call with our team now.