How remote working has transformed the telco industry

An abstract image of a human face in profile made of circuits.
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Ryzhi)

Selling in the telecommunications industry used to be simple: commercial buildings relied on commercial services, and residential ones fell into the retail category. However, when the COVID-19 crisis hit, it forced swathes of Britons to work from home for months on end, meaning that their broadband ended up being used for both business and personal purposes.

About the author

Tom Castley, Vice President of Sales, UK Outreach.

While working from home certainly has its benefits, it has caused a lot of disruption. Today, Britons use the same network for confidential business data as well as their social media accounts, which can leave a gaping security hole without the right cybersecurity practices in place. Home networks also need to provide bandwidth that can cope with Zoom usage for eight hours followed by an extra three of Netflix, something most retail services never needed to condone with previously.

The telecommunications industry has never felt pressure like this before— because it’s not only people’s social lives being affected by broadband, it’s their professional careers too. What’s more, the traditional split between commercial and retail simply doesn’t apply in a post-COVID, remote working, business model.

This is leading to a challenge in the telco sphere: who should be responsible for selling services to remote workers? And do they qualify for business rates? Interrogations then remain around whether telco companies could be missing out on huge revenue by offering retail contracts to people using their broadband for business.

This then begs a fundamental question: should a hybrid team be created to manage these contacts that sit in-between commercial and retail services? This new world order is a huge opportunity for the telco industry – as long as it’s willing to adjust to the blurring of lines between commercial and retail. And that starts with rethinking how sales operations work best.

Transforming telco sales

Over the past year, all businesses experienced an abrupt shift to remote work that made it clear technology is no longer just a ‘nice to have’ but the new way to do business. While recent shifts created more urgency for digital transformation in sales, the need has been bubbling under the surface for quite some time. 

For one, non-revenue generating activities like administrative tasks and spending time in spreadsheets drains valuable time that could be spent prospecting or accelerating deals. What’s more, today’s sophisticated B2B buyers have grown accustomed to a modern (and entirely digital) buying experience.

For traditional sales teams in the telco industry, who used to heavily rely on their little black book for a living, sharing a list of prospects can be daunting. While the industry needs to move from this perception that contacts are the biggest measure of a strong salesperson, we are seeing a move in the right direction: the sales industry has started to adopt sales engagement platforms. 

Simply put, these platforms create a centralized pool of information about prospects and customers to enable sales team to work better together. This results in increased collaboration, higher engagement rates, and less time spent nurturing a prospect before turning it into a customer.

In a digital-first world, the sales engagement platform sits at the heart of any telco’s tech stack. It syncs existing workflows across all disparate tools and channels — from sales channels (email, phone, text, social, etc.) to CRM systems, and other third-party solutions, including marketing automation and prospect intelligence. Even better, it centralizes all customer communications, sales activity, and telecommunications data in a single place.

A hybrid future

Office-bound ways of working have changed for everyone. And with the pandemic not going anywhere in a hurry, working from home is unlikely to change for any business sector anytime soon.

To deliver a differentiated customer experience, sales teams need to work closely together, be able to share best practices at scale, and know which messaging to use By adopting solutions such as sales engagement platforms, they can access greater insights and create standardized processes for teams to follow. In-platform analytics tracks activity and gives sales leaders real-time data on how well their team is executing on that model. 

Plus, with data on sales results, sales leaders can evaluate closed/won opportunities and revenue to understand how well and where the process is driving success. This approach also improves collaboration so that the commercial and retail sales teams can work alongside each other to generate revenue while servicing those customers that sit in-between the two divisions.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for the telecommunications sales industry to leapfrog and adapt solutions that enable it to be more effective, more collaborative and more accessible. As we look towards the future, it’s clear that the lockdown will leave a long-lasting impact on the sector. Now is a perfect time to adopt the right solutions for the new role of the telco sales expert and put sales back where it belongs: the strategic engine for the entire business.

Tom Castley, Vice President of Sales, UK Outreach.