Telecommunications services providers are expected to deliver reliable services in any given situations and business environments, while tapping new markets to sustain business and more importantly creating growth opportunities for a dedicated frontline sales force.
"Sales professionals must be adaptive to the fast-changing business landscape, and be creative in the way opportunities are pursued," says Kenneth Mok, senior sales manager, data & IT services, business market, Wharf T&T. He notes that instead of just selling products and services off the shelf, a salesperson acts more like a consultant these days. "The key to success is to work closely with the clients and to understand their business requirements in order to tailor data and IT services solutions to fit their specific needs," he says.
Global economic volatility continues to spur demand for information and communications technology (ICT). E-marketing and data management solutions that enhance cost efficiency are some of the "recession-friendly" products that are driving business activities in the government, education and hospitality segments, Mr Mok adds.
According to him, customers are either taking a cautiously optimistic approach or seriously looking for justification when making a purchase decision. They now look for more innovative ICT solutions that will help to improve business prospects at a more justifiable cost. The quest to meet mounting customers expectations always give professionals in the field an adrenaline rush.
For Wharf T&T, continuing the investment in staff development rather than tightening training resources in taxing times like this is a bold move and is adherence to the company's commitment to its people, according to Florence Cheung, the company's human resources vice president.
"Aside from product training, the wide range of our staff advancement programmes comes down to one fundamental objective, which is to groom our sales professionals into competent and resourceful consultants," says Ms Cheung. Emphasis is placed on honing innovative thinking and harnessing the individuals' ability to manage change. "Recent moves into the gaming industry and designing data and IT solutions for the increasing number of entrepreneurs are fruits of this specific training approach. We also pay premium in building teams that are capable of offering flexible, creative and meticulous business solutions to meet the changing needs of our clients."
The company has allocated additional resources in strengthening the team's technical prowess. For instance, sales representatives are now required to take courses towards earning the Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing & Switching (CCNA) certification. While technical knowledge and skills of this level were once thought to be a quality of computer engineers, Ms Cheung says that these will become essential for sales people aspire to step into the role of a consultant.
Meanwhile, she is anticipating a stable growth in the demand for ICT sales professionals. "ICT services are part and parcel of every business. As technological advancement forges ahead, the range of services will expand and demand for professional assistance will grow," she says.
A decade of experience in the ICT industry has taught Mr Mok that a good salesperson can always identify new territories, introduce new ways of thinking and provide innovative solutions that meet customers' needs. "A creative flair helps a great deal," he remarks.
Likewise, he sees innovation as the way to drive business sustainability in the highly competitive ICT market, especially during an economic downturn.
His role as leader of a 16-staff team encompasses major responsibilities like boosting motivation, building team spirit and providing members of the team with the right drive towards achieving and sustaining business, professional and personal success. Aside from immersing his team in brainstorming sessions, Mr Mok offers advice on the effective use of company resources for winning business.
In the face of constant and unexpected changes in the economic environment and the ICT world, perseverance and determination always steer the course. "We are not afraid of change," he reiterates. "We manage change."
Aspiring individuals equipped with a university degree and keen to develop a career in ICT sales can expect to pick up a wealth of technical and domain knowledge on the job. Mr Mok adds that the quality of a personal drive makes successful sales professionals in this highly competitive and fast-changing market. "Job candidates that are creative, flexible and adaptive to change will be a good fit for this industry," he says. "Self-motivation makes the job more enjoyable than most."
A member of the Wharf Group, Wharf T&T was established in 1995, and has a telecommunications network infrastructure of its own. ICT solutions provided by the company range from voice, data, conferencing, email messaging, web-building and hosting, IT security, network solution and integration, application implementation, data centre, business continuity and disaster recovery services.