Challenges abound in the telecommunications industry. Apart from the growing demands in customer service in volume as well as complexity, the main challenges facing any player in this industry are the fierce competition and the general commoditisation of telecom products, with differing service offerings from major providers.
As such, the selling process goes far beyond contract signing, with delineations defined along the pre-sales and post-sales procedures as well.
"Bringing added value for the customer comprises the competitive edge in our industry today," says Kenneth Wong, assistant sales manager, corporate sales, New World Telecommunications (NWT). "In particular, when negotiating corporate contracts, customer confidence results from well thought-out solutions and extensive product knowledge. Initial meetings generally involve understanding the nature of clients' needs and expectations, and gathering background information."
Another important factor is contingency planning that reflects the post-sales reaction of a service provider to a crisis. For instance, following the recent earthquake off Taiwan that disrupted telecommunications services across Asia, NWT immediately swung into action to restore services by contacting partners experiencing lesser impact to help get services up and running again.
To excel in the selling process, Mr Wong believes that a genuine interest in communicating with people is important. "Sometimes the boss or the senior managers of different departments in a multi-national corporations may sit in without prior notice when I am making a pitch to their IT staff. Rather than feeling pressured, I welcome such opportunities since they enable me to detect the concerns of such key decision-makers such as resilience, cutting operational costs, raising profits, IT support, and so on," he says. "Such insights can provide crucial information and help me craft a winning proposal. This also shows the depth of a client's attention to a potential service provider, because, once the decision is made, the clients themselves must be accountable for service quality, and so integrity and honesty on our side are important."
Alfred Chan, unit manager, e-business sales says: "Clients, whether multi-national corporations or SMEs, look for 'total solutions' providing convenience, quality and operational efficiency. When customers invest capital, time and trust in your service, they naturally expect a handsome return. They are specially thankful if we take a step forward in devising business strategies for them, even before such opportunities actually emerge, allowing them to tap into new gateways to profit."
As for e-business markets, search marketing is now a major and burgeoning market. Keyword searches in Internet surfing keep changing, and timely advice to customers on fresh keyword hits is much appreciated.
"We closely monitor these keywords for such changes, and so help clients tap into the greatest number of potential customers. This is an important part of our post-sales activities, together with efficient IT support and continuous fine-tuning for optimal business maximising solutions," Mr Chan adds.
Mr Chan notes that positive attitudes are essential. "Optimism and positive thinking, innovation, keen observation, curiosity and flexibility to accept changes — these all help detect new business opportunities," he says. "For example, our one-stop shop service bundles several search engine platforms together to maximise business potential for our clients made possible in collaboration with Yahoo, Google and Baidu." Professionalism and dedication are the keys to long-term client relationships. "We treat this relationship as part of the business cycle. We assume real partnership with clients with service excellence, because we facilitate them to succeed in their businesses," he adds.
Both Mr Wong and Mr Chan were awarded the Distinguished Salesperson Awards last year, in a competition organised by the Hong Kong Management Association and Sales and Marketing Executives Club. Mr Wong says that an energetic, outgoing personality with a keen interest in meeting and talking to people, and the courage to overcome challenges, are excellent attributes for career success. As a team leader, Mr Wong believes that a good learning attitude is most important. Mr Chan supplements that there is still huge potential for developing and enhancing different aspects of telecommunications services.
In addition, NWT cultivates a fair, open and caring corporate culture to build team spirit and morale. Staff are also provided with professional sales training, including product knowledge and sales techniques, sponsorship on job-related training provided by local and overseas institutions, language skills such as English and Putonghua, and team spirit workshops, including war games.
Basic requirements for telecommunications sales
- Form seven or college graduate, with proficiency in Chinese and English
- Preferably with sales experience of two years or above
- IT and advertisement knowledge or experience will be assets
- Good interpersonal, communication, and analytical skills
- Initiative, optimism, customer-oriented and perseverance to meet business objectives
- Willing to accept changes and face challenges
- Specific telecommunications product experiences not necessary because extensive training will be provided