Sales / Marketing

Telecom careers for the upwardly mobile

by Priscilla Chong

Irene Leung (right), general manager; Trence Man (middle) and Dennis Wong, sales managers, corporate and business sales, Hong Kong CSL Limited

Corporate sector requires a special level of sales skills

With the rate of mobile phone user penetration in Hong Kong reported as over 100 per cent, operators are now concentrating their efforts on providing enhanced services for individual users and a wider range of options for the corporate market. These are viewed as the areas in which a competitive edge can be established and a greater market share achieved.

Mobile communications are undoubtedly having an increasing impact on our everyday lives. Data services can now offer movie trailers and financial updates, and this has caused businesses of all sizes to ask how they might better exploit wireless technology and adapt the available services for their own use. For example, business executives now feel the need for devices which allow them to check emails when they are out of the office, and marketing professionals are keen to use innovative promotional tools which will attract attention and allow responses to be traced more accurately.

"Many companies are turning to new mobile data solutions to improve their efficiency," says Irene Leung, general manager of corporate and business sales at Hong Kong CSL Limited. "Therefore, we foresee promising prospects in the corporate mobile market. In recent years the role of selling mobile services has become more professional as the number of options has grown." Previously, customers were concerned about handset brands, case colours, phone book capacity and functions. Nowadays, salespeople must explain the details of 2.5G, EDGE and 3G technology and value-added services, and be familiar with all the most sophisticated solutions.

Training workshops

"For the Blackberry gadget for mobile email services, we asked the supplier to provide a series of training workshops," says Ms Leung. "This has equipped frontline staff with professional knowledge and over 200 of our sales representatives have been exclusively accredited by the supplier to promote this device."

Besides having this type of in-depth product knowledge, sales staff working for 1010, (a mobile brand operated by CSL which targets business professionals), are now required to make use of the company's consultative selling approach. The key is to listen and respond to what customers need rather than being focused on certain products the company may want to sell. Therefore, all applicants for sales positions are asked for their views on how to deliver the best levels of customer service and are expected to have the right mindset. They must be proactive, aware of the market, willing to learn, patient and open-minded.

"We also emphasise leadership and self-motivation," says Ms Leung, who adds that each team still has to meet targets for long-term business growth while maintaining high levels of service. "Sales managers will sometimes join frontline staff during customer visits to make sure that professional methods are being used and that there is correct alignment," she notes.

With the telecommunications sector enjoying a great deal of publicity and media coverage in recent years, many graduates have been attracted to the industry. In common with other employers, CSL is concerned less about their field of study or relevant work experience than their personal qualities and general mindset. Not surprisingly, graduates who apply to the company also have a clear idea what they are looking for.

Positive image

"I wanted to join a market leader with a positive corporate image, a quality brand, and clear positioning," says Trence Man, who is currently sales manager for corporate and business market. "Company support is also very important, since frontline salespeople are just one part of the whole sales process. We initiate contact with customers, but depend upon back-office support to do our job effectively," adds Dennis Wong, who also has a position as sales manager.

Ms Man points out that the company provides an eCRM (electronic customer relationship management) database to analyse likely client needs. "Customers usually appreciate it if we can introduce services which match their latest requirements," she says.

1010 has a team of 60 corporate sales staff who offer professional advice on mobile solutions, handle administrative responsibilities, look after their own customer base, and ensure there is a dedicated contact for each client.

Ms Man and Mr Wong have done this so well that both have received Distinguished Sales Awards presented by the Hong Kong Management Association. "This recognised our professionalism in sales, and since these awards are so well known in Hong Kong, it was even more pleasing to win," says Mr Wong.

A total of five salespeople in CSL's corporate and retail sales team were among the winners and Ms Man believes every salesperson should aim for such recognition. In fact, the company is willing to provide a series of workshops to prepare any finalists for the latter stages of the competition. These include tests to sharpen sales skills, such as having to sell a fish tank to a judging panel which is intent on buying something completely different. The intention is to reinforce the point that a selling job is never easy, but that overcoming the challenges and meeting customer needs can lead to a career which is full of fun.

Keep on moving

  • Mobile data services are helping companies to increase efficiency
  • Selling such services requires detailed knowledge of products and technology
  • A consultative approach is recommended for the best sales results
  • A customer database and back-office support are important in meeting all client needs

Taken from Career Times 20 May 2005
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