It appears that in talking to many telecommunications, NBN retail providers and ISP businesses, the most common challenge is how to acquire new business and retain customers. Typically with new business development, this challenge can be competency, cultural, skills or resource-related or external market driven.
If you have been in the telecommunications business for several years, the economics and dynamics of the reseller market is very dynamic and more price sensitive than ever before to gain market share. An industry benchmark of customer Net Promoter Scores (NPS) is even more important to track and survey your customers.
Many business claim they are servicing their existing clients very well and have “never” lost a client! That said, often the next statement made is one around the desire to acquire and grow new business, however many owners or sales/marketing managers cannot articulate, when asked, how they go about it. Often there is a look of uncertainty or a shrug of the shoulders, and the following responses are common:
- We never lose a customer
- It’s difficult to find good sales people or traditional “hunters”
- We are busy enough with servicing our existing customers and growing within our client base
- We don’t have good leads coming in from marketing
Even if customers are being comfortably retained, it is important to not become complacent as business and economic conditions can quickly change, potentially affecting customers’ situations and ability to maintain the relationship. While these circumstances are beyond your control, if you are a business owner or director of a NBN provider there are proactive steps to be considered in this market.
Here are 6 questions to consider when reselling NBN services:
- Are you investing in sufficient branding and marketing initiatives to ensure your are front of mind for NBN consumers to consider your business?
- How are you going to protect your customer base from churn and other NBN provider competition?
- How will you differentiate your services aside from a price driven conversation?
- Are you offering no lock-in contracts with NBN services or month-to-month fees?
- Have you completed a profit and revenue scenario analysis on subscriber ROI as part of your Go to Market strategy?
- How will you streamline your customer engagement to increase your customer lifetime value and NPS ratings?
1) Consistently develop brand awareness for NBN B2C market
Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket, relying on larger and/or existing clients for your revenue stream, new business development strategy is required to be continually developing and securing new business. Without developing sufficient brand awareness and understanding your buyer's behaviour it is difficult to create customer loyalty and retention. Find out how to understand this first as part of your brand messaging go to market strategy.
2) Differentiate your NBN business
Your sales opportunities and pipeline, and new customer acquisition should not be left to generate (or not) organically, rather they will flourish with the correct strategy and investment implemented across the business. Don't forget from a customers' view, what are you going to keep doing to add value for them and personalise their experience and therefore minimise churn as NBN resellers.
3) Focus on customer experience and NPS
There are more than 100 NBN reseller providers approved by NBN as of the last listing on the NBN website.
The risk if you are selling on price and low profit margin offers means that this is not sustainable for cashflow and growth, given NBN pricing plans don't have a fixed contractual obligations. A lack of diversification of new business revenue streams can quickly place the business and employees in a dire situation. Hence the cost of the acquisition of a new customer is more than improving customer experience and cost of retaining a good customer with service.
If you conduct regular NPS surveys to your customers and use digital channels to match the way your customers interact, you will be able to use those insights to respond to their changing needs and wants from consumer feedback. Too often this regular and personalised service is overlooked after the first sale and not followed up until a technical or customer issue happens or contract resign or extension is needed to be discussed. Don't let this happen to you!
Recently an ISP client mentioned they had 7000 clients over 10 years but only 2000 had been reached out to over the last year only by email newsletter distribution. There needs to be a more efficient way to communicate with your customers regularly or to provide relevant information of value to them with the right channels.
4) Invest in more sales and marketing automation technology
The market today presents so many technologies, platforms and cloud-based, to provide a very customer centric experience from first contact right through, using AI to service customer support and sales.
A good use of CRM, workflows and marketing automation with your brand and content strategy can help you drive your business forward. Being proactive in contacting your customer base will naturally help provide value such as NBN network and service information.
A CRM should be used as a dedicated tool for sales and marketing tracking activities. A common part of this alignment is to consider an integrated sales and marketing automation system with CRM included, which may be cost effective to consider if you don’t have any current platform for your sales team.
Pick a system that suits your business processes and strategy first rather than the other way around. Sales teams need a “single source of truth” for everyone to access and see historic sales data, contract renewal dates, history and marketing activity as well as contact profile information.
Talking to small business owners, I often find that they use MYOB or another accounting/service delivery package, yet these are a static resource, not an active and interactive CRM that can be used to facilitate business development and growth.
5) Hire the right people to join your customer services team
It’s hard to hire the right people unless there is a willingness to invest in the right talent acquisition strategy and appropriate hire.
If you do hire Business Development Managers incorrectly, the cost of employment and time in the market to sell gets diminished to fall behind sales targets.
How to hire the right salesperson is a balance of understanding the right type of person suited to your culture.
Simply hiring someone from a Tier 1 organisation based on their experience may not suit if your organization is young, in start up or growth mode and/or more unstructured in terms of business culture.
Similarly, paying someone to bring in their rolodex of contacts doesn’t apply anymore. While there is still value in having contacts and existing relationships, this still carries risk to your brand and reputation if their inherent values do not align to what you can offer, and how you offer it.
Ideally someone who is motivated and hungry for success with the right energy and ability to still pick up the phone and establish rapport and relationships is still relevant, despite the shift to the digital marketing focus for lead generation. Effective sales engagement is still face-to-face or over the phone and being able to deliver superior customer service is central, no matter the approach.
6) Differentiate through implementing the right customer delivery processes and optimisation
The progress of self service portals and support have been seen in telecommunications and customer service platforms. As an NBN services provider you need to think about how to evolve your response times, provisioning and activation processes. Have you thought about how to use advance call centre inbound chat or digital and social media channels to service your client demographic preferences?
It also requires an understanding of what type of clients you are seeking and who is a good fit for your products and services. Often marketing campaigns and research with customer profiling can help with the segmentation process of where the sales teams engage for new business development.
We strongly advise reaching an agreement between sales and marketing on relevant details (such as leads, the nurture process and sales cycle, and handovers), but even more important is for the business owner/director to support the sales engagement process and to ensure that expectations are realistic.
Investment in your brand and delivering cost efficiencies within operational departments are required to preserve your profits from a customer lifetime value perspective.
Here, I’ve aimed to highlight that, in the NBN provider market, resellers are finding it increasingly challenging to generate or develop profitable new business in a competitive marketplace. For the NBN services, customer experience and knowing what your NBN consumers are looking for in a service provider is an important part of your go to market strategy planning.
Here is a NBN provider list for internet and phone services published from NBN Co website (*current as of 7th February 2018).
For further details on any of these points above with a confidential discussion on how we can assist you for new NBN Marketing or Business Development strategies, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or register for a free initial consultation.