No area of the business is more resistant
to changes in techniques, objectives, and operating styles than the sales force.
Most salespeople and many sales managers believe that sales is the same job it has
always been and that somehow the sales force is immune to the chaos and radical
renovation that the rest of the telco must go through. Although the skills of the
salesperson are still quite valuable to most telcos, the role that salespeople play
and the mission that they are expected to fulfill in the future will be very different.
Salespeople of the past were free agents —
free to follow their intuitions and do whatever they needed to "make
their numbers." For this generation of sales style, keeping records, maintaining
a calling discipline, and informing the rest of the business of what was going on
with customers was an optional and non-critical activity.
Today, an increasingly large part of the sales job revolves around helping
the rest of the telco organization be aware of what is happening "in the field"
on many different levels.
The Sales Force as Customer Service
More and more, the sales force is expected to do more than simply "get
the order." Instead, they are asked to take on the role of full service provider
interface. The modern sales force, therefore, needs to keep track of the complete
picture of the customer's relationship with the telco and assure that the value
equation for both customer
and telco is being optimized.
The Sales Force as Field Market Researchers
Many telcos have realized that the absolute best way to find out what
customers are doing and thinking is to commission the sales force to find out. Since
the salespeople are at the critical interface point with the customers, they are
in the best position to ask the questions and gather the intelligence that advertising,
marketing, product development, finance, and the rest of the sales organization
need answered to prepare optimum campaign and product development activities.
The Changing Corporate Sales Force
Indeed, no sales role within the telco has taken on more significance
and added responsibility than the corporate "relationship manager" salesperson.
Today's corporate customers expect the corporate sales team to be a true, full partner
in the exploration of money-making opportunities. The telco rep is expected to provide
input on the latest telecommunications technologies available and how they can help
the customer reduce costs and increase sales, including especially the creation
of new telecommunications-enabled product offerings. It is the job of the corporate
sales team to explore, define, and deliver these radical and highly innovative solutions
to their customers.
The Changing Channel Sales Force
As the role of independent channels (retail, wholesale, agent, and other
non-traditional channels) has increased in significance, the telco has created a
new channel sales force to support those activities. With the increasing role of
channels and the rising importance of the good will and opinion of major channel
partners, channel management sales teams become critical team leaders.
The Changing Consumer Sales Force
In no way have the consumer sales teams been exempted from the need to
define new tactics and strategies to support the optimization of their market opportunities.
New, highly flexible territory and specialization organizational approaches, coupled
with more comprehensive account management and intelligence gathering responsibilities
make the consumer sales management job one in desperate need of the help that sales
force automation can offer.