'The distribution industry is all about focus'

'The distribution industry is all about     focus'
Looking back at 2009, are you happy with Avenir Telecom's performance?
Yes, broadly speaking, but there is quite a lot more we can do. We have made great strides in helping our customers maximise their sales with marketing. I am especially pleased with the excellent start in immediately becoming the top seller of O2's converged products, 'Joined Up'.

We have got churn down to 8% and falling. That was particularly pleasing because the retention team is only one year old and their concerted effort has effectively halved churn. We are planning to strengthen the team further this year as well.

What are your key areas of focus?
Sales and retention. In a well run business, if you get both of these areas right then profit will naturally follow. We have done quite a lot of work on the marketing front - putting together detailed plans with our partners enables us to form longstanding relationships and demonstrably add value to our customers' businesses. 

Why is marketing an important tool?
Having marketing as a philosophy drives a business and creates an environment to do business in. Until a sale is made, marketing is vitally important. This business is all about focus and it is important to pick out what you are really focusing on and do a really good job of it.

Are you proud of any other achievements?
O2 Partner of the Year is an obvious achievement that would not have been possible without our staff or customers. We were awarded the title not just for high sales and low churn, but also for secondary connections, (data packages, bolt ons, BlackBerry, for example) and high ARPU as well. So high spend, low churn, and high volume business is an unbeatable combination. 

It is also really important to create a good culture for staff to work in and you have got to treat them with respect. Our last set of reported accounts show a profit per employee. That is the result of having a loyal and motivated work force.

How do you think you achieved O2 Partner of the Year? 
Focus. Concentrating solely on the b2b sector and on products and services that are relevant to them. We avoid being distracted by other services that are on the periphery, such as prepay, and really focus on those that matter. We continue to develop our market leading position as experts in the IT and Telecoms b2b arena. It's really important to be the expert in your field rather than trying to be all things to all men, and then end up not being very good at any of them.

What is your main focus in 2010?
More of the same. We're certainly not resting on our laurels and in an extremely competitive market, it's vital to continually grow. Behind the scenes we've been investing in our online strategy and the new updated website is just the first visible part of that. There will be more improvements in our bespoke online system called 'Focus' this year, which will enable our customers to get even closer to us and to perform many day to day transactions at maximum efficiency and minimum cost.

We have got twice as many O2 'Approved' partners as anybody else. We give a two year commitment and can afford to invest heavily in the market as a result. We will look to work with dealers as closely as possible.

Are there any products or developments you are looking forward to in 2010? 
Greater expansion of O2's converged products such as business grade broadband being added to its functionality. As you've heard me say many times before, the 'convergence boat' has set sail. To make sure you're part of the joined up IT and telecoms world you absolutely have to be on board, developing and restructuring your business where appropriate to embrace new products and services that might have previously been outside your comfort zone.

We'll need to keep that convergence boat moving, by continually innovating and adding new products and services, including those that might have traditionally been the exclusive domain of the IT sector. Hosted services, software and applications are all examples.

What will make a successful dealer in 2010?
Customer service; really being able to look after customers. It is about knowing them so well that you know what products to introduce to them at the right time. The converged products are a great example. It is important to show some benefit to adding new products for a customer.

There are some really great dealers out there. The ones that are here to stay get out of their comfort zones and are actively looking for additional products and services.

Will accessories grow in importance for Avenir?
You are going to see a lot more this year compared with 2009. Last year we laid the groundwork and we have added manufacturers and products. We have lots of customers and we went to CES to build those longstanding relationships.

How will distribution change in 2010?
Every year I say 'this is the year of consolidation'. It is about making sure we have the right business model for the market. All businesses will have to adapt, grow and be flexible. We have identified two or three acquisition opportunities and we are actively pursuing them. In reality, we are always open to those sorts of opportunities.
Written by Mobile Today
Mobile Today

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