Vodafone Gold Partner Air Telecom has hit the acquisition trail and is expanding its managerial and sales team as it moves to consolidate its drive into unified comms.
In two years Air Telecom has evolved from a mobile dealership into a fully fledged unified comms company, recently becoming one of only three Vodafone Solution Specialist partners focusing on promoting Vodafone One Net products. David Iliffe, Air Telecom’s sales and operations manager, said: ‘We are a business which is focused on unified comms, which for us centres around Vodafone One Net.
‘There are still people out there basing their business on the number of connections they do – that is a market we don’t want to play in. We recognised around two years ago that that was not a sustainable model, margins were eroding significantly and we knew that we clearly needed to get more knowledge content into the product, so that we were not just selling boxes but selling solutions.’
Iliffe joined Air Telecom in January, bringing experience from his nine years at Vodafone as a business partner manager. He said refocusing the business required a whole new mindset. ‘Selling solutions requires a completely different approach as to how you do the sale. You have to understand the customer’s business. It becomes a much more consultative process with the team becoming much more technical advisers than sales staff.’
To aid this transition, Air Telecom’s staff underwent extensive training with Vodafone, which has seen over half the company’s staff gain One Net accreditation. The company also connects to O2 and Orange but does the bulk of its business with Vodafone. Iliffe said: ‘Our primary focus is on Vodafone business because it is highly regarded as a b2b operator. It has a much higher business penetration than any other network and is a trusted brand so it’s a much easier sell than any other. Also as a highly specialised channel operator it provides good support, some commercial flexibility and a lot of training. We have a very close relationship with them.’
Air Telecom has between 5,000 and 6,000 customers taking an average of around 25 connections. ARPU is running at over £40. Iliffe attributed this high ARPU to being able to offer customers a range of communication products tailored to their needs and high levels of customer care with regular on site visits, dedicated account managers and a rapid response to customers’ needs. He said: ‘It is very hard to get good business so when we have it we treat it with the respect it deserves. It is absolutely the most important part of our business.’
The company has been delivering strong organic growth since 2009, delivering 50% growth year on year since 2009. However, it is also looking to boost growth further this year through acquisition. ‘We want to scale the business and there is a lot of acquisition activity in the market right now, so we feel it is a good time to do it and good for the business, as it will bring in an instant base and immediate revenue streams.’
The company is also strengthening its team, with plans to take on an additional three business development managers and another two telesales staff, doubling the size of both teams.
Author: Carol Millett