There is no doubt that Truphone presents a unique proposition to the mobile market. Any questions about the brand have always been around whether its USP is enough to provide the revenue in an industry of thin margins.
It is little surprise therefore that there has been an emphasis on sales recently. The UK b2b market is one area where the network sees the potential to grow its customer base. The firm recently hired ex-Vodafone Global Enterprise employee Andrew Lowe as its sales director, with the brief to increase its customer base in the UK.
The right target market
Lowe believes that targeting the right businesses will be key to Truphone’s success in the UK. Speaking to Mobile, he says that the firms need to be of a ‘certain substance’. Explaining the strategy, Lowe says: ‘We weren’t going for one-man bands or huge organisations. We set the target of finding businesses in the 15-20 employee segment, and those in the 1,200 to 1,500 base as our initial strategy. What is very interesting is that we have had more than a dozen brands larger than that approaching us; this is particularly impressive considering no one knows us. We are looking to get to business owners and trying to convince them of our unique offering.’
From a business perspective, Truphone is limited to a certain extent in who it can target. The companies it goes after have to do enough business overseas to make it worthwhile for them to take one bill. Unsurprisingly therefore, the brand has attracted interest from multinational organisations. Lowe believes his experiences at Vodafone mean that he is well placed to go after the right type of business: ‘I spent five years at Vodafone Global Enterprise, and while what we provide is similar in the UK to other operators, what is different is that we are an entirely global service.’
Why Wi-Fi won’t work
With the rise of app-based internet international calling solutions, the first battle that Truphone faces when addressing new customers is how they differentiate themselves from this popular method of calling from overseas.
Lowe continues: ‘You have to get people over the hurdle of the singular SIM for multiple countries. But when you start speaking to business leaders and CEOs they can immediately see the benefits. The reason people are buying from us is because of the freedom to use the product.
‘As consumers we are used to using Wi-Fi and it does have its place, but Wi-Fi is not yet at a stage where it can be considered business class; if it was we’d be concerned. But the truth is that it’s not, and in the immediate future it will remain that way. There is a place for video calling services, but currently that remains in the consumer space.’
Swimming the channel
Truphone knows that in order to increase revenue streams it will need its appeal to extend beyond large multinationals and to smaller businesses that work overseas. To this end Lowe is keen to take on the right channel partners for the business: ‘Channel is such a huge part of the proposition for us because it opens you up to so many virtual salespeople. The customer can buy our services in eight different country locations and we can offer the same service through channel partners.’
One incentive that Lowe has for encouraging channel partners is through the facilitation of partnerships across geographies, he explains: ‘We’re also looking to help to facilitate channel partnerships across different geographies. Our channel for sale is not just the UK, and we can help our channel partners to work with others to increase their coverage too.’