The next author to introduce himself to our readers is our Sales Director, Stephen Barclay…
How long have you worked at Entanet?
I first came to Entanet in August 2010, so I’m well on my way to six years of service.
What are your key responsibilities within the business and what are your areas of expertise?
As Entanet’s Sales Director I’m responsible for the strategic direction of our sales efforts and ultimately for both customer acquisition and retention. In reality this means that my role is quite diverse – from overseeing sales planning, forecasting and revenue targets to the strategic direction of how we engage with customers. This means making sure that we work in conjunction with our partners, that our sales process is consultative and that we support our partners to achieve their goals. Of course this also means ensuring that we have the appropriate skillset and expertise available within our team, specifically from a technical point of view – so that we can add value to our partners with our creative approach to solutions design.
With regards to opinion, which topics do you usually cover and why?
Unsurprisingly, I tend to cover the more product focused articles and anything directly related to sales or providing sales advice and training. For example some of my most recent articles have been about the importance of effective service and delivery in Ethernet, the effect of extremely low broadband pricing on customer retention and the potentially cannibalistic relationship between fibre and copper broadband.
- Selling with care – a guide to consultative selling
- Ethernet: can you put a price on service and delivery?
- Is bargain broadband pricing driving customer churn?
- Fibre broadband: is it really an ADSL cannibal?
Do you have any specific industry areas of interest that you would like to discuss on opinion or that you particularly follow?
My particular interest is in setting and meeting end user expectations – it doesn’t matter what service or product your organisation is selling, you should always ask yourself “what does the consumer / end-user want to achieve and how can I / my business help them achieve it?” – so I’d like to write more about this.
To me, the best technology is invisible – an end user doesn’t care how an email gets from point A to point B, they only care that it actually gets there. It’s easy for all of us in the channel to forget this and focus too much on the technology, so I try to make sure that we focus on enablement and meeting the needs of the end user in our solutions design. As a wholesaler, it’s incumbent on us to make sure the tools are available to our partners in order to achieve the end-user goals and that we support the partner in achieving it.
One of your latest articles was about fibre broadband and its potential to cannibalise copper based ADSL connections. In the article you argued that whilst the availability of FTTC/P is increasing upgrades from copper based ADSL, you are still experiencing new fibre provides too. Is that still the case?
Yes it is. There is no doubt that a lot of existing ADSL/2+ customers are taking full advantage of the benefits of fibre broadband and upgrading to it when it becomes available to them but in addition to these upgrades we continue to see a high number of new provides. Fibre broadband is generating huge demand and interest among end users and is a valuable tool for both customer attraction and importantly, retention. Remember, FTTC incurs a contract period of at least 12 months as opposed to our standard 30 day contracts on ADSL/2+, guaranteeing your revenue for a longer term.
You also recently discussed the potential link between low broadband pricing and customer retention problems. Do you think this bargain basement pricing trend is harmful to the industry?
I think bargain basement pricing has already fundamentally changed our industry as the data element of what is (in essence) a bundle has been devalued, which has forced smaller ISPs out of the residential market.
The impact of low headline rates is also spilling out into the business market, where the channel is focused. Small business owners have been duped by the advertising of ‘cheap’ residential packages into thinking broadband is cheap to buy and implement. We’re finding that it’s becoming increasingly important for our partners to educate users on the value of quality connectivity in keeping a business online and how they can add value in terms of providing a holistic approach, such as including IT and telephony support.
Ultimately we all know that providers exist to make a profit, and that those providers who promote low headline rates for broadband will be making profit elsewhere within the bundle – such as in the required phone line rental that’s hidden in the small print or the call charges. However it’s the fact that end-users haven’t made this connection that has made this approach so very costly to the industry.
We actively encourage feedback and interaction from our readers, what would you like to hear about from them?
I’d like to hear about our partners’ sales approach – how they find customers, how they sell to them and how they add value. My experience is that this varies depending on whether the business is technology or sales led and it’s something that really intrigues me. I’d also be interested in learning where partners go to for sales support and whether they’d like us to provide more assistance.
Getting to know Stephen
What are your interests/hobbies outside of the office?
My greatest love (aside from my family) is cricket. I play, I umpire, my boys play, the whole family watch matches and until recently I managed the under 15 team at Bridgnorth CC, which kept me very busy during my spare time. I love cricket because it teaches so many life skills – strategy, planning, focus, team skills, self-awareness – watching the changes that have taken place in the kids that I’ve coached over the years has been very rewarding.
In quieter moments I also enjoy reading books that promote personal development – there’s always room to grow and learn, so I’m keen to keep developing myself.
If you could have a superpower what would it be and why?
It’d be to be able to predict the future. We live in a time where the pace of change is phenomenal – what technology can do now was unimaginable less than a generation ago. While this is hugely exciting, the winners will be those who can predict (with some accuracy) what the future holds.
Who would you like to meet dead or alive and why?
Napoleon Hill, author and pioneer of personal-success in an era of massive and fundamental societal change. Everyone should read “Think and Grow Rich”.
What are your three favourite things in life?
My family, cricket and food.
What is your pet hate?
Disingenuity. Don’t try and be what you’re not, anything other than being honest and genuine is a complete waste of everyone’s time.
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