Talent [R]evolution

Building a data-driven sales engine for fibre

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In Europe, we are on the brink of a fibre revolution. The region is experiencing a mass migration from copper ADSL networks to fibre broadband, supercharging connection speeds everywhere. For telecoms, this represents a substantial opportunity. This isn’t only due to huge investment from governments, but also substantial backing from private equity. As a result, a number of established incumbents and new players are entering the market.

The hype surrounding fibre rollout isn’t unfounded. International organisations and private investors alike recognise the value of fibre connectivity. For instance, the European Union is throwing particular weight behind expanding fibre networks. They have implemented various policies to encourage investment, under the banner of the Digital Single Market. This is with a view to boosting the digital economy in both urban and non-urban areas.

As a result, we’re seeing a race for expansion in the most lucrative zones. In an increasingly crowded market, gaining a competitive advantage is crucial. However, telecoms companies face unique challenges; customer take-up in FTTH/B is a very granular market. From urbanised to rural areas, every region has very different competitive geographies. Within these geographies are various customer profiles: commuters, industrial, second homes, and so forth.

As such, companies require hyper-local marketing and data-driven sales strategies, both before and after rollout. Via an integrated marketing and data-driven sales approach, telecom providers can quickly identify lucrative areas and gain market share and penetration. Yet, considering the granularity of the market, doing this at scale presents a challenge. This is where data analytics are crucial. In this first article in a two-part series, we explain more from a sales perspective.

The FTTH/B investment boom in Europe

Before discussing tools, it’s useful to look at the current environment in a little more detail. According to the FTTH Council Europe, the total number of homes and businesses passed with FTTH/B in the EU39 countries reached 182.6 million in September 2020. For scale, that’s another 10 million homes over the past year.

In terms of annual growth rate, the leaders were Belgium, Serbia, and Germany, up by 155%, 110% and 66% respectively. This means that by today, 52.5% of European homes have fibre coverage, showing a clear upward trend from 2015 figures, which sat at 39.8%. However, it’s not just about network coverage – it’s about sales. These are on the up too; over the same period, FTTH/B subscribers increased by 16.6% to 81.9 million.

Meanwhile, the European Union has deployed various financial instruments to maintain traction in fibre. Key initiatives include the European Fund for Strategic Investments and the Connecting Europe Facility in Telecom (CEF). Both offer funding opportunities for the deployment of digital services, or ‘building blocks’ designed to meet targets for broadband access. 

Data-based sales for fibre
Data-based sales for fibre

Certainly, fibre is lucrative and growing. Subsequently, the arena is becoming more crowded and telecoms providers need to make strategic decisions about infrastructure and marketing investments. This is because a one-size-fits-all plan won’t make the grade in the context of such a complex market. Ultimately, it goes without saying that businesses in rural Serbia will require a different approach to residential properties in Paris.

Data analytics holds the solution

This granularity is what makes analytics essential to a fibre deployment strategy. First, we’ll begin with a brief overview of the importance of data in general and why they are vital to penetration targets. Once this ground is established, we’ll look at the tools.

In short, it’s because a data-driven, integrated marketing and data-driven sales approach will optimise the go-to-market process. In a crowded field, businesses need to have an informed picture of ROI and this is nigh-on impossible without analytics. With this intelligence, companies can predict demand and identify the most lucrative areas. Looking to the future, they can use data to sustain success.

Data-driven sales approach
Data-driven sales approach

As introduced, the granularity of fibre markets makes this challenging – but data makes the challenge surmountable. With external data, commercial campaign data, client data and historic network deployment data, telecoms companies can analyse the market potential of a given geography. From here, they can compare and contrast projected market penetrations to make strategic choices about network deployment. 

Moreover, it’s not just about taking the product to market; it’s also about running the business in the long term. With the data-driven sales engine running, companies can monitor results, facilitate the flow of processes, and optimise the marketing and data-driven sales approach according to performance. This will make the operations infinitely more agile and future expansion more strategic still.

Tracking data-driven sales efforts and metrics

Orchestrating the go-to-market is key to the success of customer penetration. This is ultimately facilitated by two arms: the sales effort and the marketing effort. Together, this integrated approach will ensure that the network reaches the optimum number of homes, businesses, or any other property. Here, we’re going to examine the sales angle.

The sales effort will be characterised by various traditional and modern techniques. Often, indirect channels will be integral; the potential to sell packages to customers via third party retailers remains an important metric, even in the digital age. Equally, there is still a lot to be said for D2D marketing and telesales in regards to the rollout of new technologies. A human touch is often valuable when explaining the benefits.

That said, digital is critical, and in many regards, will be the key channel feeding the database. Targeted performance campaigns on social media, SEM marketing, and affiliate campaigns will log interactions giving a perhaps more telling picture of interest. This will give companies an idea of the take-up rate in a given area versus another, and thus, their respective profitability.

However, the key to a cost-effective marketing plan is identifying the most cost-effective channels. These will vary from area to area, as different media will reach different customer profiles to varying degrees. Via hard data, businesses can identify which channels deliver the maximum impact according to deployment territory.

Forward and backward analysis

So we have two key areas: geographies and sales channels. Together, sales successes can be tracked according to area and trends, then compared and contrasted within the resulting analytics dashboard. These trends can be observed via artificial intelligence to fully automate the process.

After the initial network deployment, these same principles can be deployed to monitor campaign success and the viability of footprint expansion. Herein lies a crucial feature of a data-based sales engine – the potential for forward and backward analysis.

Via the analysis of historic data, companies can measure the penetration evolution per deployed cohort versus the target. From here, they can go deeper still and monitor penetration evolution per sales channel. Naturally, this analysis gives a strong indication as to which channels the company should invest in.

This leads us to the forward planning utility of the dashboard. Via the incremental analysis of all planned actions, companies can obtain a detailed list of sales activity per territory. These insights can get more granular still, with aggregated views to understand the importance of various metrics. For example, the dashboard enables the comparison between market penetration versus city hall visited.

Client case study: Monitoring data-driven sales in Königsdorf

To demonstrate the utility of these functions more clearly, we’ll look at this Outvise client case study from a network looking to expand in Königsdorf, Germany. As a small village in the northern part of ​​North Rhine-Westphalia, this example demonstrates just how granular these insights can be.

The backward analysis began with a map visualisation of the cohort’s footprint, including homes passed, and the proportion of these homes that are marketable. From the outset, this visualisation gives telecoms providers a picture of the profitability of the area versus the investment in infrastructure. By illustrating the necessary last-mile network extensions and potential sales, companies can make more accurate ROI projections.

Sales results are then measured from month one to month 12, capturing data at HP level and linking it with the date-of-service compared to penetration targets. This is quickly constructed via three data sources based on Python. Now, the team is working on re-programming the tool on the basis of BidQuery, Google Sheets, and Confluence for other clients.

Data-driven sales fibre case study
Data-driven sales for fibre: A case study

This data feeds into the forward planning component. By analysing the planned data-driven sales activities per deployment area, telecoms providers can clearly analyse the impact of a given data-driven sales action. With a clear visualisation of the importance of a given channel, companies can adjust the budget accordingly and measure ROI according to geographies and demographics.  

How Outvise can help you with your FTTH deployment

Outvise consultants and data engineers have worked closely with telecoms providers to build data-based solutions for fibre rollout. Via optimised, data-driven marketing and sales design, companies can identify lucrative areas, design bespoke marketing plans according to granular demographics, and ultimately, boost take-up rates.

With a solution like the one designed for the Königsdorf client, telecoms providers can track and monitor granular data, at town, municipality, or any given project coverage level. This allows for detailed tracking of the investment strategy, comparing plans to actual results. This enables companies to review data on an ongoing basis and identify key improvement levers.

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With an AI-powered network design, telecoms providers can identify candidate locations for FTTH rollout. Via the assessment of potential take-up rates and RIO per location based on advanced analytics, they can prioritise projects based on financial, network and commercial criteria. The result is a more robust business plan in an increasingly competitive market.

In part two, we’ll discuss the marketing angle. Subscribe to stay up-to-date.

Senior marketing and sales consultant in data analytics.
15 years of experience in sales transformation programs and analytics.
Wide experience with Telco Operators both in Europe and Africa.
Areas of expertise: sales, direct and indirect channels, digital acquisition, Business Intelligence, Geo-Marketing, Sales Channel Optimization, sales operational efficiency.

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