ShortCut: Gaining Ground with SMEs - Page 2

A data-driven segmentation approach sees sales potential as the foundation for tailoring portfolio , marketing and go-to-market strategies . The answers to the following key questions provide initial guidance on future positioning and impact the remaining dimensions :
- Which SME customer segments promise the highest sales potential in the light of your company ’ s telco capabilities ?
- What product and service requirements do these segments have ?
- Can we meet many SME needs by providing standardized customer solutions ?
A primary challenge faced by telco B2B players is the future setup of their sales workforce and their go-to-market strategy . One practice that has proved successful is to combine customer-focused general sales teams ( e . g ., size , customer needs , industry , region ) and product-specific expert sales teams . Having product-specific experts in specific sales situations will significantly boost the chances of satisfying unique customer requirements . Both teams need to be closely aligned – in terms of , for example , commissions – in order to foster a collaborative and productive work environment .
Correctly balancing standardization and individualization especially comes into play in the product layer . An extensive product and service catalog leads to higher costs and , in practice , often longer time-to-market cycles should adaptations be necessary due to greater complexity . Introducing a constant product lifecycle management ( PLM ) approach can establish the critical groundwork for maintaining a lean product portfolio while also satisfying shifting SME customer needs .
Decisions about current portfolio elements must be taken by drawing on market segmentation and identified customer segment needs : Should the element be retained , improved or eliminated ? This systematic approach enables telco companies to monitor and control complexity along the entire product lifecycle and thereby improve time , cost , product and process quality .
In addition , telcos can activate two levers to create a more individualized SME offering : telcos can modularize their products and services , and they can closely integrate third-party providers . One simple example of modularization is to give customers a choice of different customer service options across all portfolio elements . So , for example , the SME could actively choose between a self-service portal ( low cost and less individualized ) and a solution with one-face-to-the-customer service agents ( surcharge / free of charge for high-value customers and highly individualized ). Then again , telcos should realize more individualized product offerings by seamlessly integrating third-party providers in order to keep development and maintenance costs low and to considerably enhance time-tomarket cycles .
The following four enablers are crucial to supporting the SME go-to-market approach :
Revenue management capabilities
The most sophisticated partner and product management capabilities are worthless without a platform that enables various associated revenue-sharing agreements for different setups of partners ( B2B , B2B2B and B2B2X ).
Customer management capabilities
This enabler supports the holistic view of overarching customer journeys to enable cross- and up-selling .
Product management capabilities
Product management capabilities entail the simple integration of products and services ( using internal capabilities or third-party capabilities ) into bundles and solutions for specific vertical solutions or ecosystems .
Partner management capabilities
Partner management capabilities involve an easy-to-integrate link to the partner management platform . An open API-enabled platform allows telco B2B players to integrate product and service partners into their product offerings , which is especially helpful for meeting individualized customer needs .
To realize success , telcos must , in particular , closely align all four dimensions and link them to an overarching strategy . Addressing only a subset of dimensions will not be sufficient to successfully target the heterogeneous SME segment .


Telcos have so far failed to crack the SME market , having only stumbled into the abundance of different verticals that have resulted in highly fragmented SME consulting and product needs . To have an impact , telcos ’ SME strategies will have to concurrently tackle the four core dimensions comprising market segmentation , market layer , product layer and enablement layer while orchestrating the complexities of their interplay .
DR . NIMA AHMADI Partner , goetzpartners JEREMIAS FESSLER Manager , goetzpartners © goetzpartners , 2022