Taking the pledge

15 December 2010 | Camille Mendler


Here are some new year’s resolutions to promote a profitable and successful 2011.

It’s time for smart wholesalers to take the pledge. After all, it’s what we routinely do when a new year dawns: give up a vice; resolve to improve ourselves; get fitter. There’s no reason why wholesalers shouldn’t do the same. The bullish results of the 2010 Smart Wholesale Survey by Capacity magazine and Yankee Group should be fresh in your minds: eight out of 10 wholesalers expect to achieve revenue growth and, for many of you, significant growth, over the coming year.

But if this global industry is on the rebound, then let’s not impede its momentum. So I invite wholesale leaders in Europe and beyond to make the following resolutions and affirmations:

1) I accept that being big is not a strategy. So you’re big in wholesale. So what? It takes more to impress today, even if you’ve got unique routes into certain parts of the world. The wholesale industry is built on shifting sands where prices and spheres of influence can dissolve overnight. Remember the Romans.

2) I will reward my sales people on margin growth. Don’t perpetuate bad habits. It’s not the biggest deal that matters, but the most profitable (and the most likely to drive longer-term upsell). It is everyone’s responsibility to validate whether a deal should be closed. The sales person is not just an order taker.

3) I will re-segment my customer base and won’t be afraid to say goodbye. Are all your customers worth keeping? Where’s the growth opportunity? Strength in numbers is a fallacy (see point 1). Understand who your customers are and what they use you for. Make customer satisfaction a bonus requirement for all.

4) I will prioritise investment in infrastructure smarts. Success is not about network expanse, but the systems which maximise and safeguard your digital assets. There’s no point in launching a new service if you can’t bill, monitor or tune its performance. The need for infrastructure smarts is ever more critical as services integrate more moving parts and external delivery partners.

5) I will not follow the herd. Carrier Ethernet, cloud computing, mobile data anyone? The wholesale industry likes megatrends and responds en masse. But if your service is just like anyone else’s, what the logical differentiator? Price. Work the angles, the customer sub-segments and the partners that will differentiate you. Above all, remember that smart wholesale is about being exclusive, not exhaustive.

Camille Mendler is Vice President of Global Communications, Yankee Group. She can be contacted at: mendler@yankeegroup.com