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It would seem that more and more consulting companies are claiming expertise in Cable Sales Force Automation (SFA). The reason, of course, is Cable MSO‘s growing importance into our nation’s living rooms. With an expected increase in merger and acquisitions to gain control of content, consulting firms especially the larger ones are touting themselves as experts in the cable industry to position themselves in hope for future work from the expected conglomerates.

Although this is a pretty good strategy on the part of consulting companies, cable MSOs should be careful about accepting direction from consulting firms that have no practical experience in actual cable operations whether it is warehouse management or SFA.

Industry Knowledge is Critical

The idea of integrating all your cable systems together is a good idea. At the same time, it is very important for Cable MSOs to remember what made them successful in the first place. With this in mind, a good place to start would be with the vendors who know the business inside and out and helped to build this dominance. The reasons are straightforward:

7 Reasons Why Cable Industry Experience is Important

  1. Recreating the wheel: Going with a new entrant into the industry means you will paying for them to recreate the wheel. For example, what will it take for the consulting company to develop a system that integrates into the three major cable billing systems or be able to provide real time wireless credit checks? These re-creation costs will be passed onto Cable MSOs one way or another, lowering operating margins while paying for the consulting companies learning.
  2. The cable sales process is different from sales in other industries. As product offerings expand into triple and quad play, DSR‘s need a proven tool for SFA and Tap Audits (TA) that enables them to make sales to new, existing and former subscribers quickly. Having customer information online including credit information allows for a greater number of sales calls to be made in any given period of time.
  3. Technical support: Technical support is more than just making sure the hardware or software works. Great technical support understands what the tasks are that you are trying to complete and what SFA features you may want to use. Having in-depth cable knowledge leads to better solutions and/or possible temporary workarounds to problems.
  4. Industry knowledge: Vendors specializing in the cable industry have a much better understanding of trends and competitive information. Industry knowledge cannot be bought, it is earned. For example, ask your consulting company how net neutrality or Internet TV might affect your growth plans or sales campaign. Can they suggest or have the tools to take advantage of the changes?
  5. Big Fish versus Little Fish: Cable MSOs should ask themselves; do they want to be a big fish in a small pond or a little fish in a big pond? With a smaller established company, Cable MSOs receive greater attention. In contrast, clients of large multi-practice consulting companies are relatively insignificant and issues will receive a lower priority. A good question to ask is how easy is it to contact the President/CEO?
  6. Company stability: We have made mention in our posts several times before that company stability is critical to support mechanisms. A similar principle can be applied to larger consulting firms trying to obtain a foothold in the cable industry. If the foothold attempt fails, what happens when they decide to drop cable and focus on new markets?
  7. Master of Industry versus Jack of All Trades: Like many software applications, Cable MSOs must choose a support company that can provide fantastic support with Cable related issues or a generalist who can help with multiple areas but does not have the knowledge base to drill down into problems or opportunities very far. It is a trade-off.

The SFA and TA Advantage With Cable Industry Specialists

Having been part of a major consulting analysis team, I can tell you that the analysis they perform on your operations will result in a plethora of things that need to be fixed. But the truth is you already know most of them and the consulting company is simply trying to sell you its services.

Cable specific CRM tools such as SFA and TA are about getting the most productivity from your Sales force. The companies that can help you the most have considerable industry knowledge. Outside vendors such as consultants or software companies without this industry experience place Cable MSOs at risk in a competitive environment. There is no substitute for vendor experience to take advantage of current market conditions as well as plan future actions.