The more renowned a company, the less willing they are to talk about their cooperation with external service providers. Not so Matthias Schmidt, “Manager of external partners” at mobile.de. Having received the “Stevie Awards” at the end of September, Matthias Schmidt gave me a 30-minute interview for our blog on November 21.
Teleperformance: Mr. Schmidt, thank you very much for taking your time to do this interview. Your experience with telesales goes back years, including stints at 1&1 Internet AG and the Swiss Swissad. Since October 2015 you have been responsible for the management of external partners at mobile.de. How to do you pick your vendors?
Matthias Schmidt: I am looking for vendors that perform as well as, or even better than ,we do in-house. These are then short-listed. Pretty simple actually.
Teleperformance: Not too long ago you chose Teleperformance. Before talking about that, can you tell us why you were awarded the “Stevie Award” in the category “Maverick of the year”?
Matthias Schmidt: The “Maverick of the year” award recognizes managers who have the courage to go unconventional ways. At bottom the award honors my department´s performance and that makes me proud.
Teleperformance: Can you describe the sales concept we are using while working with mobile.de?
Matthias Schmidt: By the end of 2016, we had a product for retailers with an additional option. We split it into three products, our so-called service model. This service model builds on three demand-oriented service packages from which retailers can choose. This, of course, provides us with opportunities for upselling. We focused on our c-segment customers of around 34,000 retailers to which, quite frankly, we had paid little attention before. In the course of 2016 we launched our four-step pre-marketing to exploit this customer group. Step one was a call on the occasion of mobile.de’s twentieth anniversary. We offered a free contingent of our online sales tools, such as a top placing on our website, a colored frame or having ads ranked in third place. Step two consisted of evaluating demand metrics and follow-up to particularly increase intrinsic motivation, besides boosting sales. Phase 3 has been an energy group´s prominent poster campaign. On entering the market, the group had put up posters displaying red, just plain red with nothing else. We called the group’s customers and asked them to prepare for a great campaign to follow in 2017 and to pay attention to our caller ID. That way we ensured good reachability. This was followed by an upsell offer in step four.
Teleperformance: What were the success factors?
Matthias Schmidt: A good mix of technical innovation and the right people. We successfully work with Salesforce®, but had to realize that this tool is too complicated for sales agents´ daily use. We invested in integrating Salesforce® and dialer platform Elsbeth®. Elsbeth® now transfers call information into the Salesforce® databank every 10 seconds. The price was actually awarded for this, but there is more to it than that.
Teleperformance: You are talking about the people here.
Matthias Schmidt: Yes, but in line with our global strategy. We used to have key account managers for 2,500 A-segment retailers and account managers for as many B-segment customers to support retailers in using our retail platform. In addition to this, we now have agents to advise about 34,000 C-segment retailers. I am using the word advise on purpose, since these agents are rather “inbound consultants”, who cover the entire spectrum of acquisition, up and cross-selling, and churn and retention management. Among our vendors are Teleperformance in Dortmund, another west German provider, and one in the east.
Teleperformance: The success factors are technological innovation and a geographically well-distributed and structurally well-managed vendor landscape. Our experience is that mobile.de engages with vendors on equal footing, something that is talked about much but rarely practiced. Do you follow a philosophy?
Matthias Schmidt: We want to be the best client of our vendors. We are happy if a vendor’s staff prefers to work for us rather than for other clients. This way we make sure to have the best people working for us, who recommend us in their company as a “cool brand” worth working for. On a higher level, let us say project managers and above, we strive for a relationship based on partnership. We talk with everyone and hold everybody accountable. We do not want our vendors to go at each other’s throats.
Teleperformance: Lastly, why have you settled for Teleperformance?
Matthias Schmidt: I can say that it was very hard work to win us over. In the end, two points were decisive: You managed to convince me that Teleperformance’s strategy is changing towards sales, and finally by the end of the application procedure you were able to present me with a complete team for the project launch. This deserves a chance.
Teleperformance: We will definitely take it. Thank you for the interview.