Ensuring the Future of the U.S. Carrier Industry: Is It Too Late?

Attending a major telecom industry conference is like going to a high school reunion – annually. There we catch up with the same colleagues, competitors, and friends who have been attending for years. Some are there in a different capacity, but the faces are mostly the same. It’s a great time.

Over the years we have established a certain way of doing business in the carrier space. It’s like an exclusive fraternity with our own language and nomenclature. We built this industry from the ground up. More than just knowing who built what and who bought whom, we know how to get deals done. Our experience – and value – extends beyond network technology and architecture knowledge to encompass things like maintaining interpersonal relationships with key customers and partners, employing best practices, knowing whom to ask when questions arise, and which players are the best fit for the team.

An Unspoken Truth

And therein lies the problem: The vast majority of industry knowledge and expertise lies with those of us nearing retirement, and there doesn’t seem to be a freshman class of educated carrier sales executives pledging our little fraternity. There aren’t many new faces working the U.S. carrier expo booths – at least that’s what we’ve observed at the last few ITW and PTC conferences. Maybe it’s because there’s not a lot of time or budget allocated to get new reps up to speed. There is so much pressure to hit the streets and make quota that little time is left to learn the business, and many new hires fail. But if there is no one left to take our place, how will U.S. carriers meet the challenge of ensuring business continuity and meeting customer expectations?

At these same events, however, it appears obvious to the casual observer that international-based carriers are working hard today to ensure critical technical knowledge and relationship building skills are passed on to the sales executives who will take over tomorrow. Tenured executives have junior sales reps shadowing their every move, absorbing technical knowledge while soaking in the culture of their organization and learning about best practices from mentors.

Somehow, they cracked to code to hiring and retaining new sales talent. While we cannot know the specifics of their compensation packages, it is apparent that international carriers are making the long-term investments in next-generation personnel necessary to ensure continuity. They have found a way to take the focus off commissions today in favor of a smoother transition to tomorrow.

If U.S. telecoms don’t begin to change how we recruit, compensate, and mentor the next class of sales talent, we run the risk of eventually losing business to international competitors. But it’s not too late. Here at Wave Business, our new Associate Program is designed to take the pressure off new team members to make quota while they learn the business. It’s a start, but we don’t have all the answers. What is your company doing to preserve the knowledge?

Unchanging sales force demographics - whitepaperLet’s get the conversation started!

The greying of the telecom sales force is an unspoken truth in the U.S. carrier industry. It’s time we started talking about it openly for our collective good. Download the white paper, (Unchanging) Sales Force Demographics: Thoughts and Questions about the Future of the Carrier Industry, for a stimulating discussion on the future of the U.S. telecom carrier space.