To drive its billion-dollar business, A1 aimed to empower sellers to work together on high-value activities like relationship-building—but siloed data and repetitive reporting tasks stood in the way.
A1 created a sales pipeline management application based on IBM Domino, enabling it to automate time-consuming reporting tasks and centralize its data on sales opportunities.
Increasesoperational efficiency, helping sales teams focus on value-added tasks
Improvescollaboration across the sales cycle, enhancing the client experience
Facilitatessuccessful negotiations and enables A1 to win enterprise contracts
Business challenge story
Equipping sellers to succeed
From homes to offices to cities, technologies such as the internet of things and artificial intelligence are transforming the way we live and work. At the enterprise services division at A1, a leading provider of telecoms services in Austria, the aim is to help businesses drive their digital transformations. Whether companies are looking for traditional telecoms services or the latest digital capabilities, A1 must effectively co-ordinate sales activities to convert prospects into clients.
Georg Schaller, Sales Information Management Leader at A1, begins: “We offer a wide range of services—from simple leased lines all the way up to smart city solutions. Negotiating these kinds of enterprise contracts can be a complex process, and to help us win new clients and retain existing customers, it’s crucial for our sales teams to work together effectively.”
In the past, A1’s employees relied heavily on email and phone calls to develop opportunities and drive negotiations. The challenge with this approach was that data on prospects was siloed in individual sellers’ mailboxes, which made it difficult to transfer knowledge to other teams as a sale progressed. In addition, A1’s sales teams needed to spend significant amounts of time each week preparing pipeline reports for senior managers, which reduced the time available to cultivate relationships with prospects.
A1 was confident that managing its sales activities in a more centralized and automated way would make it easier to share information about opportunities internally. The new way of working also promised to empower sales teams to spend more time on higher-value activities. To achieve its goals, the company decided to deploy a sales pipeline management application.
“We knew that designing a sales pipeline management application from the ground-up would be too complex, and procuring an enterprise-class tool would be too costly,” Schaller explains. “When A1 merged with a business that was already using IBM Domino as a rudimentary sales tool, we immediately recognized there was another way. We decided to use the digital workflow capabilities of IBM Domino to accelerate the development of a sales pipeline solution.”
Enabling collaboration across the sales cycle
By embracing the IBM Domino platform, A1 dramatically reduced the cost, time and complexity of developing a sales pipeline management application in-house.
“One of the things that we value most about IBM Domino is how agile and adaptive it is,” says Schaller. “IBM Domino offered us the business logic we needed to rapidly start designing digital workflows to support our sales processes. The platform was easy to integrate with our systems of record, which include spreadsheets, databases and line-of-business applications. And because we have the flexibility to export data from IBM Domino to spreadsheets, slides and emails, we were able to automate many of our sales reporting processes. To date, the IBM solution has integrated seamlessly with everything from our Microsoft Exchange servers, Teradata analytics solutions and cloud-based applications to our legacy SAP and Clarify systems.”
After a successful proof-of-concept exercise, A1 took advantage of the seamless scalability of IBM Domino applications to roll out digital workflows to support sales teams across all its subsidiaries.
“Every sales team works slightly differently, and IBM Domino makes it straightforward to adapt our digital workflows based on individual requirements,” explains Schaller. “In a previous role, I worked as a sales representative for more than 10 years, so I was already familiar with the kinds of information our people needed to work effectively—but I knew that the most powerful way of finding out how well the platform was working was to ask our employees themselves. By travelling around the business and discussing our sellers’ experiences using the IBM Domino platform, we uncovered opportunities to enhance the solution, such as creating additional data views to answer common questions from sales managers.”
Today, teams across A1 use the sales pipeline application to support their day-to-day activities—from looking up client contact details to generating detailed reports for decision-making. And because all teams are using the same platform, it’s easier than ever for employees to collaborate on sales opportunities.
“Although we did have a central repository for client data before we deployed IBM Domino, our siloed way of working made it extremely difficult to keep the information up to date,” says Schaller. “Today, our sales pipeline application actively prompts users to add information, which helps us ensure that we have accurate data to drive timely, well-informed decisions.”
Driving efficiency and delivering results
More than 900 employees across A1 now rely on the company’s IBM Domino application to coordinate their sales activities.
“Whether it’s our pre-sales teams calculating on costings and working on tenders, our post-sales teams helping to fulfil orders, or our managers overseeing the entire process, IBM Domino is at the heart of practically everything our people do,” says Schaller.
“Whereas in the past our sales teams would have to spend large amounts of time each week building sales reports, our managers can now generate them in the application with the click of a button. As a result, we’ve unlocked enormous operational efficiencies—freeing our sales teams to focus on building relationships with prospects. Most importantly, our sellers now have a centralized platform to collaborate on opportunities, which means we can bring together talent from across the organization to help close deals.”
As part of an international group with operations throughout Europe and in Mexico, A1 must meet regulatory requirements such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which mandates financial disclosures from corporations to prevent accounting fraud. Using IBM Domino, A1 was able to quickly and effectively roll out changes to its business logic to help ensure compliance with the new regulations.
Schaller comments: “For example, if our sales pipeline application detects that an employee has exported more than 50 lines of data to a spreadsheet, it automatically alerts their manager to investigate further and confirm there is a legitimate reason for the activity. The regulatory environment is always changing, and we need to be agile to meet emerging requirements such as the General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR]. Thanks to IBM Domino, we can make the necessary updates to our application without any downtime—enabling us to meet our regulatory obligations with no interruption to the business.”
The majority of A1’s sales representatives use iPads while they work remotely with prospects. Looking ahead, A1 plans to utilize mobile support in Domino 10 to enable its teams to access their applications securely from their tablets.
"The secure mobile support in Domino 10 will change the way we do business,” says Schaller. “Our teams will be able to access databases and systems from anywhere at all times, bringing our whole organization closer to digital transformation."
A1 has trusted IBM Domino to drive its business for more than 15 years, and is confident that the solution has delivered a significant return on investment. Despite supporting a range of complex use cases, the solution requires a team of just three full-time equivalents (FTEs) to manage and develop—including all training and helpdesk-related tasks.
“We have upgraded our IBM Domino platform a number of times over the years,” concludes Schaller. “Every piece of information we put into our sales pipeline management application on day one is still accessible—whether it is stored in our production applications or in archive applications, which also run on IBM Domino.
“Without a doubt, IBM Domino is unbeatable when it comes to total cost of ownership, especially compared to enterprise-class ERP applications that perform similar functions. Just like a decathlete needs to perform at a high level in a variety of disciplines, IBM Domino has proven it has the versatility and agility we need to drive our billion-dollar business.”
About A1 Telekom Austria AG
Headquartered in Vienna, Austria and listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange, A1 Telekom Austria Group is a leading provider of digital services and communications solutions in Central and Eastern Europe. The largest member of A1 Telekom Austria Group, A1 serves private consumers, small- and medium-sized businesses and enterprises across the country, including approximately 6.1 million mobile customers and 2.3 million fixed-line customers.