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Nokia CEO: salespeople to deliver true WP7 retail experience supported by improved product management, marketing and accelerated global coverage with a full breadth of products

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Core information:

Nokia Quarter 4 results 2011 webcast [Nokia, Jan 26, 2012]:

prepared remarks by Stephen Elop, President & CEO

[02:00] … Lumia

In Q4 2012 Lumia was introduced to:

  • a number of European countries
  • Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea

… [remarks on January US introduction already covered by me in detail: Nokia’s Lumia strategy is capitalizing on platform enhancement opportunities with location-based services, better photographic experience etc. [Jan 12, 2012]]

  • China and Latin America in this half

Current situation:

  • to date well over 1 million Lumia devices sold
  • since mid November from zero markets to 15 markets, from zero devices to well over a million devices, from no presence in the US to being in lead in the AT&T’s LTE launch

From this beachhead you will see us to push forward with the sales, marketing and successive product introductions necessary to be successfull.

Our performance with Lumia on a country by country basis varies. Often [it] is a combination of relative brand strength and retail execution capabilities.

  • For example, in the United Kingdom, where competitive ecosystems are firmly entrenched, we have seen mixed retail execution around Lumia devices with a range of results among different locations, different chains, different stores and so on.
  • Contrarily in Germany and Spain we have seen steady, weak on weak improvement in Lumia device activations up to the Holiday season followed by a small expected dip in the last week of the year, and then a continued weak on weak growth in January.

.. we are in the heart of our transition, which means as we bring the first of our new devices to market there are areas we are learning and areas where we must adjust:

  1. We are learning more about the variations in our store by store retail execution related to Lumia. Our consumer research indicates and response at CES validates that once a consumers use a Lumia device their responses are positive. Where we’ve secured strong support from the operators we need to increase the engagement of the retail sales associates in the stores, because it is the retail associate who speaks with our consumersand puts the Lumia device in their hands. As a result we are adjusting, we are adjusting our retail tactics by increasing the quantity and quality of our retail associate traning programs, seeding more Lumia devices into the market, and increasing point of sales activities.
  2. With the continued focus on consumer net promoter scores we are also learning about the areas where consumers are most favorable towards the specific capabilities of Lumia and those areas upon which we need to focus. For example, we’ve received very positive feedback on the elegance of design, ease of use, and absolute performance of the products. On the other hand, consumers initially reported that battery performance needed focus. Thus we immediately adjusted to improve battery performance with software updates which are now in the market. This rapid cycle of consumer learning and Nokia response is a critical part of our improved approach to product management.
  3. We are learning that awareness of Lumia is steadily growing, assisted by each of the successive product and country launches that continue. As awareness grows we are adjusting the focus of our marketing efforts from an aspirational aspect of a new launch towards an emphasis on a differentiated experiences and capabilitiesof the Lumia products.
  4. We are learning about the importance of truly breaking through. Thus we are adjusting our plans to increase the rate at which we enter new markets during the course of 2012. We also are increasing the focus of our corporate resources on continued marketing campaigns, and we are working to accelerate the introduction of a full breadth of products.

Overall we’re pursuing this pattern. We’ll take each step up the ladder one running at a time recognizing that the competitive dynamics vary country by country. This underscores the large amount of work immidiately ahead of us to break through as the third ecosystem, to capture the attention of retail sales associates, to convert the increasing awareness around Lumia and the purchase intent, and ultimately to delight our consumers. [09:12]

the essence of the answers to some questions:

on carriers’ motivation:

… motivation on third ecosystem is very strong … consistency on user experience on behalf of Microsoft … it is in our favor but we need earn their respect …

on Lumia sell-through:

… different [retail] experiences and so forth … focus on when and how those [retail] experiences are different … we do see different [retail] experiences and patterns in different countries … some are related to competitive dynamics, brand strengths, retail capabilities and so forth … for example, a lot of those reports tend to focus on UK, which in the context of Europe is the hardest market in terms of breaking through the strength of the competing ecosystems and so forth … you’ll see a lot of ballance in that direction … what’s really interesting is, and this is we’re so much in very early days that you have to really dig into the details … even when you’re in the UK. I was there a couple of days ago, and as you can imagine, I went to store, to store, to store, and asking: tell me about smartphones, what’s new and all that type of thing. You’ll see a great variability of in-store performance in terms of retail experience. .. in certain stores the retail presentation is great, the associates are well trained, everything is right, and of course it correlates very closely with the success that we’re seeing in certain chains of stores, in certain areas and so forth. Very good performance. … In other areas we are not as far along as we need to be. We need better retail execution, associates are not as well prepared, or there are other dynamics that are at play. The reason I tell you about this variability is because, first of all, how people report depend very much on the experience they have, this mix from location to location in some countries. But also as you assess, OK, as we apply more resource, as we make sure that we are very focussed on getting everyone upto the base level, if not the excellent level of retail execution, we can clearly see our way through the work that need to be done in order to deliver the results that we want to continue to deliver. …       

on China dynamics:

… The Chinese operators are increasingly, on accellerated basis entering into structures where there’s effectively retail rate plan bundling is going on at the store. The operators are driving very hard for the volume of 3G data subscribers. And this is not necessary an economic measure as it is driving volume on certain networks for certain technologies. I think those targets are probably set more broadly for all of the operators [he could mean: by the state, as all three operators are majority owned by the state]. And the impact of that is that they are discovering that with very low priced devices on certain radio technologies they can drive a lot of volume at those levels. And so we are seeing, for example, a very significant uptake in a number of low-priced devices that are on CDMA, there’s also a very significant focus on the Chinese technology TD-SCDMA, again all of the low levels ought to drive those volumes. My comment in the prepared remarks is that Symbian is not well positioned today against that. We do not have Symbian CDMA products at all, so we are not participating in that part of the market. So as that part of the market grows our addressable market has gone down because of that. In TD-SCDMA we do have some products in that space but not at the price points and configurations that is the real focus of this market. …

… We have not yet announced our specific products for the Chinese market but I will say that when we first announced our launch plans, I think all the way back in October, we did highlight that we would have CDMA based Windows Phone products and TD-SCDMA Windows Phone products. That thing said it is the case that we have work to do to successively drive the prices down further and further and further. That will take a bit of time but this is clearly the pattern you are going to see us on the months ahead. …

[I have a couple of deep and current analysis on that:
The new, high-volume market in China is ready to define the 2012 smartphone war [Jan 6, 2012]
China TD-SCDMA and W-CDMA 3G subscribers by the end of 2011: China Mobile lost its original growth momentum [Jan 21, 2012]
China becoming the lead market for mobile Internet in 2012/13 [Dec 1, 2011]]

on differentiating the Windows Phone:

… the overall user experience is differentiated against Android … good response from the customers on Music service included, location services (Map and Drive) … partnerships: e.g. ESPN … in addition we have to ensure that the retail experience is differentiated … even price, e.g. in US/T-Mobile case already …

[I have a couple of deep and current analysis on that:
Nokia’s Lumia strategy is capitalizing on platform enhancement opportunities with location-based services, better photographic experience etc. [Jan 12, 2012]
The precursor of 2012 smartphone war: Nokia Lumia vs. Samsung Omnia W in India [Jan 3, 2012]
The leading ClearBlack display technology from Nokia [Dec 18, 2011]
Nokia Lumia (Windows Phone 7) value proposition [Oct 26, 2011]]

on rapid scalability for lower prices of Chinese market:

… a critical consideration for us … work is under way with Microsoft … you will see a stepwise progress in that direction in the periods ahead.

on the mobile phones business:

… feature phones and how that market is perceived is less about the collection of features and what it does and doesn’t do, but it is more about the price span, the opportunity to drive, increase sales in that area, to serve consumers who don’t want to spend the money, or don’t have the money to spend on what we would today consider smartphone and so forth. …

[I have a deep and more current information on that:
Smarterphone end-to-end software solution for “the next billion” Nokia users [Jan 9, 2012]]

Nokia Lumia Momentum Map [Nokia Maps Blog, Jan 15, 2012]

If a picture is worth a thousand words, an interactive map is at least worth ten thousand words! To coincide with the launch of Nokia Lumia in USA; we launched the Nokia Lumia Momentum Map – an interactive way to check out the countries where Nokia Lumia smart phones are either available or will be coming soon. You can also check out the tweets, videos and photos from users about the Lumia series.

The content of the Momentum Map as of Jan 15, 2012:

Country Lumia 710 Lumia 800
Germany Now Now
Netherlands Now Now
Italy Now Now
Russia Now Now
India Now Now
Hong Kong Now Now
Taiwan Now Now
Singapore Now Now
Spain Jan 11, 2012 Now
United Kingdom Feb 1, 2012 Now
USA (+ Lumia 900
“in coming months”)
Jan 11, 2012 Coming Soon
France n.a. Now
Austria Coming Soon Now
Hungary Jan 20, 2012 Jan 20, 2012
Greece Jan 21, 2012 Jan 20, 2012
Portugal Feb 2, 2012 Jan 26, 2012
Switzerland n.a. Jan 13, 2012
Denmark n.a. Jan 20, 2012
Sweden n.a. Jan 23, 2012
Norway Feb 1, 2012 Feb 1, 2012
Canada Feb, 2012 Feb, 2012
Belgium Mar 1, 2012 Feb 1, 2012

More information:
Nokia Q4 2011 net sales EUR 10.0 billion, non-IFRS EPS EUR 0.06 (reported EPS EUR -0.29) Nokia 2011 net sales EUR 38.7 billion, non-IFRS EPS EUR 0.29 (reported EPS EUR -0.31) [Nokia press release, Jan 26, 2012]
Quarter 4 report tables in xls [Jan 26, 2012]
Nokia Names Siilasmaa as Chairman to Replace Retiring Ollila – BusinessWeek

… Nokia investors lost more than 60 billion euros ($79 billion) in share value after Apple Inc. leapfrogged it with the iPhone. Siilasmaa will oversee Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop’s efforts to win customers as Apple and Google Inc. expand into new markets. … An investor in Finnish startups, Siilasmaa may also broker more tie-ups with new companies such as “Angry Birds” maker Rovio Entertainment Ltd.
“I don’t want to leave a fortune to my kids,” Siilasmaa told a panel on startup investment …

Nordic Chairman of the Year 2009: Speech of thanks by Risto Siilasmaa, F-Secure Oyj. [Feb 18, 2010]

Relative to that media reports are very narrow focused as you could even see from the below entries considered the best among them:

Nokia Posts Huge Loss [The Wall Street Journal, Jan 27, 2011]

Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said Nokia’s shipments were in line with expectations. ‘Overall, what we have been looking for is an improvement over the third quarter, and we got that. But while it seems Nokia is on track, there is still a lot more to do,’ she said.

Nokia CEO taps salesmen to assure Lumia push [SlashGear, Jan 27, 2012]

Over the last year when it came to Windows Phone, we saw a lovely looking user interface fall victim to less than stellar engagement and interest on the part of the public – Stephen Elop this week says that it’s the work of the salesmen, not the manufacturer, to make the final drop of the device into the hands on the consumer. Without a doubt there’s a certain flair to the Lumia line of smartphones being released both here in the USA and abroad this year, but without the folks in the stores actually pointing people to the hands-on equipment, there’s certainly no chance of a big hit in the engagement environment. Elop let the world know in Nokia’s sales call what he expects from store employees in the very near future.

Without that final point-of-sale touch, all else will certainly fail, at least that’s what Nokia’s top minds seem to be saying this week. Though the devices are perfectly legitimate in their build and execution, and the advertisements surrounding them may be lovely, there’s always a third step that must be taken. Elop said thusly this week in Nokia’s sales call:

“We need to increase the engagement of the retail sales associates in the stores, because it is the retail associate who speaks with our consumers and puts the Lumia device in their hands. For example, in the United Kingdom, where competitive ecosystems are firmly entrenched, we have seen mixed retail execution around Lumia devices with a range of results among different locations, different chains, different stores and so on.” – Elop

And the comments were mostly supportive of that:

Joseph ParadisModerator1 day ago

I think he has a good point. I had known about WP7 for quite some time before the launch and had already chosen the phone I wanted. The last step for me was going to the store and getting a little hands-on to seal the deal. I had 3 sales reps (from 3 different stores) tell me to check out the Android phones instead (?!). One told me that the Windows OS is no good because its buggy, the other two were just astounded that I was interested in a WP7. I knew way more about the specs of those phones (and a good count of Android phones) than the sales rep. There are a lot of people who I think would like Nokia WP7 phones and other WP7 phones, but kind of go to the store without much knowledge and get carted around by these reps who may have ulterior motives.

Stephens_ElopedModerator1 day ago

I think anyone who is reading a website like SlashGear is the kind of person who probably knows more than the average salesperson in a mobile phone store. Definitely. I’ve had the experience of being “too knowledgeable” myself on many occasion. You stand there listening to false information and you’re either tempted to let it fly, (poor guy didn’t any training) or if they’re douches, you just say, “No, you’re wrong, the N9/L800/L910 isn’t all aluminum, it’s all poly-carbonate, which is a plastic.”

I think salespeople in the States are the worst – they’re so entrenched with Android and iPhone (and also any OEM + WP that ISN’T Nokia), that unless Nokia say, “ok salesteam, here’s a much, much bigger commission for you if you sell a Lumia”, then they haven’t got much chance of changing the mindset of the average American consumer. It’s not a Nokia friendly world here, so they’ve got to up their game. TV ads ain’t nowhere near enough.

CleverModerator22 hours ago

It’s definitely the salespeople who make it hard for WP7 to take off. Phone carriers make their biggest profits from sales of Android handsets and are able to load the Android phones with their bloatware, therefore the sales staff are trained to push these phones over iPhone and WP7 handsets.
Here in Australia our stores are all Android themed and one store in Melbourne has a whole floor called “Android Land”, where phone shoppers can explore and learn all about the Android ecosystem. Now that there are some decent WP7 handsets coming out, I think Microsoft really needs to do three things to get their OS to take off:

1 – Get some handsets out to carriers and stores. Only 1 carrier out of 4 in Australia even sells WP7 devices and they are outdated and you’d be lucky to even find them on display in stores. I think a lot of people would like to by a Nokia N900 but if it takes another 12 months before they even hit our shelves I’m sure we will have lost interest.

2 – Work with carriers to not only sell WP7 devices but to actually push them. Make the devices resonably priced and give carriers incentives in the way of good subsidies to entice them to get their staff to actually push WP7 devices.

3 – Market WP7 so people actually know it exists and know to look for it when they do walk into a phone store. Apart from us tech heads I would bet that half of the population doesn’t even know that WP7 exists. People who don’t know about something are a lot less likely to purchase it. Where are the TV ads telling us why we should be buying a WP7 device?

Dumb salesmen are hurting us – Nokia CEO [The Register, Jan 27, 2012]

Incentivising the McJobs

Analysis Stephen Elop got a pretty indulgent reception from analysts, and most of the press yesterday, after delivering some shocking results. Nokia turned a profit of €2bn into a loss of €1bn in the new boss’s first full year; volumes are down by 29 per cent; sales of the new Windows phone are unremarkable (to put it generously); and Elop has scrapped guidance for the rest of the year. [Summary] News like this would normally have analysts reaching for the panic button – but not today. Why would this be?

Well, obviously, much can be explained by the appreciation that Nokia is in rapid transition – it isn’t even a full year since the Elopcalypse. Elop got the bad news out of the way in his (still) remarkable Burning Platforms memo. But it’s also because he was quite unexpectedly frank and forthcoming about why Nokia isn’t making more headway with its shiny new platform – the one that isn’t burning. Elop explained that Nokia has a very stiff learning curve ahead of it in consumer retail. He also said that sales staff in the channel weren’t helping. He even detailed this country-by-country. I’m surprised more Nokia-watchers haven’t remarked on this – or why Elop dwelled on retail in such detail.

Nokia staff should be glad he did, because of a forlorn sight I saw last November. Just as the Christmas shopping season was getting underway on London’s Oxford Street, I saw a quite ominous sight. The flagship West End Carphone Warehouse store, next to John Lewis, had large posters in the window announcing the arrival of the Lumia 800. There were two live Lumia 800s available for curious punters to play with – of around half a dozen such working retail models from rivals. Except they weren’t live. They were completely dead. And although Nokia had secured the prime corner spot for its devices, it may as well have hidden them on some remote industrial wasteland. The shop was very busy, but nobody came and asked if they could see the Lumia working.

If Nokia is to claw its way back into contention, this won’t do. Getting one million Lumias stocked really isn’t a terrific achievement considering that the six largest European markets had the 800, and some pretty significant Asian markets had the 710. The needle hasn’t moved.

“There are areas where we are learning and areas where we must adjust. First, we are learning more about the variations in our store-by-store retail execution related to Lumia,” said Elop yesterday.

He then re-emphasised how important it was to show people the Windows UI, and suggested that quality of the sales droids was very variable:

“We need to increase the engagement of the retail sales associates in the stores, because it is the retail associate who speaks with our consumers and puts the Lumia device in their hands,” he added, correctly. And he singled out some of the domestic channel here, suggesting he hadn’t been impressed by what he saw:

“For example, in the United Kingdom, where competitive ecosystems are firmly entrenched, we have seen mixed retail execution around Lumia devices with a range of results among different locations, different chains, different stores and so on.”

I know several first-time smartphone buyers and Windows Phone wasn’t even on the radar. People don’t know it exists. In the UK, Android gained an early and enthusiastic foothold, which two years on translates into a mature and knowledgeable market. The Samsung Galaxy SII was the best-selling phonein the UK at Christmas, by some distance. For the average punter a buying decision begins with a binary choice between Apple and BlackBerry, and if it’s a touchscreen then it’s between the iPhone and “one of the other lot”. The other lot is Android. Sales staff in stores like Carphone aren’t uniquely thick – they’re like all savvy retail staff – they want their commission, and they know there’s a huge appetite for Android out there.

It’s a sign of how things have changed. Nokia can no longer play hardball with its channel partners – today, it really needs their help. Windows has made no impression on the market and gaining people’s attention – which includes aligning the incentives of the channel – is going to be much more expensive than analysts realise.

I’m onto my second Lumia, and I like the UI very much indeed. But I still haven’t seen a civilian – someone who isn’t an analyst, journalist or Nokia industry partner – carrying a Lumia in the wild. Have you?

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2 Comments

  1. vini says:

    visit : http://www.buzzsolutions.com for more information regarding retail execution and sales
    force automation.

  2. […] second-tier and white-boxed handset makers targeting the emerging markets [Feb 13, 2012] -Nokia CEO: salespeople to deliver true WP7 retail experience supported by improved product managemen… [Jan 29, 2012] – Nokia’s Lumia strategy is capitalizing on platform enhancement opportunities […]

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