The most effective way of marketing offshore service delivery to prospective clients is by getting existing customers to talk about their experience, according to the marketing head of India’s second largest software services company.
Sangita Singh, chief marketing officer at Wipro Technologies, said: It is great when are clients are willing to talk to their peer groups. The CIOs at our clients typically get between three to four reference calls every week, and our main selling point is our high customer satisfaction level.
Indeed, Singh said that the usual route for Wipro to break into a new account is via a recommendation from a current client. She gives the example of energy company Transco which announced a $20m SAP applications development and integration deal with Wipro in July 2002, after receiving a positive reference from UK utility Thames Water, with whom Wipro entered a contract in January 2001.
Singh said that the growing competition in the offshore sector is giving the marketing department an increasingly important role within Wipro. As a company, we were not particularly focused on sales and marketing three years ago, because demand exceeded supply, she said. I found myself having to market the marketing department to the board, but we are now seen as a way to help recruit new clients and employees.
Although Wipro Technologies is increasingly pitching for business at major Western clients against global rivals such as Accenture and IBM Global Services, Singh said that Wipro is not adopting their preferred methods of advertising, such as television and airport billboard campaigns. She said: We produce white papers on particular industry issues and get Azim Premji to speak at events such as the World Economic Forum in Davos, which help to raise the company’s profile through thought leadership. We are also sending more informed mail shots and using analytics to ensure that we are targeting the right companies in the right vertical markets.
India’s main software industry body NASSCOM has suggested that the column inches in US and European news services warning of the damaging effects of offshore delivery on local economies has actually alerted more companies to the potential cost benefits of sourcing IT skills from locations such as India. Singh said: It is hard to quantify, but I would say that the debate has helped to attract the attention of CIOs. We are enjoying double-digit quarterly growth, and offshore deal sizes are getting bigger.
For the quarter ended June 30, Wipro Technologies reported earnings before interest and tax of INR 3.33bn ($72m), up 84% on 2003, on revenue that grew to INR 13.2bn ($287m). Excluding an INR 242m ($5m) revenue reduction from the different Indian GAAP and US GAAP accounting standards, sales for Wipro Technologies would actually have grown 47% to INR 13.5bn ($294m). The company said its operating margin was 25% for the quarter, a 5% increase on the same period in 2003, which was due to cost efficiencies and sending more of its work offshore.
In addition to attracting new clients, the second role of Wipro’s marketing team is to attract new recruits The company recruited 3,015 new staff during its first financial quarter ending June 30, taking its total staff numbers to 31,517. Singh said that the attraction of working for Wipro is its investment in training (some 5% of a worker’s billable time is spent in technical training programs), and also said that graduate recruits get more of a chance to travel and work in the US and the UK than they would if they joined the Indian operation of a Western services company such as Accenture.