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Knowledgespeak Exclusive - An interview with Pinar Erzin, Managing Director, Accucoms B.V. - 21 Jan 2008

Q

Can you briefly tell us about the sales representation service offered by your Company? There are other service providers such as Publishing Technology, Inc.'s Publishers Communication Group which offers sales representation services for scholarly and professional publishers. In what ways is your service more competitive?

A

In brief, Accucoms can carry out the sales function of an organization in a single or multiple territories. Our services include managing relationships with existing clients, generating new leads, sales visits, negotiation of site licenses with individual customers and consortia, arranging trial access, following up free trials and representation at key industry events. Additionally we can deliver multilingual customer service and telemarketing campaigns to lapsed and prospective customers in their own language. And we can carry out these functions on a global or regional basis. Alternatively, we can focus on lead generation and the management of smaller accounts, leaving the large account management in the hands of the publisher.

In terms of our competitive edge, I think Accucoms’ service is extremely flexible, depending on each publisher’s requirements. Our customers all have different priorities and objectives and we don’t believe that a “one size fits all” approach is appropriate in this market.

As an organization, Accucoms is extremely results orientated. We take the time to understand our customers’ goals and tailor our services to deliver the results they require. As a company we are very dynamic - it is often one of the first things new customers comment on. Our management structure is such that we can make fast decisions and act quickly as market and customer needs change. We employ experienced and knowledgeable staff based in local territories who understand the market which also gives us an edge. Our language capability, I believe is unsurpassed as we are able to offer our services in several languages. As a relatively new company, there is a tremendous energy at Accucoms and it is an exciting place to be.


Q

In relation to their existing marketing activities, what according to you will be the biggest challenges for publishers in near term future? How can outsourcing to a partner such as Accucoms help a publisher address these challenges?

A

One of the biggest challenges from a marketing point of view is that marketing activity is becoming more and more targeted. Publishers are moving away from mass market communication and instead want to focus on identifying and communicating with the right people. The problem for many publishers is that targeted marketing takes time and technology and many publishers do not have the staff or the tools to carry out this kind of activity. Accucoms has built up an extensive knowledgebase and has the technology to build targeted marketing lists for use in either direct mail or telemarketing campaigns. We also have a team of experienced staff to carry out campaigns in local languages at an extremely competitive rate. And because it is our business, we are extremely effective and deliver consistently good results. The benefit of outsourcing this type of targeted work to Accucoms is that simply, it is a cost effective way of achieving results.


Q

You are just back after attending the London Online conference. Based on your interactions with potential customers there, can you briefly summarise how the needs of customers have evolved in the recent few years? How does your company plan to address these emerging changes in the user requirements?

A

Following on from the fact marketing activity is becoming more and more targeted; building individual customer relationships is becoming more important than it was a few years ago. With more libraries purchasing an all encompassing electronic site license to cover their whole organization, price negotiation, even for fairly small accounts, is becoming normal procedure. Alongside that there are often issues with online subscription activation and set up which never seem to go away. For smaller and mid size publishers, it is actually quite difficult to deliver the level of service that many customer demand - the cost of setting up and managing a multilingual sales and customer service operation is prohibitive for lots of publishers. Coupled with the fact that more markets are opening up within scholarly publishing – Latin America, for example, is experiencing real growth – many of our customers just cannot run a large enough sales and marketing operation to keep up with demand.

Accucoms is addressing these changes by expanding into new markets, such as Latin America. We are constantly gathering market intelligence and building relationships with organizations in each new region we serve and believe that the publishers we represent in those regions are seeing results. In terms of customer service, we are able to deliver customer service in native languages and have the dedicated staff to manage relationships and negotiate price with customers as well as provide ongoing support to them. We will continue investing in skilled staff and infrastructure to ensure that we are delivering top quality sales and customer service to our customers.


Q

Which are the major STM publishers who have lately signed up for your sales representation service? How do you plan to expand your service in the near future? How do you plan to increase your customer base?

A

The publishers we signed up late last year include IOS Press, CHEST and EDP Sciences. In terms of our plans for signing up new customers, we are just going to carry on doing what we are doing and doing it well! We have many existing customers who wish to expand the services we carry out for them and we will be working with them to jointly identify their goals for 2008. We also have many prospective clients in the pipeline and are again working with them to understand their objectives in order to provide the right kind of service for them, so hopefully we will have some new announcements soon! In terms of expanding our service, we have just launched Accucoms (US), Inc. so it will be much easier for us to expand in the US. We also plan on producing more case studies to show how our customers work with us and how outsourcing can really deliver results.


Q

Comment on your company's performance, for the fiscal 2006-07 highlighting major milestones. What are your immediate growth plans for coming year?

A

Accucoms is a young company. We have existed for almost four years and each year we have more than doubled our business and number of clients. There is much energy in our team and everyone in the company has influence on how we run our business. Incorporating Accucoms in the US is a very important development since we will now open an office and grow our sales and customer service team there. Most importantly we will focus on delivering what we promised and growing our current business serving more publishers in multiple territories. I believe that the most powerful sales tool for any company is if your current clients are satisfied with the results and they are happy to share their experiences within the industry. To achieve this we will continue listening to our clients, learning from each experience and improving our services and results, by implementing necessary changes quickly. A company is as good as its people! Our biggest focus will be to continue building a team of talented, energetic and committed professionals to serve the market well.


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