Client Case Study

Accelerating Strategy Implementation

BT Wholesale’s Key Challenges:

Our client, BT Wholesale, is a €5bn, 4000 employee company that provides network services and solutions to communication companies. BT Wholesale’s sales and marketing division – the Markets business unit – partnered with Mercuri Urval to address the following needs:

  • Re-orient employee performance expectations towards the company’s new business objectives, making them more fully engaged in the process.
  • Develop enhanced leadership skills– higher standards, increased performance expectations and stronger strategy implementation.
  • Accelerate sales teams’ success to ensure they are delivering what the customer needs and executing against client’s strategy.

Mercuri Urval’s solution:

Partnering with our client’s HR professionals, business specialists and leadership team Mercuri Urval:

  • Defined and communicated the capabilities needed in the division to exceed business targets and implement a new organizational structure to support it.
  • Guided people within the division to the right roles, while attracting and selecting the best possible talent to the division.
  • Identified staff potential and development needs, coming up with clear and measurable development recommendations for each individual.
  • Laid the foundation for a culture of continuous performance improvement.
  • Worked directly with existing and newly appointed leaders to coach them individually and collectively throughout the change process.



How do you speed up the implementation of strategy? And make sure that business performance is boosted?

When  companies want to redefine the way in which people meet their objectives, the fresh perspective and objectivity brought to the situation by Mercuri Urval proves to be invaluable.

Mercuri Urva was asked by BT Wholesale to accelerate people performance in their Markets business unit, based in the UK. 18 months after our involvement in the program started, positive results were clearly visible, with growing revenues, improved EBIT and higher employee satisfaction.

Building on a strong relationship

Mercuri Urval already had  a long-standing relationship with BT, so when the company needed guidance to revamp the approach of its wholesale division in mid-2007, Mercuri Urval could mobilize speedily and effectively.

The Wholesale division had previously been focused on the nuts and bolts of selling voice and data capacity to other telecom companies. But the company’s management wanted to expand their solution portfolio to include the sale of managed services to its wholesale customers – effectively offering to manage the infrastructure as well as selling the components. This required a more holistic approach within the division in regard to how they serviced their client’s needs.

The strategy was already underway when Mercuri Urval’s expertise was brought in. BT’s human resources team knew they needed a partner to lead the radical change in approach required - a major reshaping of roles, attitudes and performance expectations within the division. Mercuri Urval was the clear partner, given its track record of successfully dealing with such complex people issues, both for this organization and throughout its global client base.

“I wanted another step change in the performance of my sales operation in Wholesale Markets. Impressed by some earlier work Mercuri Urval had conducted in assessing a number of our key sales performers for development and succession purposes I asked them to take on a key people program for us. Working closely with me, my leadership team and HR function, they constructed, managed and delivered a program to enhance the performance of our people.”

MD, BT Wholesale Markets

A complex challenge

Mercuri Urval felt that BT’s relationship with the customer needed to be improved, creating end-to-end accountability, but also that leadership values and communications skills within the division needed to be enhanced. These factors were crucial if the company was to reap full dividends from employees' knowledge of its customers’ needs – otherwise, it would lose out.

As the interface with a company’s clients, sales teams are ideally placed to assess and report back on the customers’ views about what they are being sold – and what they would like to buy, but aren’t being offered. 

Mercuri Urval’s consultants found that, while BT Wholesale’s account teams had been effective at selling the right solutions to customers, they were less skilled at communicating beneficial information to other parts of their own company – and therefore were not leading the organization’s strategy implementation. In addition, the nature of the sales process was changing; more complex and integrated solutions required more evolved ‘C’ level sales competence - and stronger ‘end-to-end’ sales leadership of their customer delivery teams.

Designing an effective solution

“Mercuri Urval shone a light on the dark and difficult corners”

Human Resources Director, BT Wholesale

Mercuri Urval needed to help change attitudes and performance standards within BT Wholesale, so that staff viewed what they did in the wider context of their company’s managed services strategy. This was done by adapting the Mercuri Urval range of specialized tools to provide a large-scale tailor-made assessment and development solution.

  • Who could be a top performer working with the new strategy
  • Who would be suited to the role, but needed more development
  • Who wouldn’t fit in with the new strategy and should have their role re-shaped
  • Who would make the best new recruits for the division at leadership level

Mercuri Urval used psychometric profiling, interviews, ability testing and a number of other techniques to build up a complete picture of the Wholesale division and its people’s capability and potential.  

Senior managers received individual assessments, while more junior staff members went through Assessment Centers which created scalability of our testing. Executives received specialist coaching, while account teams embarked on their own tailored performance improvement and development programs. An integrated team coaching solution was also provided to help the newly appointed leadership team accelerate the needed business change.

“Partnership work with Mercuri Urval has included capability modeling, development, predictive assessment, talent management process and practice. As I would expect from a professional consulting their tools, IP and thought leadership are all excellent, what really marks them out is their ability to apply these capabilities in a practical and effective way. Mercuri Urval is able to understand the complexities in our business but make their recommendations in a simple and clear way that offers value to HR and the line."

Program Lead, BT Wholesale

Getting a complete picture

But Mercuri Urval’s involvement did not just cover what was going on within our client company – we also investigated what BT Wholesales’ customers thought about the relationship. This is a key differentiator for Mercuri Urval as it allows for us to operate in the client dimension and the findings from these customer perception interviews is a source of significant value for our client.

While BT has its own customer satisfaction assessment program, Mercuri Urval was able to add another layer to that by looking at how BT’s services are perceived by its executive level customers.

So, for example, we would ask the chief technical officer at one of the client’s customers, not just about whether they were getting what they needed, but also about the overall experience of working with BT – how could our client transform itself in a way that its customer would see, respect and connect with?

A successful outcome

Mercuri Urval’s input has contributed to a shift in the standing of BT Wholesale, which is recognized as a high-performing operation within the BT group.

Performance distribution within the division has shifted so that there are now more high performing employees and fewer poor performers. Employees have a much greater understanding of the new strategy, they are getting more assistance with their professional development and they are reporting greater job satisfaction.

This has required some tough action.  A drive towards greater efficiency meant some 30 per cent of the division’s workforce left their roles to make way for better matching candidates, while overall staff numbers were reduced by ten per cent.

However, the result is that the telecoms company does not just have more satisfied, better-equipped personnel in the division; it is also reaping financial benefits.

Both revenues and profits are higher – and while our contribution is one of several contributory factors, it is the people who Mercuri Urval helped select and develop that are delivering that improved performance.

Mercuri Urval’s contribution is perhaps best summed up by our client:

"I can see a clear and significant return on investment from our work with Mercuri Urval. As a result of the partnership, we have a stronger sales leadership team, a sharper understanding of our people’s performance, improved managed exits and performance metrics and a more effective talent and development process – that focuses investment where we know we will get a return. All in all our work with Mercuri Urval resulted in significant cost savings – improved performance management, better hiring decisions, more focused L&D spend – and supported us in driving better business performance through better alignment of our people around their strengths, our strategy and our customers.

I would conservatively claim a combined commercial return in excess of 12 times our investment with Mercuri Urval. Most valuable of all though is the positive impact the relationship has had on our people and their long term professional development – including mine!"

MD, BT Wholesale Markets