The Business-to-Business (B2B) market in Colombia makes up more than 40 percent of the total revenue of the country’s carrier companies. Throughout the use of domestic product developers, Colombia’s carriers have also established a variety of standardized, connectivity-based products to fulfill business demands.
The South American country sets high standards for its carriers: all equipment and solutions must be tested and approved by the government, with approval for a single product often taking months, as each function is tested.
Huawei’s Enterprise Business Group (EBG) — one of the few distributors accepted by Colombia’s highly selective carrier market — it has been a key supplier in Colombia over the last 15 years and has earned carriers trust by delivering innovative products and solutions and strengthening relationships with partners and customer.
Approximately four years ago, the country’s carriers decided to more actively involve Huawei’s products and solutions in their standardized products, through one of Huawei’s Value-Added Partners (VAPs) — Meltec Communication S.A.
Established in 1987, Meltec’s core business focuses on wholesale telecommunications distribution within South America and, working together with Huawei and its carrier customers, they deliver high-quality equipment to end-users.
Early Cooperation Challenges
In 2016, Meltec began working with Huawei EBG as the latter’s distributor. The earliest projects were completed by very small specialized teams, collaborating with what was then, Huawei’s relatively undeveloped EBG. Unsurprisingly, at this stage, distribution processes weren’t clearly established and resources were limited.
In that same year, Huawei represented just five percent of Meltec’s total revenue. Today, after four years of the partnership, Huawei accounts for 40 percent of Meltec’s total revenue, with the remaining 60 percent split between 10 other vendors.
But before such success could be achieved, various challenges had to be overcome, sorely testing the cooperation.
Meltec’s commercial department, for example, had to spend an extended period of time studying the ins-and-outs of Huawei’s products and solutions in order to deepen the partnership. Huawei’s products and solutions weren’t mainstream in Colombia in 2016, so the commercial department developed new skills to sell products and solutions to domestic carriers that hadn’t been seen in the region before. Marketing department also adapted the message with a new valued added proposition for these new markets, product and services.
And it wasn’t just Meltec’s commercial and marketing department that faced challenges adapting to its new partner: the entire company had to adjust its internal processes for the partnership to be a success.
A Developing Partnership
As a distributor, Meltec invested in training its engineers and owned its position as Huawei 4-star Certified Service Partner (CSP). As the partnership became more successful however, and as cooperation and dedication increased, Huawei suggested that Meltec should further develop its relationship by becoming a Huawei VAP: this would be a way for Colombia’s carriers and end-users to receive greater support, at the same time allowing Meltec to provide its customers with more services, ultimately increasing the company’s profit margins.
Indeed, this change in the relationship benefited both: Huawei gained an additional VAP, and Meltec was able to increase its service offerings and profitability. And the partnership was far from one-sided: Meltec quickly helped improve Huawei’s B2B solution delivery.
Although Huawei had 30 years of experience in delivering carrier solutions, its B2B experience was limited. So, although somewhat of an unknown quantity, for Colombia’s carriers, it was a relatively easy decision to include Huawei — a clearly experienced solution provider — in key infrastructure projects. But for projects in which carriers were reselling to B2B, Huawei’s lack of experience was an obstacle.
With constant effort from both partners, Huawei’s B2B market share did begin to grow. Huawei’s regional partners — including Meltec — regularly provided carriers with equipment recommendations, based on the technologies they had used themselves, as well as the company’s previous knowledge and experience.
How Did the Partnership Work?
The first step to success required Huawei and Meltec to research carriers’ most frequently sold equipment, identify carriers’ needs and requirements, and structure its products and solution portfolio accordingly. After that, both teams approached their carrier counterparts, armed with a wide-ranging portfolio. Carriers first tested Huawei’s products and solutions then later approved them for use. At this point, Meltec was also involved to ensure the entire portfolio met the country’s specific high standards.
Huawei supplied Meltec with the equipment most commonly used or re-sold by carriers, to be stored in local warehouses for quicker delivery to carriers as well as other customers. Using this stored inventory, Meltec was able to fulfill delivery times much quicker than before, and therefore could also receive payment much faster. Additionally, Huawei guaranteed that its price would remain “unbeatable,” to further ensure Meltec’s market competitiveness.
In 2018, Meltec became a Huawei EBG VAP and the business group’s most important partner in Colombia.
The two companies furthered their cooperation by signing a supply contract for carrier B2B standardized solutions, named Material Requirements Planning (MRP). The contract outlined a daily equipment supply rate, which was defined according to carrier re-sale requirements.
How Was Business Growth Achieved?
By October 2019, Huawei had already grown its business by 91 percent (compared to the whole of 2018), largely attributable to the core values that it had stuck to.
• Customer first: Both Huawei and Meltec placed customer satisfaction at the forefront of their business model. It didn’t matter which company distributed the equipment; both Huawei and Meltec understood the importance of customer satisfaction.
Meanwhile, to ensure that customers received the best service possible, both Huawei and Meltec demonstrated respect to their partners and competitors, kept their promises, and made concerns known when they arose.
• Dedication: Both companies assigned dedicated teams to handle the carrier business, and built deep relationships with customers and key distributors.
Huawei and Meltec’s dedicated teams proved essential: carrier-distributor relationships were built; challenges were solved; and open, collaborative communication channels were formed. These dedicated teams were headed by Huawei’s B2B director (who was responsible for the account channel) as well as Meltec’s carrier account manager and Huawei’s brand manager.
• Constant improvement: Meltec strictly followed the improvement guidelines set by Huawei’s teams. The guidelines suggested focusing on one product first, providing weekly forecasts, and holding biweekly follow-up meetings.
Both companies remained up-to-speed with each other’s business challenges by holding additional biweekly meetings that coincided with customer-satisfaction meetings, where they discussed the distribution status of customers and overall service satisfaction. Such open, two-way communication provided both companies with the control and clarity needed to improve distribution policies and efficiently manage the distribution business.
• Open and resourceful: Meltec and Huawei constantly innovated products to help support carriers and customers. Meanwhile, Meltec was always looking at ways to increase Huawei’s channel participation and employ the resources at their disposal.
Meltec frequently promoted Huawei’s products and solutions in other projects, to improve the equipment’s visibility and increase its MRP demand.
• Integrity: Both Meltec and Huawei recognized that trust is the most important value in a successful partnership.
Even when facing challenges at the very start of the relationship, Meltec remained steadfast and, soon enough, its profit margins increased, proving that the company’s trust in Huawei hadn’t been misplaced. Today, the partnership’s success has meant that many more companies are actively looking for ways to work and cooperate with Huawei.
• Teamwork: The remarkable business growth seen in 2019 was only made possible because of the collaboration and teamwork of both companies.
Crucially, both companies remained constantly aware that making customers happy — reducing distribution processing time — was by far the most important aspect. And it wasn’t just Meltec and Huawei involved in collaboration. Carriers played their part, too, understanding that both Huawei and Meltec needed their support to efficiently meet distribution requirements.
In 2020 and beyond, Huawei plans to apply similar working models to other carriers with Meltec. This involves using team building to introduce Huawei’s account, channel, channel account, and channel brand managers to partnerships. It also means focusing on localizing business processes, and aligning business processes with carriers.
Carrier business is a two-way street: Huawei supplies its partners with excellent cost-efficient solutions to compete against regional competitors, and it relies on various partners — such as Meltec — to open up new business opportunities to ensure business growth reaches new heights.