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Win over the local people first. Then fight the guerillas.

Think carefully, Sudhir. When you are fighting guerillas, you have half-won when you have won
over the local people first. The rest is execution. - said Shankar Thapa the CEO of North Eastern
States (NESA) advising Sudhir Roy.
Sudhir Roy recently got promoted as Zonal Sales Manager (ZSM) and was sent to lead the Aimtel
mobile sales team in Tripura. He spent close to 8 years in Aimtel and not only had he mastered
telecom sales operations, he had also developed a good understanding of the cross-functional
synergies with marketing, networks and customer experience. Tripura is a new territory for him,
and he felt challenged by the current situation where the smallest competitor was attacking
Aimtel, the most preferred operator for many years. This guerilla attack by a relatively small
operator had led to Aimtels steep decline in the revenue market share and the year-on-year
revenue growth.
Shankar Thapa, the CEO of NESA circle under which Tripura falls, decided to take this head on.
They are clearly fighting a low-cost, localized guerilla war. By operating under the radar, but
creating impact on the street, they are now garnering very high incremental share. If you do not
stop them within 6 months, they will gain such momentum that will sustain them for another
few years, Under no circumstances will we let our share drop in Tripura. On the contrary, we
will grow it. That is precisely the reason why an experienced ZSM like Sudhir is being transferred
here, he announced to the team during the sales review.
As the meeting ended, Sudhir was thinking, Six months? Does he really mean it or is it just to up
the pressure on the team?
Tripuras population of close to 3.7 MN, second most populous state in North East India with
annual per capita income of Rs. 38,493 as compared to the national average of Rs. 44,345. In
2009, the tertiary sector of the economy (service industries) was the largest contributor to the
gross domestic product of the state, contributing 53.98 per cent of the state's economy.
Speaking of telecom, most of the major Indian telecommunication companies are present in the
state such as Aimtel, Telcel, Vayuphone, Teliance, Eta Indicom, Clue Cellular and TSNL. Mobile
connections outnumber landline connections by a wide margin.
For Aimtel, Tripura is a small territory under the NES2 zone of the NESA telecom circle. Aimtel
entered the NESA market in 2004 and has a great spectrum advantage of 2G on 900 MHz and 3G
on 1800 MHz over other competitors. Also Aimtel is the first operator to launch 4G services in
As a circle, NESA has four zones headed by Zonal Business Managers. NES2 zone comprises of
Tripura, Silchar and Mizoram. Sudhir as the Zonal Sales Manager leads Tripura with a team of six
Territory Sales Managers (TSM).
The Challenge
Traditionally, Aimtel has had the highest market share in Tripura. It is valued for its network
quality and customer experience. Clue Cellular had entered the market only in 2009 and had the
smallest piece of the market share. As on March 2014, Aimtel CMS was 47.2% as compared to
Clue Cellular, which was barely close to 4.4%. Clue Cellular carefully planned an attack and
deployed multiple strategies to increase its CMS. From March 2014 to March 2015, their market
share saw a steep increase from 4.4% to 7.6% and subsequently, Aimtel s saw a dip from 47.2%
to 47%. The monthly gross revenue moved from Rs.168.9 MN to Rs.173 MN for the same period,
which is a YOY growth of 3%. This is much lower than the annual growth rate of close to 17% in
the previous year.
Annexure captures the following: declining CMS, declining traffic market share, declining base
growth, and Clue Cellular s aggression on pricing and networks.
Sudhir delved deep into the matter to understand why Clue Cellular was suddenly doing so well.
He could come out with two important aspects.
One was definitely around pricing. Tripura is bordered by Bangladesh to the north, south and
west and there are 64 BOPs (Border of Posts) where a minimum of 50 Military Jawans are
stationed in each BOP. This constitutes a major STD calling segment which was aggressively
targeted by Clue Cellular. Three hero products were introduced with RC99 (400 local and free
STD minutes pack) being given to all new and old customers, specifically designed for STD callers.
Being a price sensitive market, there was an immediate swing towards Clue Cellular. They gave
RC99 to a huge base for extended periods of time. Aimtel still continued with its earlier products.
It still gave RC97 (Onnet 750 mins and Offnet 250 min) to a smaller base, with reduced benefits
of free minutes. This was clearly a reason for losing customers to Clue Cellular.
Also, over the last two years, Clue Cellular was on a massive network upgrade which was totally
ignored by all the competitors. Clue Cellular almost doubled the number of sites in 2013 and
2014, totaling to 165, whereas Aimtel increased the sites by a much lower rate, with a total of
392 sites, despite having the highest market share.

What should be Aimtels Tripura business strategy going forward?

Should Aimtel attack or defend? What kind of segmented approach would you
Customer Market Share (CMS)

47.7% 7.2% 7.6% 8.0%

6.5% 6.8%
47.6% 6.1% 7.0%
47.5% 5.0% 5.3% 5.6% 6.0%
47.4% 4.4% 4.5% 4.5% 4.5% 4.7%
47.4% 5.0%
47.4% 4.0%
47.2% 47.3% 47.3%
47.1% 47.3% 3.0%
47.2% 47.2% 47.2%
47.0% 47.1% 2.0%
46.9% 1.0%
46.8% 46.9% 0.0%
Mar '14 Apr '14 May '14 June July '14 Aug '14 Sept Oct '14 Nov '14 Dec '14 Jan '15 Feb '15 Mar '15
'14 '14

airtel CMS ClueCMS
Idea Cellular

Oct-14 Nov-14 Dec-14 Jan-15 Feb-15 Mar-15 Mar'15-Oct'14

Aimtel CMS% 47.45% 47.19% 47.29% 47.19% 46.88% 46.98% -0.46%

VODA CMS% 17.53% 17.50% 17.46% 17.54% 17.48% 17.35% -0.17%
Clue Cellular 5.59% 6.07% 6.48% 6.84% 7.25% 7.56% 1.97%
Telcel CMS% 11.59% 11.60% 11.80% 11.89% 12.22% 12.18% 0.60%
Teliance CMS% 5.87% 5.72% 5.59% 5.30% 5.15% 4.96% -0.92%
TSNL CMS% 11.97% 11.92% 11.38% 11.24% 11.02% 10.96% -1.00%

Clue Cellular Base Growth Y-O-Y

9% 9%
9% 9%

7% 7% 7%

Basegwth yoyY-O-Y
Growth industry
Basegwth yoy Y-O-Y

Oct '14 Nov '14 Dec '14 Jan '15 Feb '15 Mar '15
Airtel iCMSiCMS
over Mar'14 Clue
Idea Cellular
over Mar'14

70% 63%
60% 51% 51%
47% 49% 50% 47%
50% 43% 44% 45% 43%
Oct '14 Nov '14 Dec '14 Jan '15 Feb '15 Mar '15

Aimtel Traffic Market Share (TMS)

40.50% 40.2%
40.00% 39.70% 39.7%
39.4% 39.4%
39.50% 39.2%


Oct '14 Nov '14 Dec '14 Jan '15 Feb '15 Mar '15


Clue Cellular Hero Products

RC17 = Onnet@10p / Local@30p / STD@40p

RC99 = 400 Local and STD mins

RC97 = Onnet 750 mins and Offnet 250 min

Site Count No. of sites 2012 No. of sites 2014

Clue Cellular 87 165
Aimtel 308 392