The CEO of this $1.2 billion Australian telco works hard at simplifying deals to close sales faster

Jordon R. Beesley/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

Back in 2007 when James Spenceley started Vocus, now a $1.2 billion telco, he wanted to make it easier for anyone to do business with him.

He looked at all the road blocks to doing deals and found that most service agreements companies offer to clients are usually filled with long and legalistic clauses protecting the company selling the service. The client’s point of view is rarely catered for.

“I asked our lawyers to set up a legal agreement which was friendly and fun,” he told Business Insider. “I want the first impression to be positive.”

Spenceley was building his sales team and he wanted to use the costly resource efficiently, ensuring maximum selling time and minimum administration work.

“I didn’t want to deploy heaps of my sales people’s resources, their time, negotiating the agreement,” he says.

“If you put 50 different things in the contract that are unreasonable no-one is going to sign up to, except for the guy who never reads the agreement, then that’s 50 things my sales guy’s got to negotiate with you when he could have already closed the sale and be off selling something else.”

Now he has a high hit rate in getting agreements signed. “It’s short and most customers just sign it as it is,” he says. “I love succeeding and I love doing things differently.”

James Spenceley. Supplied

Spenceley is now in the middle of integrating Amcom, a Perth-Based broadband provider, after a winning a battle against TPG Telecom which tried to block the merger with Vocus.

The cultural differences between the two are pronounced, according to insiders, but nothing Vocus hasn’t handled in previous acquisitions.

Amcom is said to be more formal with suits worn in the office while Vocus, headquartered in Sydney, has more of a startup vibe and everyone dresses more casually.

“I’ve never been a fan of suits which is why one of my first internal announcements was to give everyone at Amcom the freedom to wear what they want to work,” Spenceley says.

The merged entity, with 3,000 clients, 600 staff and 20 offices, gives Spenceley a platform to attack the two big telcos, Telstra and Optus.

Amcom has a bigger marketing department. Vocus has three people in marketing team, Amcom has 18.

Spenceley, a BRW young rich lister, is going to need a big marketing department for the next move. The vision is to be the communications provider to corporate Australia, a significant segment Spenceley believes isn’t being served properly.

“There’s no-one there,” he says. “That’s the gap we are going to fill, the strategy for the next 12 months. Get the marketing, the brand and the two businesses together so that we become that default choice for corporate communications.”

To do it, he’s investing in people. He’s always hired people with passion. He sees the company as 600 people all aligned to build a business they will all be proud of.

The key is to create an environment which isn’t bureaucratic and where staff can make a difference. “We’re a business which cherishes logic and the path of least resistance to a good idea,” he says.

He says people want the ability to do their job well and there’s nothing more frustrating than having a good idea and having it quashed because a manager didn’t like it.

“Our number one goal is to become the most-loved telco in Australia,” he says. “That’s our starting point.

“If people enjoy the experience dealing with you they tell their friends, they buy more services from you, they look for ways to give you business. That’s unheard of in a telco.

“Most people in Australia hate their telco. We want to be loved by our customers.”