Agents Need to Morph into a VAR

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

Agents Need to Morph into a VAR

It is getting tough out there, as the news keeps repeating as nauseum.
Businesses are laying off and closing. If you can maneuver in this environment, then opportunity awaits. No I haven't been drinking. Let's examine things.

Layoffs means companies have to be more efficient and more productive with less. What does that mean? Technology needs to be applied and work.

Budgets for travel are slashed, but people still have to connect/communicate.

Legislation is in place forcing IT teams to work harder.

The message is that Unified Communications can save you. So can Tele-Presence, Video/web/audio conferencing, hosted email, SAAS, VoIP/Hosted PBX, and that over-used term "managed services".

If the IT staff is short handed, but still has to do data storage, email archiving, and other DR/BC and regulatory processes - it can be outsourced.
And you can sell it. Gartner just did a paper on Hosted Email which spells out the Return on investment for using Hosted email. IBM Lotus, Microsoft Office, and Google Apps are looking for VAR's.  What's a VAR? An agent that stepped up.

At a VAR Kick-Off meeting, Cisco emphasized touching the customer. The box got them into the client with switch and router sales. Now the trick is to upsell the out-dated boxes and to add security modules to as many sales as possible. That's the Upsell. After security, comes VoIP and Collaboration (Webex, Web 2.0, UC). Cisco has designed the sales road map for its VAR Channel.

Do you have a road map, sales flow chart or other process in place to help your agents move from selling transactional services like DSL, cell phones, POTS, PRI, Integrated T1 to complex sales like Hosted PBX, Metro Ethernet, and Managed Services like firewall, backup, intrusion detection, DDOS Defense and SAAS. Remember, SAAS is the bucket that Hosted PBX, Secure Email, and Hosted Exchange fall in.

To become a rainmaker, you must make a fundamental shift in thinking from:
"How can I close this sale?" to "How can I create a relationship that will benefit the customer and my company in the long run?" 

There is a lot of buzz about recasting and renewing. Should agents be paid?
Should carriers grab that renewal?  This would not be an issue at all if you owned the relationship with the customer. By owned I mean that you are providing the client with enough added value that he wouldn't want to go direct to the carrier. I always explained it that I was the Outsourced Telecom Provisioning department. I am the go-to guy for any questions about telecom (and by extension IT). Don't you want to be in that position?

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1 Comment

Peter, you are right on the money. To quote:

"Layoffs means companies have to be more efficient and more productive with less. What does that mean? Technology needs to be applied and work. "

Many contact centers I deal with daily are looking for technology that makes their agents more productive and quickly. The problem often though is, the agents are using 3, 4, 10, 15 or more desktop applications for just one customer calling in! This makes them and the customer frustrated. How did we get here. So many un-integrated desktop applications, all working in their own silo and requiring massive manual processing to navigate. However, Desktop Integration technology exists to eliminate this problem once and for all. It's take a while getting here but it's here. A recent customer, deployed to 15,000 desktops in just over 3 months, soup to nuts. The saving on AHT? Just around $20m - and that's just the first project!

Anyway, point well made but lets make what we have work better first and then look around at new technologies (that will quickly integrate with what we already have). Desktop Integration is with us now.

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