VoIP Providers in the Channel

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

VoIP Providers in the Channel

Bandwidth.com just disbanded their agent channel. Other VoIP providers have done that as well.  And I hear some complaints about the cable company indirect channel programs.

The problem isn't the Agent Channel. The problem is the Channel Program design. 

You have to design a program that will work, folks.  You have to train your agents on the benefits, how it works, how it will be implemented, and how to sell it. You have to have a USP or marketing message that the salesperson can grasp and re-use. 

You can blame the agents, but most times companies don't spell out who the target prospect is and how that prospect will benefit. VoIP is not a replacement service. And you VoIP companies have over 1000 competitors all saying the same thing. It's like trying to differentiate between CLEC integrated T1's.

There's is also the whole compensation issue. Maybe you aren't paying enough to make it worthwhile for the agent. Again a VoIP sale is longer than a TDM sales and there are inter-operability and implementation issues to deal with, especially for PBX replacement.

There's a bias towards having a direct sales team in telecom. That bias is due to the huge expense - the office space, desks, laptops, utilities, cell phones, benefits, salaries and management structure. If you examined your direct team the same way you examine your indirect channel, you'd likely fire that division as well. Personally, I would put up Agents against AE's any day. I can pick 5 and outsell your direct team all day, any day - with less churn.

By the way, did you examine the channel sales process? How hard was it to get a quote or a sales engineer or a contract? What was the time from contract to install to commission check? All this will play into it. You look at AT&T's Channel sales process and it's just too freaking painful. 

In Internet Marketing, you can analyze the sales process to find out where the hurdles are, where the shoppers drop out. Is there a process in place to figure out the sales hurdles in the physical world? Do you track any of it?

I've been in the VoIP space since 2004, so many companies have imploded; not delivered; messed up; changed things again and again. With this kind of history, it gets more challenging to find agents willing to bet their business on it.


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