Yesterday the TCA launched "The Voice of the Agent" Webinar Series to provide advice for channel partners by agents. It was good content from the panelists - Michael Bremmer of TelecomQuotes.com; Evan Gillman of TransitBroker.com in NYC; and Jeff Sumner of Corporate Technologies Group. TCA board member, Nick Enger of ATC moderated the panel. [BTW, these are free to members and are archived on the TCA website. They are also free of commercials and pitches usually.]
This morning I was thinking: If I started out today (instead of 1999), it would be a little harder. Back in 1999, BellSouth paid out good commissions. I was selling wholesale DSL coupled with ATM circuits and DIA. The commissions were good enough that I could take care of my clients very well. Hand hold them. Manage the project. Fix bills. Help escalate repair. All of that without any worry because I was being paid well to do it.
Fast forward to today, not so much. 8x8's ARPU is $250. Cbeyond's cloud services ARPU is about $210. Cbeyond's T1 revenue is $653. T1's are as low as $199. Broadband is free with three cereal box tops. At even 15% commission, it would take a LOT of sales to bring in enough revenue to survive. A lot of transactions every week.
And none of these services turn up quick. Sure, T1 and EoC can be done in less than 30 days, but porting of numbers is still a PITA. The copper stuff (T1, EoC, xDSL) should be easy, but with ILECs wanted out of the union game - I mean, copper space - finding good copper can be a challenge. Then there is the inside conduit work to complete the job. Building out fiber can take longer than 6 months (and is never sooner than 120 days). An agent has to wait a LONG time to get paid. And get paid not a lot.
Even the price of bandwidth has come down so low that selling GigE ports of Internet isn't a one per month and you can breathe. It's one per week and you better get hustling Charlie!
And if you want repeat customers, you still have to stay on top of the install, provisioning, deployment, billing and repair -- or they go directly to the carrier, who upgrades them or changes the plan and POOF! you no longer get compensated. It's fun now.
As Cbeyond reported in Q3, cloud revenue is not selling fast enough to replace TDM revenue. I understand that EarthLink has a similar problem. And that problem is with the carrier!!!! Now shrink that to the Channel Partner - and imagine what the day-to-day is like! Yikes!!!