Are VAR's the New Agent?

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

Are VAR's the New Agent?

The Channel seems to be turning their back on the traditional telecom agent. All eyes are on the VAR space. Even Master Agents are out chasing the VAR's. (For example, Telephony Partners has a white paper out to explain why VAR's should work with a master agent like TP.)

From talks with cable execs, it appears that the traditional telecom agent scares the C-suite at the Duopoly. The fact that AT&T and Verizon are constantly pulling away from the Channel with antics like this and this and this

Usually the reason for this is the corp wants more control over what is sold, to whom and for how much. The traditional agent act of bringing in a bunch of quotes and picking the lowest just rattles most sales organizations. (To be fair, it's not like there is much differentiation or value proposition to allow for a comparison other than price.)

As things move to IP, The Cloud and apps, the thinking is that the VAR is better suited for this new world. Considering that many VAR's stop at the router and only deal with the LAN makes me think otherwise. There's the whole control issue (that both ISP's and VAR's have). VAR's usually run their own boxes and have as much control over that as they can. Moving to the Cloud means less control and more risk.

VAR's don't like the uncertainty of telecom. Having heard or experienced the horrors of on-boarding, provisioning, repair, and MAC's that go with telecom, would you as a VAR want any of that headache to tarnish your brand?

The VAR's are a big ocean of prospect for carriers for two other reasons: they can talk tech with the prospect (while most agents sadly cannot); and the VAR world seems like an opportunity despite that many VAR's already have some kind of telecom relationship as a referral or lead swap or other arrangement.

To me, like everything else, it's going to be a hybrid solution. Mixing VAR's with telecom agents will be the best scenario because telecom is so very different from dealing with IBM, HP, Dell, Cisco or Microsoft. How so?

There are a bunch of user groups for Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, etc. And even partner conference. Each company has co-marketing support departments. Each company has a mature certification program. So a VAR gets a good amount of support from its partner.

Meanwhile in telco, Partner is a misused word. Cableco certainly wants a better handle on the brand in the marketplace and who is selling their services. But which carrier will follow the blueprint of a IBM or a  Microsoft?

Until then, everyone may be courting VAR's just to add to the herd of channel partners selling their stuff.

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