3 Weatherman and an Agent

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

3 Weatherman and an Agent

cloud.jpgAt the CPExpo last night I was a panelist for the CPZ, an experiment in doing a talk show at the expo. It was 100 invitees, an open bar and 5 panelists in front of the camera - Khali Henderson, Dave Stewart of Simple Signal, Larry Walsh of the 2112 Group, John Siefert (CEO of Virgo), and me. It turns out that Siefert is a VAR (?) or works with VARs, so it was 3 cloud guys and me.

We started with the theme of the show: Is this the end of Transactional Agents?  The truth is that while the runway may appear to be running out, telecom is mainly an arbitrage business made up of me-too providers, who will extend that runway for a while longer.

Take the case that Bells no longer pay commissions on POTS lines. There are 3 CLEC's that do: Granite, Ernst, MetTel. So agents can continue along on their path of selling DSL, POTS and T1.

The question of Energy came up. It was poo-poo'ed by most of the panel and some of the audience. However, energy falls under the transactional model and LD-POTS guys can still make a living adding Energy brokering to the mix.

I don't understand why the cloud guys are so upset that agents have not jumped on the bandwagon. VAR's haven't either. And despite how often cloud guys yell "Sell my stuff!", it will likely not have an impact.

The topic of InterNAP killing off agents with evergreen contracts came up. Siefert said that's just business, missing the point that if agents do NOT respond to this aggrievance it is likely to happen again and again.

I had to point out that the big name in cloud, InterNAP, just screwed a bunch of agents - and the cloud panelists wanted agents to go cloud. DUH! VAR's and Agents kind of aren't to certain about cloud - where they fit; where they make money; and which providers will survive the first wave - but a big name in cloud just wiped out commissions and you think the channel is going to run faster at cloud??????  Maybe you don't understand how the channel business works.

One point made by Siefert was that things are changing and the channel needs to change too. As a magazine exec, I guess he would understand that business models need to change, but no one changes until they forced to.

So while the weatherman (as I call cloud guys) want to force the agents to cloud, I ask how you push a rope?

It would be best of the cloud providers did 3 key things:

Be a Channel Champion. Not just lip service but seriously champion the Channel, like the current crop of TCA Vendor members.

Have a clear Value statement. In the days of Integrated T1, there was no differentiation between CLEC Int-T1 offerings. If you as a service provider do not espouse your value proposition clearly and concisely, one will be assigned to you (and you won't like it).

Concretely explain sales triggers for your service. Where exactly is the best fit for your service? How would the agent lightbulb go off upon hearing a keyword from a prospect? What makes the best lead for you? What to ask the prospect to qualify them?

If the cloud (and the rest of the carriers) want the Channel to become better Trusted Advisors, they will have to participate in the education of the Channel - not just about your stuff and selling your stuff. Until the Channel gets better educated -- and the cloud provider mature -- it will just be the early adopters that sell cloud.

Overhead at the show: There's about 8 guys selling collocation in the nation!

As I leave Chicago to fly to Florida through Hurricane Irene, I want to leave you with this tune: The Dog Days are Over!

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