The VAR/Agent Comparison

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

The VAR/Agent Comparison

At Channel Partners Expo in Orlando for TCA. Our first member networking event last night went very well with a good sized crowd. Today we have the TCA's 6th Channel Chief Summit with guest speaker John Zanni of Parallels.

The top Channel executives and even the bigger Master Agencies are all chasing VAR's. And this show is so cloud themed an agent would be hard pressed to find a telco element, which I think leads to less Agents, but perhaps not more VARs, since they have their own shows, including DreamForce this week.

While taking with one channel head, he mentioned that the numbers guys always want justification to continuing paying on that line item called commissions. What does an Agent do that a direct can't do? It is this thinking perhaps that leads to VAR - value added reseller. The Channel would like more value add from Agents. Supposedly. But do they really?

I think not. For example, when I was consulting heavy for about 14 months, the number of quotes that I asked for dipped a lot. Many channel execs asked WTH?  So they still have quota out gunning value.

Recently, a CLEC, who purports to have a big fiber network, wouldn't quote out a GigE fiber route for a consulting client. It was not a price issue. We were creating two diverse physical routes to Atlanta to two different data centers. This CLEC had the west route. They didn't quote it, but their Carrier guy showed up and sold it. So how was I not adding value?

I have news for the CLEC's and Cablecos: VAR's don't have these issues with their vendors. You want to compare VARs to Agents. Well, let's compare Carriers to other Vendors.

I was a VAR for three years. HP, Intel, Microsoft and Novell NEVER snaked a deal on me. CLEC's - as often as they can - and ILEC's even more often.

I never worried about commissions selling hardware or software. Why do you think VAR's want upfront? No need to track the commissions - and no holding it over company as Damocles' Sword.

Also, Cisco, Novell (at the time) and Microsoft are household names. It is easy to recommend household names.

So the next time you want to compare the two channels, maybe look at how carriers are different from vendors.

During the recession, I was at a Tech Data/Cisco event in St. Pete, where Cisco basically told their Gold Partners that they would help them through the economic slump. Cisco paid for audits for a year, so they would have data for when the economy came back and companies needed to refresh hardware. Cisco made certain that its partners wouldn't fail. Have you ever heard of a carrier doing that??

The problem that I have seen for 13 years (with a couple of exceptions) is that while the carriers talk about Partnership, it is mainly talk to get the unpaid sales force to sell their stuff, but when HP, Xerox, Cisco or Microsoft say partner, they mean we are in this together and we will help you succeed, because when you succeed, so do we.

Final note: if you want more value from Agents, where are the webinars or courses on network design or VLAN structure or Hosted PBX deployment?

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