Ten (10) advantages of buying telecom services through an independent agent vs. a direct sales rep
10 Advantages of doing business with an independent agent over a direct carrier sales rep:
Today business have two primary ways to purchase telecom services.
1. Contact the service provider (AT&T, Verizon business, Windstream, etc.) and request that a “direct sales representative” come meet with the customer and provide a proposal for services (Local, long distance, Internet, SIP, VoIP, wireless, etc.). That is assuming that a direct rep will even come out and meet with the customer. Most service providers have structured their direct sales departments to focus on large enterprise size customers ($100K per month in telecom spend). If the customer is not considered to be “big enough” the direct sales person is instructed to either refer the customer to a call center or contact an independent agent.
2. Contact an independent agent and ask that they come meet with the customer. Most independent agents represent multiple service providers. This allows the agent to provide an unbiased (vendor neutral) solution. A good agent will spend sometime learning what the customers needs, and educating the customer on what options are available. Once the agent understands the customers buying criteria he/she can recommend a service provider that best suites what the customer is needing. Here are 10 benefits associated with buying telecom services from an independent agent vs. a direct sales rep.
- The agent has access to the same pricing (or better pricing in some cases), engineers, provisioning team and customer care support that the direct rep has. The agent has access to multiple carriers and can represent a “vendor neutral partner”.
- When an agent interacts with the service provider, they are representing you, the customer; a direct rep always represents the service provider. The direct rep will try to sell you a solution that their company offers, (That is their job) regardless if it is the best solution for you or not, that is how they get paid. Most agents represents over 40 different carriers, and can shop around to find the best solution for our customers. We have no obligations to any one provider; our obligation is to the customer. So agents can truly be neutral in the vendor selection process.
- Agents tend to present the facts of each service provider and let the customer decide (agents don’t try to “Sell” you a solution) typically agents do not have a sales quota to meet; therefore there is no “pressure” from agents for the customer to buy a particular solution.
- Agents offer a direct line to upper management (they often have relationships with VP’s and other senior level management within the carrier)
- When you have a problem or inquiry you don’t have to call into a toll free number and speak to someone who is not familiar with your account, you can call the agent, and the agent will help you.
- Unlike most direct reps, the agent is compensated on an ongoing basis by the carrier, therefore incenting the agent to make sure the customer is happy on an ongoing basis. When the customer has a problem, the agent has a problem. More often than not the direct reps compensation is tied to a one time sale. Once he/she makes the sale, there is little incentive for the rep to follow up to make sure the customer is happy.
- Most carriers have a high churn rate in their sales department. Sales people rarely stay with one carrier for a long time. This is not true for the agent channel.
- Most carriers would prefer to have agents sell and support the small to mid-size accounts because typically 80% of their revenue comes from 20% of their customers (the larger accounts) so they allocate their most valued internal resources to support the larger accounts ($100K+ per month in spend). In fact the agent channel is responsible for as much of the annual sales for the carrier as the direct sales channel. Carriers prefer to have agents sell and support their small to mid-size customers because:
- They don’t have to pay the agents any salary or pay for any benefits
- The agent typically does a better job after the sale with “customer service”.
- It frees up internal resources to address larger customer needs
- The carriers that agents are representing for their clients provide all of the services. Clients typically do not sign a contract with the agent for telecom services. Agent are dedicated to providing you with exceptional customer support and ongoing account management. Agents manage the solution within the selected carrier from the start to implementation. Agents talk directly with the technicians, order writers, testers, engineers and any other individuals involved with providing the solution.
- In very basic terms agents are a FREE extension of your organization. The carriers compensate agents for providing excellent service. The prices the quote come directly from the carriers and are the same as or lower than what you would receive if you contacted the carriers directly.