ChannelVision Magazine May-June 2018

at your service: Xaas “Everybody is saying it, but you have to do it,” says Tim Basa, presi- dent of master agency Telegration and a 20-year-plus veteran of the telecom channel. “You have to com- mit some period of your life to mak- ing the transition.” Few argue the point. Less fre- quently talked about, however, is how agents actually make that transition. But at Telegration, an increasing amount of emphasis is being placed on helping agents do precisely that. “More and more we are teaching sales and marketing to our sales part- ners and working with our suppliers to make sure they can provide us with the assets we need to support the channel,” says Basa. That includes lots of prebuilt marketing campaigns and sales spotlight calls discussing how sales are being made. “We’re not just talking about the technical specs of the solution, but also how you sell it,” Basa continues. While it might be possible to some- times sell XaaS simply on price and cost-savings, such an approach will limit an agent’s success in the cloud. “It’s not about speed, feeds and prices anymore,” says Basa. “It’s about how the Lego blocks stack together; how to combine UCaaS and contact center and infrastructure and all the as-a- service products in a way that is best for the client. It will require a different approach.” Agents are better served if they take the time to get to know a com- pany and gain an understanding of its culture, suggests Basa. “Get to know all the important players on the team and create some sponsorship within the company.” The upside for the agent is a more satisfied customer and the opportunity to pull through additional recurring services over the lifetime of the rela- tionship. “You have to understand their roadmap, or possibly help them build a roadmap,” says Basa. “You have to get a feel for what the customer is trying to accomplish.” That often starts with getting the right people in the room, which can mean not only the buyer but a “buyers table” or committee, often including everything from IT and marketing to finance and c-suite executives. “We talk to our partners about who should be in the room and then who is not in the room once they sit down,” explains Basa. In other words, where- as agents might focus on getting to the “decision maker,” it also can be important to include the folks who actu- ally use the products, such as a line worker, shift manager or salesperson working from a remote location. “The person who is buying a prod- uct might just care about price,” Basa warns. “The person who is using it cares about the benefits and quality of the product.” Of course, multiple heads in a room can lead to head-butting. Consider a cy- bersecurity pitch involving both a chief security officer and a chief financial officer. One says they can’t afford the cutting-edge security and one says they can’t live without it. “So you have to get those guys in a room and in agreement. And that starts with mapping up a sales process,” continues Basa. “Telegration has lots of partners that have shared their pro- cesses with us, and we can communi- cate those.” The good news is, agents don’t need to be experts on all the various tech- nologies or intimate with each point on the customer’s roadmap. “If you don’t know anything about cybersecurity, that’s okay. People still need it, and master agents have suppli- er partners that will help you learn and close business shoulder-to-shoulder with you,” says Basa. “You earn money, your client gets a great result; you’ll learn iteratively and pretty soon will be able to do it on your own.” After all, much of the appeal of the as-a-service delivery model is the abil- ity to pile on multiple recurring servic- es once the door is opened by as few as one service. But in order to navi- gate all the opportunities and options, agents will need to resist the desire to control everything, says Basa, “be- cause our solution providers, they will sell with you.” Agents still need to ask the key ques- tions; open doors; and facilitate the bid- ding process, RFPs and discovery ap- pointments, says Basa. “Then let us rally a team of suppliers around you – suppli- ers that have sell-with programs to help navigate the sales process,” he says. The buzzy term is “channel harmony,” and it’s hard to see agents succeeding in the XaaS ecosystem without it. o MasteringXaaS A gents have heard the warnings all too often. In order to remain relevant moving forward, they must move from legacy telecom sales to cloud-based and as-a-service product offerings, and doing so requires a shift from primarly transaction-based selling to the more consultative, trusted-advisor approach. A master agent’s role in telecom’s transition Channel Vision | May - June, 2018 28