ChannelVision Playbook Volume 8

By Bruce Wirt Not only do agents have to protect their customer bases from competing suppliers, but they also have to protect their bases from oth- er agents that may be positioning themselves as the better option for support. Agents deal with commission disputes, changing market dynamics, continuous tweaks to products and services across hun- dreds of telecom suppliers and, to top it all off, they run the risk of losing all of their com- missions due to missing contractual commit- ments. As an agent, income can vary widely from month to month, and stability is a con- stantly moving target down a long, dark and winding path. So why go into that risky business? Why go into an environment where you lose so much of the control over the customer ex- perience? “Moving from the carrier side to the chan- nel allowed me to work with a variety of solu- tions that I could choose from to generate the right fit for my customers,” said Amy Servis, channel manager at Chorus Communications, a regional master agent in Philadelphia. “I no longer had to fight to jam round pegs into square holes.” But agents such as Servis also understand the associated risks of moving into the channel. “My personal risk came down to moving away from a nine-year stable position with a carrier,” added Servis. “I was heading into an environment where the organization that I was joining never had a channel manager before, and I was tasked with building the revenue stream needed to generate the commissions to maintain my lifestyle.” That is no easy feat when trying to support a family at the same time. Many agents will echo the same sentiment. Often you see agents migrate to the channel after working on the carrier side for a num- ber of years. The change is usually centered around the desire to maintain long-lasting relationships with customers due to the ability to provide best-of-breed technology across multiple telecom suppliers. “After many years of success on the carrier side, I chose to be an agent because I didn’t want to be restricted to a singular product set any longer,” said Mike Dlug, president and CEO of New Jersey-based Stratus IP. “I like being able to listen to a prospect and match their needs with the best carrier fit, instead of Master Plan B eing a telecom agent is no easy feat. Every day is filled with challenges, and although the rewards can be significant, the venture into being an agent is not without risk. “I no longer had to fight to jam round pegs into square holes.” The case for master agent, supplier partnerships 18 THE CHANNEL MANAGER’S PLAYBOOK