By Rebecca Rosen
The life of an agent can be challenging. To be successful, you must be something different to everyone — a highly responsive expert to your customers, a helpful resource to your prospects, a productive contributor to your telecom carriers, an engaging presence to your colleagues and a friendly professional to your competitors (who may be collaborators at some point). Sounds exhausting! Those roles are intertwined with the work, of course, but they are also the things you must do in addition to the work necessary to sustain yourself, whether you are dependent on commissions or a regular salary.
You must be a certain kind of person to thrive as an agent — with a willingness to work hard being essential. Because, and not to pile on, in addition to all those different roles and the actual sales work you must complete, you also have to keep up on the industry, vertical markets and multiple different providers and products. A high energy level is also important! Putting all this together and making it work can be a daunting challenge … or it can be easier than you thought.
Let’s look at two agents as examples (names have been changed for their protection). Both have years of experience working in the agent channel, established customers, decent prospects and solid relationships with their telecom provider partners. Their profiles are similar, but their experiences are very different.
One is Agent Jim, who likes to handle everything himself — from prospecting to developing customer proposals to presentations to writing up orders to follow up. He works this way because he feels he’s been burned in the past and not received what he needs from the provider, so he feels more in control doing everything himself. He works with a few service providers and sometimes struggles to keep up with the product lines, pricing and intricacies of each provider, so that means he works a few more hours every week to be sure everything is accurate. He is a solid producer and his provider partners are happy with his success. The longer hours are starting to get to him, though, and he thinks there must be a better way.
Then there’s Agent Stanley, who works closely with his provider partners at every step of a deal. He considers his contacts to be friends, not just colleagues; he talks to them that frequently. Most of the providers are willing to help with whatever he needs, such as tracking down pricing to finalize a presentation, training him on new technology offerings or inviting him to events to find new prospects. He is engaged with his partners on every level, from asking for their help and feedback on his performance to offering suggestions about the product bundles his customers need and sharing best practices to help others improve. His partners enjoy working with him and are happy with his consistent performance. It’s a true partnership, and one that saves him time, so he can do the things he loves to do outside of work.
What’s the main difference between Agent Jim and Agent Stanley? This isn’t a quiz; I’ll tell you the answer. Agent Stanley works smarter and achieves the same or better results as Agent Jim (aka the cheese who stands alone), who has to work harder and longer hours. The name of the game is leveraging the tools available to you to be successful. Your provider partners are among your biggest assets. Sure, you work with them every day, but are you leveraging the relationship with them as much as you can? I hope so, but there may be some ways your provider partners can help you achieve success that you aren’t aware of or fully utilizing.