All careers have significant benchmarks: first job, first paycheck, first promotion, etc. For an independent telecom agent, those milestones usually begin with the gutsy decision to leave a well-paying sales job, followed by first customer, first commission check, first commission check that covers the bills, first check toward the six-figure savings you blew through before you started making money, the first $100,000 in monthly recurring revenue, etc.
For Tricia Ward, president of NetSource Group, Portland, Ore., this is a familiar story line. In 2003, her company’s first commission check from master agency Intelisys Communications was $85, but this year, NetSource became the first Intelisys subagency to become a Platinum Partner, having sold $1 million in monthly recurring revenue — an achievement that is believed to be unprecedented in the industry.
“We believe, although it’s difficult to prove, that it’s unprecedented," said Rick Dellar, co-founder of Intelisys, explaining that the company has researched the issue as much as possible with friendly master agencies and its carrier suppliers. And, when the news ran on the Channel Partners’ website in March, no one came forward to dispute the claim.
The story of this achievement is compelling in its own right, but made more so because its chief character is a woman in a industry dominated by men.
The $1 million MRR goal was first presented to Ward and other Intelisys agents three years ago when the master agency launched its Top Performing Champions incentive program, offering rewards for billings at various levels, from Bronze at $100,000 MRR to Platinum at $1 Million MRR. “We put the Platinum [Level] out there with the hope that one day someone would get it," Dellar said, knowing it was a lofty goal.
“From the day Intelisys put it out there, I wanted that goal. I was singularly focused on that goal. … I was a crazy person with that goal in mind," Ward admitted. “I am delighted to be there. Thank God, it’s behind me."
Getting there has taken eight years, perseverance and a lot of self confidence. “I am a big believer in what Tricia Ward can do," she said.
Like many telecom agents, Ward came to the opportunity from direct sales at a carrier after following a circuitous route that began as a purchasing agent at Exxon. Her role in implementing the company’s Rolm PBX got her noticed by the distributer, which recruited her to sell its wares. When GTE purchased the Rolm distributor, Ward had her first entre into the telecommunications space selling data services. She was noticed yet again by US West, whose direct reps were soundly beaten by Ward time and again in competitive bids. She went to work for the Denver-based ILEC in 1994.