TBI, CenturyLink and the Art of the Big Deal

By Khali Henderson Comments
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"The big deal was the icing on the cake," said Jim Glackin, CCA's area vice president for the Central Region and TBI liaison. "They were going to get this million-dollar check even without this big deal. That to me is the key. You’re lucky to close one big deal, but TBI knocked down big deals all of last year. ... It's a continued pace of large deals that we are doing because these guys have established some real competence around this."

Indeed, Shepstone said the tipping point for enterprise customers to sign on the dotted line was TBI's demonstrated ability to manage a rollout with thousands of locations. "Everybody wants to save money, but what often keeps companies from making the move [to another carrier] is the fear and uncertainty of what that move is going to be like," Shepstone said. Service interruption is high on the list of gotchas that can cost tens of thousands of dollars a day in reduced productivity and lost sales, plus the incalculable risk of damaging customer relationships.

CCA's Glackin agreed. "The big deal would have never happened without it," he said. "There's no possible way. ... I've never seen a 'rip and replace' like it, especially on that scale. I think it was because the customer felt comfortable that all the resources were in place to handle it."

Among its 150 employees, TBI has a team of people — project managers, engineers and administrative — that manage controlled rollouts, including processing LOAs, entering orders, validating inventory through customer service records, manually removing PIC freezes and more.

The team started three years ago with 10 people reallocated from the agency's call center after its first big deal billing more than $100,000 per month. With one large-scale deployment under its belt, TBI has continued to grow the team to handle increasingly bigger deployments and several at once. Today, the team includes 10 people full time and with the ability to reallocate 20 more from the inbound call center to achieve scale. In addition, the company continues to hire people to increase its capacity. 

While TBI is a proven post-sale powerhouse, it also had chops in pre-sales consulting and engineering, which it has put to use in helping its sales partners win and grow large enterprise deals. Case in point: TBI's second largest deal, which is billing $650,000 per month.

Mercer said TBI worked with the channel partner and the customer to review and revise the business technology recommendations, growing what initially was a $100,000 deal sixfold. What began as IP connections for a few locations became an MPLS network reaching across the company and out to its rural locations, Mercer said.

"We're talking about the entire scope of what the customer's trying to do," said Mercer, explaining that includes coaching sales partners on network design and road maps. That technical expertise extends to vendor selection; understanding the carriers' footprints, products, strengths and weaknesses helps TBI make the best recommendations to reach the customer’s business goals.

Ultimately, what sets TBI apart is its ability to deliver on both the consultative and scale requirements of large enterprise customers. And, that's a big deal.

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