The Transformation of Telecom Advisors – Part 2
Transformation leader: Dan Vidal, Managing Director
Number of employees: 5
Year established: 2002
Original transactional business model: Telecom agent/subagent
Post-transformation business model: Consultant/“trusted adviser"
How did you make the transformation away from a transactional business model?
I love this question because you did not ask “what" did we do to make the transformational change, but instead you ask “how" did we do it and the distinction is very crucial. First and foremost was the deeper level change (call it spiritual, emotional, attitudinal, etc.) that had to be honored. We made a real commitment to ourselves that we would continue to be the best in service to our clients no matter what the change looked like both in progression or in result.
We knew (and still know) we would make mistakes and make adjustments at times. In fact, we’re fairly confident that change and renewed transformation will always continue to come, as we believe change is a true constant. In other words the “what" we do for (or sell to) our clients is important, yes, but not nearly as important as the “how" we do it. Starting from that place of commitment to get it right for our clients is the spirit of service that defines us in this business. That’s the real essence of the “how" we do it.
So that was the real common thread that had to remain solid throughout and led our own transformation. Our core values and mission have been consistent since our company was founded … and we knew that we actually had to be even better during the painful process of transformation. We had the recognition that this culture not only would be at the forefront of our transformation, but would actually lead the transformation itself. The rest are just the details that will vary from person to person and company to company.
But I won’t leave you hanging! For Telecom Advisors, some of the transformational details are as follows: We explored the possibility of hiring new people vs. partnering/outsourcing some of our functions to grow properly, and maximize our strengths and time. We chose to partner for this. We’re not opposed to hiring, of course, at the right times, but so far the partnering/outsourcing is working well. I would guess it might be slower and really requires the right partner, but it’s also less risky financially, more scalable and has more overall potential, in our view.
We also decided that we would become a provider ourselves in certain professional and managed services. One example is a full telecom life cycle management and help desk service. This allows us to offer services directly to our clients — and have a direct relationship that cannot be “trampled" by carriers paying us commissions. We own the paper. This has actually grown our “traditional" agent business/commissions as well, but also made us much stickier with our clients and put us more in a position of control with the client. We’re their trusted advisers in telecom as if we’re an extension of their IT staff. We’re not viewed as a vendor but rather as a partner. That’s probably the biggest winning result of this transformation for us. In this aspect we also found the right services and partners to deliver … behind the scenes. It’s not just one size or partner that fits all. This is also a combination of in-house capabilities and existing (and new) supplier partnerships as well.
In addition, we have found certain niche providers of really complementary, business-critical services to partner with that allow us to have different and often higher-level conversations with clients and prospects to separate us from the pack. Again, [it’s] the partner vs. vendor relationship thing. One example here is a true/full voice disaster recovery service. So we’ve become part of the BC/DR team with our clients. As we continue our transformation now we’re focused on execution, measuring results, adapting and, of course, having some fun along the way.