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From Agent to Advocate: Redefine the Sales Role in a Changing Industry

The role of the telecom agent is evolving from a purely sales-driven position to that of a consultant. This is especially true as reps break away from companies offering UNE-P and all eyes turn to VoIP, which faces regulatory hurdles of its own. It also is the case now that consumers have easy access to information and often make buying decisions without an intermediarys help. What is an agent to do? The solution is to become the buyers advocate. Agents have to make a case for themselves to clients by being knowledgeable and discerning what customers really need. Speakers Charlie Gillette and J. Scott Levy will help reps do this during the session, Becoming the Buyers Advocate: The Agent Value Proposition.

Gillette is the president and CEO of Knowledge Anywhere Inc., which works with corporations to educate sales forces and channels with online training tools.

Levy, meanwhile, is the director of channel sales for Telecom Solution Center, a company that helps the end user and works with telecom management professionals.

Both speakers emphasize the importance of listening. The biggest issue is understanding what the customers needs are and whos going to make the buying decision and what pains theyre having, Gillette says. Before you can become an advocate you really need to be able to walk in their shoes and understand them.

Clients want customer service, Levy adds. When rates are 2 cents to 1 cent, its no longer about price its about service. And I can assure you that clients are no longer scared about moving their networks. They will jump from one to another quickly.

Levy ought to know. He worked on the telecom infrastructure side for much of his career, before crossing over to work with end users. He tells agents that if they approach potential clients as consultants, not salespeople, they will get better business. Sit down with the client for a change and go through a bill with them, he advises. Help them understand the environment, help them understand what youre bringing to them. … Youll develop customers for life.

Gillette agrees. He also sees training as the foundation of successful consultative selling. The whole relationship is important. Understanding the customer and being able to bring value to them is of top importance, he says. So with that, you need to make sure your people are going through the appropriate level of training…to make sure they bring value to their customer.

For Levy, it will be important to talk about how agents should actively work for the end user. He says if agents evaluate a customers environment and take the time to understand their pain, it will help them be more effective, sell more product and, in turn, create a more long-term client.

Gillette also will stress that agents must seek to ask for and understand customers needs.


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