AT&T Inc. announced it will continue to favor upfront payments as opposed to residual commission (except for some legacy services), and will begin requiring background checks for its agents, sources close to the company told PHONE+. It also has changed its bonus structure in the agent contract.
In a closed call for partners in the Midwest territory, AT&T representatives said that a new contract for agents will feature a transition to upfront payment. Speakers on the call said the move is a result of feedback from the channel itself, but agents said no formal survey has been taken — and the decision certainly has its detractors. “This could crush smaller shops,” said one agent, referring to the potential for cash flow issues. The agent, who requested his name not be used in reporting this story, added: “And sure, say you get three years of payments right away — but when it comes to renewals, the payments will be a lot less because its been three years since you’ve been paid on that account.”
AT&T also announced its plan to run background checks on all agents, in an attempt to minimize its risk exposure. Any agent with access to AT&T systems will be required to comply. What rankled many on the call, however, is the plan to have the agents pay for their own background checks. “It’s one thing to say they want to do this, it’s another to make us pay for it,” said one agent. The checks cost about $50 per person, which for large sales organizations with plenty of turnover can translate into a sizable expense. “This is a company with a lot of moving pieces,” said another agent. “I understand that challenge. But the more they cultivate the relationships in the channel, the better off they will be.”
In one crowd-pleasing decision, AT&T has altered its performance rewards structure, reps said. Rather than paying bonuses on an annual basis, the company will begin paying quarterly. If a partner makes his or her quota for the first quarter and is paid a bonus, but misses the target for subsequent quarters, AT&T will not implement any chargebacks. Conversely, if an agent doesn’t make, but reaches an annual target in the last quarter, he or she is paid the bonus for the entire year.
“Clearly, there were good and bad portions of this call,” one agent noted.
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