Its About Time for an Agent Association

By Khali Henderson

This week you’ll be hearing about a new organization, the Technology Channel Association. It’s an effort by a few of your peers to bring the agent community together. I have to say, it’s about time.

The agent channel has been around for at least 15 years. The Channel Partners Conference & Expo is 11 years old. What have you been waiting for?

To be fair, there have been efforts along the way to organize agents. Certainly, the Agent Alliance has done a good job of that for its members – the handful of them that form the closed networking and buying group. If you’re not in that club, where does it leave you? There’s TelecomAssociation, which has tried to fill the gap. It’s a for-profit entity, however, which colors its mission regardless of the value of its programs, such as news, education, forums or vendor benchmarking, for agents.

The TCA, on the other hand, aspires to be a legitimate, not-for-profit entity for the promotion of the indirect sales channel. It’s early days for TCA, but it hopes to advocate the indirect sales channel as a viable and sustainable alternative to the direct sales channel.

Among the deliverables will be a knowledgebase of best practices to help agents (and their vendors) succeed. TCA also hopes to gather the evidence – market data and metrics – that quantify the impact of the channel on the overall success of the industry. Finally, it plans to develop a certification program for its members.

These types of programs will require the participation and support of agents and their suppliers. Both in the end will benefit. Vendors will get better indirect sales representation. Agents will get a bigger share of the vendors’ overall sales.

Once there is agreement on standards and metrics and practices, then the opportunity to address the end-user community is an obvious next step. The most qualified indirect sales rep mostly likely will be the most qualified solutions provider.

Standards of practice rarely are a bad thing. They raise the level of professionalism. It’s hard to be against that.

Plus, there are some really great agents behind the effort. Geoff Shepstone, Vince Bradley, Ian Kieninger, Jack Knocke, Dany Bouchedid, Peter Radizeski, Shane McNamara, Jay Bradley … you get the idea. So sign up for the association. We did. PHONE+ is a founding member and media partner.

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