Agents Must Go Beyond IT Staff and Hard Technology Sell

CHANNEL PARTNERS — Over the years, telecom agents have had to evolve beyond selling basic telecom services.

At the Channel Partners Conference & Expo on Wednesday, channel experts underscored the importance of penetrating various levels of an enterprise organization — not just the tech geeks and the CIO. During a keynote Wednesday afternoon at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, executives from AVANT Communications, WTG and other masters and distributors highlighted a theme that rings true in an era of mobile and cloud services: Agents have become a trusted business advisor to their customers.

Susan Penevolpe, vice president of sales for WTG, underscored that channel partners should have an understanding of their customers and their objectives. She indicated that pitching technology solutions to customers before having such a conversation may be putting the cart before the horse.

Are partners’ customers growing, downsizing, or striving to take their business global, Penevolpe asked, and do the companies have the applications, data and systems to support their goals?

“Do they have what it takes in house to support all of those efforts, and most of the time they don’t,” Penevolpe said.

She advised partners help their customers understand how technology can be used as a tool to achieve their business objectives.

“Whoever knows the most about the end customers has the greatest shot of owning that business,” said Kirk Robinson, senior vice president of commercial markets and global sales with Ingram Micro.{ad}

Channel experts underscored the importance of penetrating various levels of an enterprise organization — not just the tech geeks and the CIO.

Avant Communications President Drew Lydecker recommended that partners start the conversations with people within an organization with whom they have successful relationships, such as the IT department. 

The experts also highlighted channel partners’ important role in offering cloud solutions to enterprise customers.

Andrew Pryfogle, senior vice president of cloud transformation with Intelisys, said cloud providers are realizing the value of channel partners in closing complex agreements.

Art Wittmann, vice president of Informa Exhibitions’ (the parent company of Channel Partners) Knowledge & Networking business, questioned whether cloud solutions were less sticky than other services.

But some of the channel executives expressed the belief that cloud solutions offered by a partner can become an invaluable solution for a business, helping to create a long-lasting relationship.

“I’ve never seen anything so sticky to be honest with you,” Lydecker said. If a customer chooses the proper fit for a customer, “the likelihood of them leaving is slim to none.”

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