Agencies Analyze Payment Strategies, Offer Holiday Sales Tips

Continuing last months focus on master agents compensation levels, T@G talks with several about the payment mixes that are working well with subagents. Read on for some holiday sales strategies, too, for revving up this typically slower sales season, and be sure to click over to this months Expert Eye for an extended discussion of this topic.

Compensation mixes need to prove beneficial to both master agents and subagents. Each needs the other to survive. For PlanetOne, the answer is to give more established and successful subagents the highest possible residual payout, says CEO Ted Schuman. [And], we find the newer agents like a blend of the upfront money/spiffs and residuals.

Doug Boyce, vice president of finance and sales at Spring Valley Marketing Group, notes that while competitive products at competitive commissions usually win the day, carrier incentives and spiffs can often tip the scales on close deals. 

Telecom Brokerage Inc. President Geoff Shepstone says his company has been paying residual commissions for 13 years. We are finding a lot of our agents are starting to include hardware and managed network services to their orders for a large one-time payout as well, he says, adding, that TBI provides a balanced mix of both for most of its agents.

For World Telecom Group, the most popular mix is an upfront spiff, billing bonus and residual, says Vincent Bradley, president, founder and CEO. While the billing bonus is popular, there are only a handful of carriers have it, he says. Most carriers have spiffs and residuals. The feedback we have gotten from agents about spiffs is that they feel good about getting something within a few months of the sale, to recognize them for their hard work, instead of having to wait until they get a residual on a full month of billing.

Finally, X4 Communications gives its new agents a mix of upfront and residual commissions. Upfront commission and/or bonuses offer[s] more immediate commission until residual payments are received, notes COO Steve Snure. However, veteran agents know that a strong residual commission is what builds their business long term. X4’s goal is to provide a residual commission of 15 percent to 24 percent, and to work for the agent in assisting to build their business.

Building business is key all year round, and is especially challenging during the holidays. Companies often hold off on making more purchases until the new year, and, for master agencies, a number of subs take vacation during the holidays. To that end, master agents often create promotions to boost subs sales. Venicom is one of those master agencies. President Robert Goble says the incentives sometimes target end users and sometimes focus on agents. The programs always have some type of expiration to them to create the urgency to do something during this time, he says. This year we will actually try to take our involvement in the wireless industry and get a piece of the massive consumer segment. Our plan is to market several consumer cellular phones and offer them free with a new activation.

Venicom expects a large number of people to buy the phones and give them as gifts.

Steve Braverman, CEO of X4 Communications, too, notes the difficulty of selling during the holiday season and recommends formulating, as Goble suggests, an incentive for the customer. It can be a free month of service or an offer that absolutely expires on Dec. 31, he says. Its tough this time of year, he adds.

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