Intelysis Nabs Qwest Dealer of the Year Award–Again
By Tara Seals
Rick Dellar and Rick Sheldon, co-founders of master
Dellar and Sheldon credit the designation to Qwest’s commitment to the partner channel, which has weathered mergers and acquisitions that typically tear apart marketing channels. The experience and hands-on strategy Sheldon and Dellar bring to the business of master agency also has helped make them successful.
This is the sixth year in a row the duo’s company has been recognized as a top agency for Qwest and its predecessors, Corporate Telemanagement Group Inc. and LCI.
“I think the interesting story is that there’s a continuum of a relationship from CTG through LCI to Qwest,” says Dellar. “Really some of the same people we dealt with then are who we work with now.”
Intelysis signed its contract in January 1995 with CTG, which in 1996 was bought by LCI, which was in turn was bought out by Qwest in 1998. The corporate culture has remained consistent through the changes, encouraging Intelysis to continue to place traffic there, Dellar says. The agency gives Qwest 60 percent of its business.
“In an industry and a channel that’s not necessarily known for loyalty, this is an example of how companies can integrate their alternate channels when they go through mergers and acquisitions,” Dellar says. “They maintain a collaborative effort and share a common philosophy.
“When we started, CTG really invested in us–we were brand new,” he continues. “Qwest has reaped the benefits of that support and they continue to add value to the relationship.”
One example of that value is Q.Marketplace. Qwest’s March agent summit in Denver, consisting of roughly 250 partners, kicked off the collaborative, web-based “meet and greet” system. It offers partners an opportunity to find each other and bring together their respective core competencies to deliver a full solution to the customer, particularly regarding data and Internet services. It also delivers leads.
“Their roll-out of Q.Marketplace actually funnels leads to agents,” says Dellar. “We’re really excited and have been involved in it, and we’re starting to get leads, and it is creating a viral community that’s a real big commitment to channel sales.”
“Overall [Qwest has] done the best job at helping Intelysis make the pivot from being a voice centric sales agency to being one that really not only understands, but competes and wins in the data hosting world,” Dellar adds.
Despite Qwest’s commitment to the partner channel, Intelysis also can credit its success to a savvy approach to building and maintaining an agency.
Sheldon and Dellar come from direct sales backgrounds, with WorldCom Inc. (then MCI,
www.wcom.com) and Cable & Wireless USA (www.cw-usa.net), respectively. The two did most of the selling without the aid of other employees in that first year. In 1995 agency sales were primarily long distance.
“Our success then really made us realize that this was a viable channel and that we could build a national presence out of this,” explains Sheldon. “So from there we just put all of our efforts into building a national sales force.”
Intelysis began searching for prospective agents with telecom experience under their belts. “We drew a line in the sand, and we made sure we didn’t have 200 people that didn’t know what they were selling,” says Sheldon.
As they honed this small yet powerful sales force, the two were equally careful in their approach to choosing vendors, starting with determining whether they offered good support. “As long as [a vendor] was competitive with price and competitive with commission, it didn’t need to be the loss leader or the low cost leader,” explains Sheldon. “It needed to be competitive, but the salesperson needed to have confidence that their customers would be taken care of and that they would have more time to do what they wanted to do for themselves.”
Dellar and Sheldon view supplier relationships within a “bank account,” nonadversarial scenario. In order to maintain a good relationship, the two believe if they take “withdrawals” out in terms of support, commissions and recognition, they must also make “deposits.”
Deposits can be placing business and giving revenue, and also giving back to the community. Intelysis is an advisory board member for PHONE+, Qwest and AT&T Corp. (www.att.com).
As for its success with Qwest, the bank account scenario has worked in the continuum of three different organizations. The evolution will continue, says Dellar.
But, for a moment at least, he can savor the satisfaction that comes with looking back to where he and Sheldon began. “If, when I signed a contract with a company in South Carolina called Corporate Telemanagement Group, you had asked where would I be six years from now,” he notes, “I would have been hard pressed to think that the little company that won a couple of dealer of the year awards with would evolve into a gigantic multibillion-dollar company, and actually the first long-distance carrier to acquire a LEC, and that we’d be top with them.”