PHONE+ Readers Provide Feedback From the Field

There’s always a channel conflict with any vendor that has direct sales force. How that conflict is managed separates great channel carriers from poor ones.

— Jeff Ott

AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ) and Embarq will not work with channel partners. They have house account lists and if they allow a channel partner to help the client, they reduce your commissions by up to 50 percent. They feel their resources justify this policy. In my opinion, the largest carriers have done nothing to embrace channel partners.

— Brian Miller

Direct vs. agent should be transparent, as long as both sides exhibit proper ethics: share pricing adjustments, present professionally and let the buyer choose with whom they prefer to have the relationship. Agents generally win 80 percent of the deals, anyway, stressing their positions as independents with longevity. Sometimes splitting a deal with another agent or direct rep can earn you more dollars over time, if the value is there to join forces. Don’t be short-sighted; I’ve seen more deals feel apart because of greed.

— Gary Eisenberger

I have yet to see a program where everyone is comfortable with the process and rules of engagement. Agents can’t get their accounts protected like the direct side, which doesn’t give you a warm and fuzzy feeling about bringing in the direct side. You usually only do it when you must or it’s required.

— Ted Schuman

I know if we had access to carriers’ provisioning portal, things would go more smoothly.

— Bob Morrison

If channel partners had to write their orders into the provisioning portal, things would run more smoothly because the orders would not be accepted until all necessary information had been provided.

— Dale Schneberger

My answer is split. Some carriers now do an excellent job of provisioning, because they’re studied the process and optimized their approaches. We also have carriers who still struggle with provisioning, which is unfortunate, because a poor provisioning experience leads to an angry customer and a short relationship with that customer.

— Adam Edwards

Three years and 6,000 users later, we think so!

— Joe Gillette

The success or failure of hosted VoIP as well as any true VoIP application is still dependent on the bandwidth as well as the last mile provider. All the QOS in the world cannot compensate for a provider that is over-subscribed. TDM is still at a major advantage in today’s market.

— Ron Bornstein

TDM has the advantage; cable has the backbone and is going to rip AT&T apart if AT&T doesn’t hit the ground with some major price changes. Customers are willing to sacrifice quality for price in the five line market, but I still think VoIP has some fine tuning to do when it comes to stability.

— Robert Davis

Hosted VoIP has come of age for the five-to-50 employee small business market. With five nines reliability coupled with low deployment and support costs, VoIP’s advantages are becoming more clear.

— Andrew Skafel

Whoever has the best relationship with the decision maker. If neutral, the data VAR and interconnect/dealer win when the customer falls within their core competency. Generally speaking, the telephony agent winds due to broad expertise and the consulting/outsourcing aspect.

— David Goodwin

Any experienced carrier-neutral consultant will prove themselves very valuable to the business entity. The client had already experienced the handoff of at least three telco reps over the past year.

— Ron Borstein

The only chance dealers and interconnects have for survival is to adapt — and adapt now! They often have great relationships with their clients and will maintain a good-to-excellent chance of closing new business and retaining existing business as long as they adapt by adding IT-related services and products into their portfolio of offerings.

— Bill Taylor

The vendor or consultant with the most friends wins! Your track record for always being there and being honest wins in the end. When it is time to spend the money to solve the problem, they believe you!

— Ed Bernstein

Fixed mobile convergence will combine both the power of the network and the power of the PBK directly to the handset.

— David Blau

I have gotten more interest and positive feedback from our customers about the advantages of VoIP than any other.

— David Goodwin

To me, mobility — the iPhone and other smartphones — are the wave of the future.

— Peter Radizeski

I think software as a service (SaaS) can be applied to any of these apps and technologies, since it’s really just a new way to bill the client in its simplest form.

— Dany Bouchedid

Renewals are typically more successful if worked jointly — at least from a master agent perspective.

— Ted Schuman

It really depends on what kind of “help” you’re referring to — help in managing when clients we have activated are coming out of contract, assistance in performing the transaction (for VAR reps who are road warriors) or even calling clients to clarify something on an order are all fine. If the master agent is unwilling to do anything involving direct contact with the client, it can add hours and even days to the completion of an order. Collaborative efforts should be made when it benefits the client and the subagent. The master agents should be willing to support the subagents in whatever way necessary to maximize the selling model.

— A.S.

Typically, we prefer to work renewals ourselves, since the agent usually has a working relationship with the customer. In addition, since pricing can affect commissions, we prefer providers not offer a customer some new pricing that may reduce commissions without first discussing it with the agent. If a provider is going to be involved, we definitely prefer them to work back through the agent to the customer.

— Scott Hailey

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