Portal Power: Micro Corp
e-enables Sales with LDdirect
By Tara Seals
Master agency and reseller MicroCorp Inc. (also known as theAgents-Network) has launched LDdirect, an online initiative that gives MicroCorp agents a customizable website for sales and support of long-distance and wireless services from Sprint Corp., Cable & Wireless USA) and BellSouth Corp. In addition, a partnership with BuyersOnline.com Inc. provides rebates to LDdirect agents’ customers that can be applied to long-distance services.
Under the LDdirect program, based on Microsoft .NET, agents sign up online and receive a web portal. Agents can enter orders, track customer usage, create e-proposals, have online customer care and follow trouble tickets. The site automatically suggests additional products from multiple vendors to cross-sell into the channel partner’s base, based on buying behavior.
For back-office functions, the LDdirect portal ties in with carriers’ web services, pulling from rates databases or tying to an extranet.
The system also facilitates cross-channel collaboration with a unique feature called Interview Wizard that sets up profiles for agents and VARs in the system. As profiles are built, a decision tree-based series of questions creates ad-hoc agreements online, for partners to do business with each other. If a VAR places an order and needs a loop quote, a window pops open asking if that VAR needs a services partner in the area. Partners receive override commissions for business referrals.
MicroCorp partnered with BuyersOnline, negotiating a custom plan for LDdirect. When long-distance customers purchases office supplies at Office Depot via the LDdirect Mall, they will receive cash rebates off purchases, which will be deducted from their long-distance bills the following month. If rebates exceed the long-distance bills three months in a row, customers will receive checks in the next billing cycle. Any rebate a customer may receive will not have an effect on agent commissions.
“In order to manage a distribution channel effectively, you need a true web services platform that seamlessly integrates with your vendors and carriers,” says MicroCorp president Brad Miehl. “We view the key components to integration are in the following areas: marketing, provisioning and customer care.”
MicroCorp expects to launch further enhancements in the third quarter, including a multivendor click-to-purchase tool, and porting of information electronically to carriers, including automatic population of necessary forms.
“The web services platform that we are building enables our channel’s customers to purchase and support multivendor solutions from within a single web interface,” explains Miehl. “This not only provides added value to our channel and end users, but our carriers and vendors benefit by becoming part of a bundled solution that has a much stronger retention component than just selling their products on a standalone basis.”