How to Make Agents Great Again

Superhero Businessman
Channel Partners' Lynn Haber

Lynn Haber

**Editor’s Note: Register now for Channel Partners Evolution, Sept. 25-28, in Austin, Texas.**

What agent doesn’t want to be great? And how many believe they’re already at the top of their game? Well, they may not be because the game has changed — as have the rules they’re playing by.

So, in a concurrent education session – What Makes a Good Agent Great – at the upcoming Channel Partners Evolution Conference & Expo,Sept. 25-28, in Austin, Texas, Patrick Oborn, co-founder of master agent Telarus, will provide some insight on what it takes to achieve greatness. In a nutshell, he says that agents need to understand that they’re not selling technology and services anymore — what they are selling is an experience.

Telarus' Patrick Oborn

Telarus’ Patrick Oborn

We chatted with Oborn about the role of today’s agent, how the business is changing, why partners need to change, and why agents should attend his session.

Channel Partners: Why address this topic now? Is there something happening at this particular point in time that makes it relevant?

Patrick Oborn: I think there is. Five to 10 years ago when a lot of successful agents first came into this area, the rules were that agents did all of the work and they’d write their orders through a master agent who basically takes their orders and pays a commission.

That do-it-yourself model is really outdated. The master agents, the vendors, and everyone around the agents have made investments in tools that agents can leverage … and if the agents don’t take 10 seconds and pop their heads up and see what’s out there that they could be leveraging, they can be left behind. That’s because all these players have created resources that these agents are not taking advantage of.

CP: Why is the do-it-yourself outdated? And, what exactly did it look like?

PO: It was absolutely do-it-yourself … I need to find my own leads, I need to close my own deals, I need to provision my own circuits, I need to do my own account management, I need to do my own renewals, I need to do everything myself.

What that would lead to … for new agents, that was great because you’d build up a book of business — but then you start getting customer issues, billing- and circuit-related issues … and you’d have to drop what you’re doing, go back and fix it, and eventually your bucket is so full of customers that your ability to hunt new logos goes away because you’re saturated.

This model was in place from about 2000 to 2010.

CP: What were these agents typically selling?

PO: Connectivity – MPLS networks, voice, sub trunks —  maybe some hosted voice.

CP: So, what’s changed?

PO: As things have gone more cloud, the vendors themselves want us to sell …

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