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Agent: A Dying Breed?

By Frank Ahearn, CEO, McGraw Communications

Whatever happened to the traditional agent? You know, the one that was well versed in the technology they were representing, hard working, honest and had the customers best interest in mind.

In my opinion agents are a dying breed. Not that there arent any out there but, they are definitely outnumbered by the guy/gal who is looking to make money by just knowing someone or because they sold them something (not necessarily technology related) in the last five years.

Who is to blame for this transformation? Is it because this is a generation of a false sense of entitlement or did the carriers themselves create this by paying full agent commissions to agents for doing very little. As an owner of a CLEC that has no private investors or public money it makes it difficult to compete in the agent community. I have a tough time rationalizing paying an agent full commission while having to pay for my full internal resources, never mind trying to cost justify it.

I have no problem with the referral endorser model, the one where two companies (carrier and agent) pool their resources to create a better customer experience. But why does the agent think that he deserves 20 percent? I still have to pay a salesperson (who doesnt want a commission hit), a project manager, a sales engineer and a highly compensated provisioning team.

Maybe this is why so many telecom companies are not truly making money. They are still concerned with top-line revenue and not true profitability. This is not to say there arent carriers making money or who have a true financially legitimate agent model, because there are. Also, there are plenty of old school agents bringing value to the carriers and their customers they represent but more and more every day I see the false sense of entitlement agent tainting the agent industry as a whole.

Frank Ahearn is CEO and co-founder of McGraw Communications and oversees all aspects of carrier relationships and overall network design. He also sits on Verizons Wholesale Advisory Board, Comptels CEO Council and Paetec’s Reseller Advisory Board.


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