Agents Are Fed Up




By Peter Radizeski, President of RAD-INFO

Last week, I received an e-mail from a client that his customer’s 3xT1 was up for renewal. They wanted to down grade to a 2xT1. The current ILEC’s quote was unacceptable, but seemed reasonable to me. Many folks are downgrading circuits in today’s economy. I don’t know how to get paid for a downgrade, but I do know how to turf it to another carrier to get paid.

In this case, the client wanted quotes from other carriers, so I don’t have any worries or second thoughts. I wouldn’t want to turf him just to make money because there are issues with switching carriers and it may not be in the client’s best interest. I have clients for life, so my outlook is long term — the lifetime value of a customer.

Then I get hit with this e-mail message:

“CUSTOMER RETENTION — If you aren’t talking to your customers about renewing their contracts — trust me the Direct Sales force of Qwest, Verizon and AT&T ARE. All three carriers are using their Direct Teams to mine agent accounts. …It cost more to get a new customer versus maintaining and growing your existing base.”

This action makes me mad. The only reason they have that customer is because of an agent. Now they are basically stealing that commission stream. What?

Carriers, can’t your direct salespeople do anything but farm from the database? Of course not. But this action will come back to haunt you. I promise. Agents are fed up with this.

My suggestions to the agent community:

CRM. Anyone will do. Have someone in your office call clients 6 months before contract expiry. It will only take you one hour per day — 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. Make that appointment in your calendar!

Cross-sell your clients. Conferencing services, back-up, redundancy, SaaS, TEM, TAM, VoIP, UC, everything. Offer various services from a multitude of vendors. You’ll have multiple streams of income. Plus the client will be tied to you!

Be proactive. Then contact them every quarter by phone and every month by e-mail.

Take control. If you really want to own the customer — REBILL! It’s tricky because of contracts and risk, but you would own the whole relationship. This is one reason resellers do so well. It’s easier to deal with a reseller than Verizon on any given day — and the rates are better!

The worst part of the ILEC strategy is that customers will be tied up in contract for three years. My advice is to keep track of contracts even for lost clients and help them to send out the “No Renew” letter 90 days out.

The IT channel is experiencing similar issues today. What you do about it today is the key.

Peter Radizeski is president of RAD-INFO. He is a former member of the PHONE+/Channel Partners Conference & Expo Advisory Board.

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