By Peter Radizeski, RAD-INFO
In speaking with a BellSouth Partner, an interesting fact showed up. There are only about 400,000 business names left in the database for call centers to target. And since there are about 30 call centers operated by either AT&T Southeast or by the various partner agencies, those businesses must get three calls a day! You have to figure that most of those 400,000 don’t want to switch back to the ILEC.
Some partners have switched to just focusing on upgrades or fulfilling packages like Answers, but with only 400,000 winbacks available, the agents are running out of road. Obviously, voice and DSL packages are the most profitable for the partner, but what happens when the market opportunity shrinks?
The CLEC competition is not really growing. PAETEC and the others in the nine-state region formerly called BellSouth have seemed stuck on their line counts. The only traction in the small biz space is really going to cable.
So what’s an agent to do?
Four possible scenarios:
1.) Start selling CLEC or reseller services. Unless you have an exclusive contract, many of you do this already. You churn your database from one carrier to another. Not good for the carrier, but it puts food on the agent table.
2.) Become an agent for your cable provider. Some cable providers do offer an agent program. (Check the Channel Partner show for your opportunity to sign up with an MSO). Cablecos are increasingly looking at the small business space to sell voice, internet and TV. Now’s probably a good time to jump into that space.
3.) Switch your call center to offering cellular. In my opinion, the cellular market has flattened out. Everyone who wants a cell phone has one (sometimes two). The challenge will be to be able to do take-aways. You know, take the customer away from his carrier to bring to your provider (when the contract expires). New phones being the main appeal. Or a reduction in MRC.
4.) The final scenario is challenging. It involves adding or switching to selling a new line of product. Selling voice is different than selling data or software, so what do you do? Well, get some training on how to make the shift. Find a line of products that you can relate to and believe in. There are several hot topics to choose from, like managed services, SAAS, security, data back-up and remote IT support. Relevant sessions are available at the Channel Partners Expo in Jersey.