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Observations From the Expo

By Peter Radizeski, RAD-INFO

What message did you take away from the partner panel at Channel Partners Conference & Expo this week?

One message was that the channel has changed, perhaps, improved over the last 10 years. Some channel programs are easier; some are challenging. (One, for sure, is shrinking.) Consolidation of the carriers means less traditional telco channels for agents to choose from, but luckily for the agents, new opportunities are available (as we saw in the exhibit hall). New players in the space bring new revenue streams via software (like MySAAS), Web 2.0 (TalkPlus), hardware (NETX, SUTUS), and services (TEM, Iomega, backup and security).

Shared Technologies, which sells Nortel, NEC and MITEL phone systems, also markets a security software product called LayerX. “LayerX is to security what a SWAT team is compared to a Rent-A-Cop. Software Log and Event Management that actually enforces a company’s security policy rather then just reporting it,” explains Pete Accetturo of Shared Tech. If you sell to SOX Complying companies, this is something to look at.

Another message was that the agents need to adapt to the changes in the marketplace. Carriers think it’s time agents moved up the food chain to start selling more data and bigger pipe – MPLS, VOIP and other acronymns.

PAETEC, Qwest and ACC Business are in the process of training agents with MPLS road shows. It was disappointing to not see more attendees in the training classes on Wednesday morning. It is a different skill set to sell MPLS than to sell DSL and dial-tone.

I’d like to take a moment to discuss Ted Schumans and Dan Bommers comments on the panel.

Both mentioned that carrier partners should help them build their business.

How is it the carrier’s job to funnel sub-agents, leads and business to you?

I would suggest that if you are looking for that kind of partnership, you need to whittle the 30-plus vendors you contract with down to three or four that do not compete – and bind yourself to those three or four carriers – but that has risk.

The other point that they made was that unproductive agents are better served by a master agent. How? Surely the carrier has more resources than a master agency does, even if, as Dan put it, “we are more efficient.”

Some channel programs have tried the VAD program, whereby unproductive agents are not kicked out but rolled under a master, and to the best of my knowledge of these roll-ups, it has not increased the productivity of the sub-agents. To that I would ask: How do Master Agents help sub-agents grow THEIR business?

I hope you enjoyed the expo! See you in Vegas at Rio All Suites Casino on March 10.

Peter Radizeski is president of

RAD-INFO

. He can be reached at

peter@rad-info.net

.


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