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Roundtable Asks What a Partner is Worth

Wednesdays roundtable definitely got partners talking. What is a Partner Worth? a point/counterpoint discussion between carriers and their indirect sales reps was led by MarketRace founder Michael Fair, who facilitated an interesting discussion between these two camps.

The packed house found Chris Bantoft, executive vice president for alternate channels at PAETEC, and Sandy Spencer, vice president of sales for Qwest Communications Inc., seated symbolically on the opposite side of the podium from three representative of the indirect side of the discussion: Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO; Ted Schuman, CEO of PlanetOne Communications; and Dan Bommer, president of partnerTEL.

The reality is there is the general consensus among the agent community that the RBOCs use us to reach a financial goal, said Schuman early in the discussion. He explained that one of the major strains in the carrier-agent relationship was that the agents dont feel the support that they receive is reciprocal to the money that provide.

When Fair asked how well the carriers knew their partners, Bantoft explained that PAETEC has channel managers that have been there eight or nine years, and that continuity allows for stable and nurtured relationships with the companys partners. We really get in bed with them, Bantoft quipped. Fair then added that, in turn, the successful master agents are the ones who really invest in getting to really know their subagents.

Another theme in the discussion revolved around whether indirect partners are allowed or encouraged to sell to major accounts. The good agent has a real part to play in landing and servicing major accounts, said Bantoft. Schuman responded by saying he had never seen restrictions placed on a direct sales force because of an agents stronghold on an account, but he had definitely seen it go the other way. Therefore, Schuman said, one of the major things partners look for in contracts is reassurance that their revenue streams are protected. We dont run an asset-based business, he said. We own relationships.

Bommer added that agents used to look at who had the lowest price and the highest commissions; but now agents look at new and different things, such as evergreen aspects and security.

Clearly, this discussion was just beginning, but time ran out. And although the session was short, it was most definitely stirring.



Sandy Spencer, vice president of sales for Qwest and Chris Bantoft, executive vice president for alternate channels at PAETEC, discuss a partner’s worth Wednesday.



Dan Bommer, president of partnerTEL, takes part in the session.



MarketRace’s Michael Fair facilitated the discussion.


RAD-INFO’s Peter Radizeski gives the indirect point of view.



Ted Schuman, CEO of PlanetOne Communications, says a major strains in the carrier-agent relationship was that the agents dont feel the support that they receive is reciprocal to the money that provide.  


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