Whats Your Networking Partner Failover Plan?

Gary JacobsBy Gary Jacobs

As salespeople, we love getting leads from our loyal customers and from the network of referral partners we’ve built over the years. But, as you know, it takes a long time to get to the point when you can minimize your own prospecting efforts and survive off of your network alone.

One of the challenges facing telecom and technology salespeople is that our businesses continue to converge. Once, there was a time when salespeople focused on a specific core set of services like telecom services, phone systems, IT services, hardware, and/or managed services. Now, every business offers everything, resulting in networking partners becoming competitors which equates to a dwindling lead source.

Why is this happening? 

  1. More and more companies or salespeople selling technology services are recognizing that they talk to the same decision-maker that is buying additional technology services from someone else.
  2. These companies or salespeople have learned that they can gain access to sell these additional technology services either with a direct relationship with the supplier or through a master agent.
  3. They have recognized the importance of developing a recurring revenue steam and want to make their customers stickier by selling as many services to them as possible. 
  4. For those looking to “broker” these services vs. build and bill for them, there are very few (if any) barriers of entry as the master agents have made it easy for companies to gain access to all of the providers out there, as well as offer up resources to help their subagents sell those services.

Hopefully within your business, your current networking partners won’t become your future competitors, but if they do, there are other strategies you can execute on to prospect strategically as you continue to build up more networking partners.

While you can always revert back to the typical ways of prospecting — like picking a geographic area and canvassing it, identifying certain companies or verticals you want to go after, mining your existing customer base for referrals or diving headfirst into social media — I’d like to introduce an alternative idea.

As you know, many customers today are looking for redundant/failover solutions for their Internet connections.  Not only are the Internet and data traffic dependent on that connection, but with the addition of hosted PBX (UCaaS) and cloud services, along with the surge of video traffic riding that same Internet circuit, the importance of that connection has increased dramatically and has become a single point of failure for the customer’s whole business. Therefore the need for a redundant/failover solution for the Internet is top of many customers’ minds. This creates the opportunity for you to find and deliver solutions to satisfy that need. 

The key to selling redundant/failover services is knowing what services are available in a particular area and building.

Within a particular geography, find out the following (from the service provider or through a master agent):

  1. What buildings are lit with fiber from the different providers that service that area?
  2. Which areas have Ethernet over copper (EoC)?
  3. Which buildings have fixed wireless?
  4. Which buildings have coax services from a cable provider?
  5. Which areas have strong 4G/LTE wireless capabilities?

While creating a redundant/failover solution it’s important to recommend Internet connections that are delivered via different access mediums as mentioned above. For example, the best failover solution for an Internet connection where the primary service is delivered through the ground (fiber, EoC, coax) is through the air via a fixed wireless connection or 4G/LTE connection (depending how much bandwidth is needed for the failover). However, since all of the different mediums are not available at each building, you will have to do the best you can to ensure what you are offering provides a certain level of redundancy for the customer and satisfies what they are looking for.

Gary Jacobs is the vice president of channel sales in southern California for Bridgepointe Technologies, a master agency headquartered in northern California. He is building the southern California marketplace for Bridgepointe by helping sales agents develop growth strategies that increase their residual revenue streams through the sales of telecom and cloud services. Jacobs has more than 18 years of experience in telecom and has held leadership positions for LCI International and Qwest, and most recently served as a director within TelePacific’s telepartner channel. He is also a member of the 2014-15 Channel Partners Advisory Board.

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