This article originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY
Many industries offer a professional certificate. It is a designation of a qualification. It can re-shape an industry segment. Look at what Cisco's (News - Alert) certifications have done for networking: Solid educational levels with demonstrated proficiency.
Finance has levels of certifications. Would you rather have your business taxes handled by an accountant or a CPA? Do you want to use a financial advisor or a CFP? The certification sets the person apart.
Of course, not everyone knows the difference between a CPA and an accountant. CPAs are considered some of business' most trusted advisers, according to a recent survey conducted by the American Institute of CPAs. Education, ethics, experience and the exam go into becoming a CPA. (There are no requirements to be an accountant, btw).
Our industry has a similar problem. Anyone can call themselves a telecom agent. And one bad apple can ruin the whole barrel (as I have discovered a few times). As we move to IP services, being a trusted advisor is going to be extremely important.
First, the agent will need the skills to sell as a trusted advisor, in place of being a quoting machine. Master agencies will have to make this shift as well. Then, the agent will need product knowledge of IP, such as VoIP and SaaS (News - Alert), including the differences between the vendors. That final step can be a professional certificate.
The MSP Alliance has a certification. SMB Nation has a pocket MBA. Now, the Technology Channel Association (TCA, tcasite.org), the only non-profit trade association for agents, has developed a certification program for the channel.
“It is a stated goal of the TCA to raise the level of professionalism and reputation within the channel. The creation of the Certified Telecom Professional (CTP) is one of many steps in that direction. It addresses fundamental knowledge, ethics and experience validation to adequately add a value to the customer experience," states Ben Henkels of Communication Management Partners and TCA certification committee chairman.
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Edited by Jaclyn Allard