This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
We work in a me-too industry. Many of the telcos sell the same services: SIP trunking, PRI, MPLS, DIA, etc. – and now all the announcements about the cloud. As a channel partner, how do explain the differences among CLEC A, CLEC B and the ILEC services?
This is one reason why our industry is sold on price. There's not much difference between carriers for many services. It’s not a message that the marketing departments of the carriers do a good job of expressing.
Billing, service delivery, customer care, network control and management are key differentiators. But how often does that enter into the equation? The customer wouldn’t know about problematic service delivery, billing or network until after it was turned up. By then it is too late – for the customer and the agent.
If the agent has had any issues with a carrier, he stops selling them. The agent's livelihood depends on retaining his customer base and his reputation. He can’t do that if he has to deal with issues on every order. That translates to the only differentiating factor being the agent’s own experiences.
Channel partners have a similar problem. How do they differentiate themselves from the direct sales rep and the other agents?
One way is with testimonials. Let your customers tell the story of much help you were or how you delivered great service.
Another avenue is certification. With TCA's new Certified Telecom Professional program, agents can leverage the certification. Granted it is new, but it stills projects the image of someone who takes his profession seriously and is devoted to it. There is value in that. It adds to the agent’s reputation.
Is there an advantage to certifying now? One is to stand out. I’m not sure all channel partners will get certified, but I like being ahead of the curve instead of behind it.
Peter Radizeski is head of telecom consulting agency RAD-INFO (News - Alert) Inc. (http://rad-info.net/)
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi