Beyond Price

By TMCnet Special Guest
Peter Radizeski, head of telecom consulting agency RAD-INFO Inc.
  |  July 01, 2011

This article originally appeared in the JULY issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY

Recently on an agent webinar, one agent was talking about how he collects five quotes for a prospect to find the cheapest possible T1. My jaw dropped. That's a lot of work for the sale – not just for the agent but for five carriers. It's a funnel management nightmare.

I understand that sometimes this is required for some prospects, but it seems counter-productive. Cheap customers are usually a bigger pain in the butt.

And cheaper MRC means less commission.

My question is: Don't you know who the cheapest carrier would be by now? Slinging quotes for a few years means you should have an idea of who has networks where, and who should be cheapest.

Low price is a crowded marketplace. Someone always comes along cheaper than you. (I won't even get into the argument that this isn't selling, and it’s the reason some carrier execs dislike the channel.) You aren't adding any value to the sale – and can be replaced by a website. In fact, you will be.

The primary value that agents provide is in service. However, on a $350 T1 with a commission of about $50 per month, how many phone calls can you take from that customer? How much service can you give him without adversely affecting your business and revenue?

Most of the customer pain occurs during the on-boarding – the whole provisioning process. Setting the proper expectations on installation and turn up dates; coordinating the personnel for turn up; and handling any mishaps are the entire agent’s job during provisioning. 

The customer expectations are the most important aspect, especially in a consolidating, cost-cutting, skeleton crew world of telecom and in complex sales like cloud. Many customers will work with an agent just to have an expert deal with the duopoly.

There are times when it is all about the price, and you have to shop it. In those cases, providing excellent customer service along with the setting of proper customer expectations can win you a customer for life and even a referral.

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Edited by Rich Steeves