Monday, December 08, 2008

The VoIP Channel 101

Over the years I have worked with many VoIP Providers. A good chunk of my consulting is on The Channel, Referral Systems, and Sales Compensation.

There are a number of landmines that can destroy a relationship with an independent sales agent. These include but are not limited to:

  1. Your quoting system (or time to quote)
  2. How you track the sales and provisioning process
  3. How you track Compensation
  4. How you handle agents calls / issues / sales / payments

All of these mines have subsets as follows:

  • What is your number porting process like?
  • What is your training like for customers? for Agents?
  • What does your marketing collateral look like and say?
  • Issue Resolution

It is no small thing to acquire an Agent. You are asking someone to spend the effort to:

  1. examine your service offering
  2. negotiate and sign an Agreement
  3. Learn all about your service offering to the Comfort Point
  4. Now go market & sell it

It is similar to buying a franchise agreement. Foremost, you are asking for the Agent to trust you and to lend his reputation to your company and its services. Big Step.

You have to ask yourself: Why would he take a chance on me? Here are some things for you to think about:

  1. Do you have a clear USP?
  2. Do you sell to Verticals with a concise ROI or TCO?
  3. Do you know who your best customer is and why?
  4. Do you do any marketing?
  5. How much time and effort can I give each agent to get off the ground?
  6. What happens if he sells something?
  7. What systems do I have in place for that?
  8. Will those systems Scale?

Some companies have a Referral Plan now. (I won't even call it a system because it isn't.) What does it consist of? Mentioning that free month if they refer someone? WOOT! Yeah. That won't cut it. A System is a consistent process that involves a plan, a goal, and how to get there. If you want a Referral Plan to work, you have to work the Plan (as they say in Amway). By that, you have to remind folks that you have it in creative, mentally sticky ways. You have to even give them a script on what to say or a coupon or email link to send to their family and friends network. You have reward them tangibly and thank the best referrers publicly. Then start all over again. (it doesn't happen automatically).

Now back to the Agent Channel that you want selling your VOIP Service. Why not just hire a Sales person? Too expensive, right? Too time consuming? Don't want to manage a sales guy? These are reasons that your channel will fail as well. Imagine spending money, time and effort on people you have Zero Control over. Imagine them forgetting to propose your services for months, then call with a White Elephant and not close it. And disappear. Lots of work; little return. Welcome to the Channel. The Channel is a case study in Pareto's Principle - the 80/20 Rule. About 80% of the sales will come from 20% of the agents. About 80% of your time will be consumed by the least productive 20%.

How do you get it going then? A system. A plan. A goal. In reverse order. More to come. Stay tuned. Sign up for to get this blog via a weekly email.

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