Telarus has been around since 2002 which has brought many experiences working with agents both successful and struggling. I have taken the top 9 characteristics of the very successful agents we’ve had the pleasure of working with and made a short guide for quick reference.
Great telecom agents are easy to get in touch with, and when asked, respond to their customer’s needs quickly. Although you might think that changing a company’s digital infrastructure is a decision that’s not made on a whim, they do get very tired of waiting for an agent to come back with a quote. The lack of speed is what drives many customers to call the direct sales rep, thinking they’ll get a faster turn-around. Agents can prevent this by using an online pricing tool, supplier back-office site, or by using an app with fiber maps on it. Although the tools won’t close the deal for you, they’ll cut precious hours out of the carrier selection process.
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Great telecom agents don’t mess up paperwork or quote incorrect product/pricing options. There is nothing a customer hates more than to receive carrier contracts, just to be told the next day they need to re-sign all of the paperwork due to an error. Make sure you work with a master agent who has automated contract generating tools and an incredibly smart back-office staff. This minimizes the contract back-and-forths you have to have with your clients.
Can you imagine if you went to the doctor and he said, “Wow, that’s weird! I’ve never seen THAT before!” Similarly, customers want to rely on your insight and experience to advise them. The great telecom agents are the ones who can advise their clients on industry best practices and tell them something they don’t already know. This shouldn’t be too difficult, considering your clients spend all day staring at Visio diagrams. You see customers, big and small, trying to accomplish the same things, so don’t just give them the requested quote. Get in and be a part of the design—or at least bring in a Telarus sales engineer who can add some perspective and insight. The great agents help design solutions, and insight is key.
Great telecom agents use circuit monitoring, network pre-assessments, and other tools that enable them to make recommendations, and offer help, using actual data from the customer’s network environment. Bits and bytes are invisible, and it’s impossible for human beings to know if a customer needs more bandwidth, or if they need to upgrade hardware without data. Success needs to be measured using objective data. We purchased VXSuite a year ago just for this very purpose: To give you a view into the network and change the conversations you can have with your clients. If your master agent isn’t providing these tools, check out VXSuite.
Great telecom agents take the time to attend training provided to them by their product suppliers, as well as their master agents. We offer 30 minutes of over-the-phone live training each week. There is no shortage of educational material out there. Take time each week to invest in your education. When your clients ask you the difference between BigLeaf SDN and Cisco’s iWAN solutions, you’ll be glad you did. Even if you don’t work with Telarus, you’re welcome to sit in on our calls. You can find the call-in information here.
Great telecom agents are pleasantly persistent. They know the line between being annoying and being too soft on their customers. When you’re in a deal, make sure you stay engaged, keep asking questions, and keep offering value, but don’t get yourself fired for being overeager.
One trick you can use is text messaging with the decision maker. Many times, busy people won’t answer the phone, email, or even LinkedIn messages. But, a quick, “How are things going?” text message is a light enough touch you can elicit a response without burning your contact out. Just use it carefully; keep it to one or two touches per week and you should be just fine. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint.
One of the most important things you can do as an agent is to be different from your competition, whether it be a direct sales rep or another agent. Be different by adding free circuit monitoring to each and every proposal you create. You can also bring an unbiased sales engineer with you to the appointment to answer any questions the client may have. If you’re selling unified communications, have your client pull up the VXSupportLine URL for the provider you are quoting to see how their network will handle VoIP traffic during your appointment.
In a recurring revenue business, the great telecom agents have a retention team constantly working to service, support, and upsell their base of accounts. Whether you hire back office staff yourself, or you bring in Telarus Account Management to do it under your brand, it’s critical you continually care for and farm your base. This will double your profits over time.
The great telecom agents know that, despite everything above, people do business with people. Do the little things to let your customers know you care about and appreciate them. Handwritten thank you notes, tasteful posts on Facebook, recommendations on LinkedIn, a congratulations on an accomplishment, or even just a happy anniversary show you care.
Stay engaged with your clients and make them real-world friends. Life is short, choose your customers wisely and treat them like family.
As you see here, I detail nine different elements to becoming a great telecom agent. Telarus can help you in every category, but the rest is up to you! To meet Telarus on the road, visit our events website. We’ll be at Channel Partners Evolution next week in Washington, D.C. in booth G72.