The 2015 Telecom Association Partners Choice Awards were announced earlier today and a look at the results seems to show some common threads for the biggest winners, a few of which are worthy of mention:
Bigger Isn't Necessarily Better - When it comes to which vendors that channel partners enjoy doing business with the most, which company has the deepest corporate pockets or spends the most on advertising doesn't really seem to factor into the equation. Those who have been in the industry for any length of time realize that the size of the partner you do business with does not automatically equate to better service or support.
Partner Support vs. Commissions is a Non-Contest - Choosing a vendor based upon who pays the absolutely highest possible commission is almost never a wise choice. Most partners seem to realize that chasing the highest commission is rarely worth the effort if they can not get the support they need to close deals and get paid by vendors. This year's award results seem to pretty accurately reflect this trend.
It's About Individual Support - No amount of automated support options, SPIFFs, sales contests or other perks seem to count as much as old-fashioned, one-on-one support when it came to voting. Most vendors and master agents rated highest are known for their depth of personal support in a variety of areas. It is not uncommon these days for many vendors and master agencies to provide a variety of contacts for individual carrier support, quoting support, commissions support, marketing support, retention assistance as well as regional and even local contacts. Those with the broadest array of personal support options seem to have fared the best in this year's voting.
You Can't Buy Reputation - Our industry has no shortage of suppliers that can't or won't deliver on their promises. Fortunately, there are not as many of these companies left as there used to be, thanks to word-of-mouth within the agent channel. This year's voting indicates that no amount of money or promises can buy a good reputation in this industry or repair a bad one.
Quality vs Quantity - The days of master agents adding every possible service or vendor they can get a contract with is long gone. Channel Partners are catching on to this. Having the most contracts with the most carriers is no longer the badge of pride it once was. Partners demand that their master agents have solid relationships and communications with their vendors. Otherwise, they simply add an extra layer of complexity to an already complex situation.
Partners That Add Value - Simply offering off-the-shelf pricing and services is no longer enough these days. If you don't offer some sort of added value to your agent partners, you are simply a middleman. Services like circuit monitoring, customized billing and rate plans, training and certification, provisioning software and marketing support is becoming more and more necessary to stay competitive in TA's various awards categories.