By Al Brisard, VP of Sales, Marketing and Business Development, Vertek Corporation
Let’s face it – determining service availability and associated pricing for carrier services is a BIG headache for everyone. CSPs, MSPs and telecom resellers want to sell their on-net services and resell off-net services. Enterprises, especially large multi-location enterprises, want to discover, assess and consume telecom services. In order to get the best deal from a provider, the inquiring entity must be reasonably confident that services are actually available at the addresses in question, and those services will best meet their requirements including price point. And of course, in order to win the business or optimize a network this information is needed as soon as possible.
If the purchaser requires a quote from a single carrier for one location, then the process is relatively simple. If there are multiple choices of services and pricing provided by the single carrier for that one location, it’s still not that difficult to choose the optimal mix.
However, obtaining quotes that include availability for multiple locations from multiple carriers can get very convoluted very quickly, particularly if there are a large number of addresses. There’s serviceability – what services are common to all locations and for all addresses, and can the client actually get that service everywhere if it is ordered? And if that’s not possible, what are the options and tradeoffs?
Common wisdom would have it that there is sufficient opportunity from today’s accelerated growth in reseller and enterprise demand for carrier services to motivate telecom carriers to help make quoting an easy task for their clients. After all, quoting carrier services isn’t a core competency for these clients, and the more help carriers can give to their prospective customers the better.
But instead, carriers appear to have overlooked the fact that prospective customers need to propose the best solutions as quickly as possible to those clients who typically have multiple locations and a myriad of addresses to connect. In fact, it appears carriers have underestimated client needs, and think it’s okay if they just provide a portal to these prospects, enabling them to go in and enter a bit of data and obtain a single quote for a single location. Unfortunately, this does not solve the problem of large MSPs, Resellers and Enterprises who need to work with 100’s of carriers and don’t have the time to go into 100’s of portals. By not making it easier they risk not being quoted at all and lose the opportunity for revenue.
This conundrum has motivated a company like Vertek to step in and provide a single source for obtaining faster and better qualification and quoting information for resellers and enterprises. Using an automated system, we can quickly query directly into a number of carrier application programming interfaces (APIs) to obtain the necessary information for dispersed network locations and multiple services. For those carriers that do not have an API we can provide automated communication on an email basis, and work with individuals within the carrier organizations with whom we have developed close relationships over a 20-year period to obtain the necessary information as quickly as possible.
But at the end of the day the process remains typically a labor-intensive one, whether handled by a company such as Vertek or by the resellers and enterprises themselves. Carriers need to provide better near–real time serviceability and pricing for their prospective customers in order to facilitate more accurate proposal development with no lurking surprises for the end client. There also needs to be a better way to obtain multiple site information, which today remains pretty much a laborious task.
Carriers, when they greatly facilitate ease and accuracy of quoting, will most likely experience an upsurge in business from resellers and enterprise organizations and a more loyal customer base. Resellers will provide timelier, accurate proposals, and be better informed and more competitive. Enterprise customers will profit from improved decision making, swifter network implementation or expansion and ultimately more productive employees. Everyone will benefit.