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Agency Channel: FerrisCom Capitalizes in Wireless Opportunity, Recognized by Sprint PCS

February 1, 2001

3 Min Read
Agency Channel: FerrisCom Capitalizes in Wireless Opportunity, Recognized by Sprint PCS

By Tara Seals

Posted: 02/2001

FerrisCom Capitalizes in Wireless
Opportunity, Recognized by Sprint PCS
By Tara Seals

Salisbury, Mass.-based master agency
Ferris Communications (FerrisCom, www.ferriscom.com)
has been recognized by Sprint PCS (www.sprintpcs.com)
as the largest dealer in the Northeast, and it was awarded "Diamond
Dealers" status last fall.

According to president and CEO Keith Ferris, the accolades are a result of a
natural expansion in the agency’s product mix to include wireless services.

Diamond Dealers receive perks, such as a Diamond Dealer hotline to the Sprint
headquarters in Kansas City, additional support from local Sprint PCS
representatives, training with mobile application software vendors and a higher
commission percentage. Subagents have access to Diamond Dealer-level support as
well.

Diamond Dealers must sell at least 400 new PCS activations per month, which
are calculated every quarter. FerrisCom is the only dealer in the Northeast that
has reached that goal.

Despite the advantages, Ferris says he never chased Diamond Dealer status.
His success is a byproduct of adding value to the agency’s product portfolio–in
the form of wireless devices.

"First of all, what we’re seeing from our agent base is an understanding
that, one, why leave money on the table? Why not be more of a single-source
solutions provider for your customer?" he explains. "It’s getting more
business out of the effort you put in."

Ferris says the product is not as difficult to be comfortable with as other
moneymaking services such as local or data, which require dedication to learning
the underlying technology and applications.

"You see a diminishing income based on a number of things, primarily
relating to long distance. Local also was a problematic addition, and it
catapulted us into wireless," Ferris says. "Everything you read and
everything that’s out there tells you that wireless will be the future. So why
not get a foothold early on?"

FerrisCom began marketing wireless services six years ago, when PCS first
started hitting the market. Taking a consultative approach, the company
positioned itself as a single-source communications dealer, enabling it to sell
into existing wireline customers. The agency created mailers, telemarketed and
e-mailed its base, emphasizing that it offered multiple choices in
communications.

"It’s a matter of creating interest and providing a single source for
many things, which, for most customers, is a huge benefit," he says.
"It doesn’t matter so much where the billing is coming from as long as they
can get the answers they need in one location."

He adds, "For all the work you put in, you’re just getting more out of
it. You already have all those customers, why not go back to them with something
new, and you don’t have to start from scratch."

FerrisCom’s distribution includes retail locations, direct salespeople,
telesales and subagents. Agent involvement represents close to 50 percent of
FerrisCom’s total Sprint PCS sales, a number Ferris expects to grow to 75
percent this year. The agency has contracts with other major wireless carriers,
such as AT&T Corp. (www.att.com), but says
that Sprint is perfectly positioned for agent business.

"[Sprint PCS] lends itself really well to agent applications because we
don’t have to force inventory on our agent base, salespeople or ourselves,"
he says. "So that makes it less cumbersome than a lot of other products out
there."

He also explains that Sprint’s wireless products represent continuing
opportunities to sell into businesses.

"It’s everything you can do with the digital for business applications,
like WAP [wireless application protocol] and m-commerce, two-way e-mailing, and
there’s a PDA [personal digital assistant] phone out now–a combination of a
Palm Pilot and a phone," Ferris says. "Basically, you almost have the
ability now to have a small computer with you wherever you go. They’re kind of
ahead of the rest of the pack in terms of offering up products that are really
good for business solutions."

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