Partner Channel - GSTI: A Tale of Tennis, Telephony

Channel Partners

October 1, 2001

3 Min Read
Partner Channel - GSTI: A Tale of Tennis, Telephony

Posted: 10/2001

Partner Channel

GSTI: A Tale of Tennis, Telephony

Since incorporating in 1993, Florida-based Global Systems Telecom Inc. (GSTI)) has grown into a successful master agency, which boasts national contracts and hundreds of subagents.

Support is the secret to success with a subagent model, say cofounders Mark Solomon and Paul Silicato. A deal with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) didn’t hurt, either.

In 1992, Solomon and Silicato, both with backgrounds in the rental car franchise business, decided to launch a long distance sales organization. The two did what agents do best: They leveraged existing contacts and relationships with large and mid-

sized corporation executives to create initial sales.

The two landed an association/affinity deal with the USTA in 1993, which would prove to be a defining moment. GSTI brought the USTA to WilTel, now Williams Communications Canada. WilTel became a USTA sponsor and created a special program for association members.

Through GSTI, members received 11.97 cents a minute daytime, 10.5 cents a minute nighttime switched rates, a 30-50 percent lower cost than the competition, says Silicato.

“So we created a huge amount of business there,” he says. “And soon we had agents calling us to be able to sell that product, so that’s how we started getting subagents working through us.”

Today, GSTI drives 75 percent of its revenue via subagents, and this is its cornerstone. The agency is focused on “making it simple for our agents to do business,” says Solomon.

Once GSTI signed a similar WilTel deal with the Council of Jewish Federations, which has offices throughout the country, the agency found itself with the clout to negotiate with carriers.

“This gave us the volume with the carriers that got everyone’s attention, and

we were able to go in and negotiate more favorable deals than the guy up the

street would get,” says Silicato. “We also signed up some large, high-profile national accounts that helped us snowball

from there.”

Ilene Goldschmidt, GSTI’s director of agent marketing, joined the company

in 1995. She has seen the benefits of volume sales.

“When I first started working for Mark and Paul, I was noticing that a lot of carriers were going to them to get a piece of what they were bringing in,” she says.

The phenomenon dovetailed nicely with GSTI’s push for subagents. The master agency carries large commitments for low pricing levels that most agents would be unable to command on their own. And thanks to its size, GSTI facilitates support.

“These small agents, carriers would be canceling their contracts and forgetting about their customers and any time they had an issue they would be put on the back burner,” says Goldschmidt.

It has added dedicated and local services, ATM, frame relay and wireless to its portfolio. With the services expansion GSTI offers back-office support and training coordinated with or without carriers’ help. GSTI also offers pre- and post-sales support and intercedes with the carrier on behalf of the customer.

It also will assist in closing deals. Goldschmidt cites one account with 112 offices nationwide. An 85-year-old agent who knows nothing about long distance sold it on a cold call, she says.

“He got the cold call to the right person, then brought me in to close it,” She recalls. “Two-and-a-half years later he’s still getting paid on that account.

“The agent’s job is to make a relationship and our job is to help him sell something,” Goldschmidt explains.

GSTI continues to add value to its subagent relationships. In September, the agency implemented an ASP-delivered shop floor management system that gives agents information at their fingertips. The searchable database of rates and offerings includes bill analysis, rate analysis, describes the paperwork necessary for a particular customer and takes agents through the provisioning process all the way to commissioning.

“It’s creating a turnkey solution to get people into the agent business, bringing new blood into the industry,” says Goldschmidt. “It will make it easier to get into business selling this stuff and it will make them more knowledgeable.”

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