Should Telecom Agents Sell Energy?

Channel Partners

December 1, 2009

3 Min Read
Should Telecom Agents Sell Energy?

By Vince Bradley, Founder, President and CEO, World Telecom Group

I recently was inspired by Arunas Chesonis, CEO of PAETEC, in his IT Expo keynote when he said business decision making about energy will shift into the hands of the CIO in the next five years. This means there will be centralized decision making for energy and telecom. As someone who has tracked the changes in the energy sector for more than 10 years, I was encouraged to hear an industry visionary hold a congruent view.

A little over a year ago, WTG started working on its Energy Division, Energent, which stands for “Energy for Agents.” With the economic downturn, I felt the landscape had never been more primed for this opportunity. In my research I found about half of U.S. states already were deregulated or were in the process of doing so. (A few things to note here: One, many states are only deregulated for enterprise customers with some stipulations that they have existing services to qualify. Two, about 50 percent of the states are deregulated for both electricity and natural gas while the others have one but not the other…yet.)

The vast majority of telecom agents have been working with their clients for years, have acted as trusted advisers and created perennial value. Energy is a natural progression for the telecom channel. The “Utility Agent” functions as a single point of contact in representing the client for practically all utilities. This not only adds a new profit center but can increase retention of customers.

In my opinion, those who posses the knowledge in telecom and energy essentially will function as a utilities adviser. The more the lines between telecom and energy blur, the more essential it will be for agents to have practical knowledge on both fronts. For example, IP-based lighting systems already exist and will only become more common in the SMB and enterprise spaces, requiring businesses to seek out a well-versed partner that can assist in pricing and provisioning these systems.

At the granular level, value is created from working with ESCOs (Electric Supply Companies) to identify savings on the current “supply” portion of the bill, which generaly range from 5-20 percent depending on whether the provider has a fixed or variable rate. Natural gas saving percentages are similar. However, energy is made up of more than just selling electricity and natural gas. Retrofitting lighting equipment, consulting on rebates for the use of energy-efficient lighting and Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) are just a few other areas where agents can find success in the energy industry.

Vince Bradley is CEO of Commerce Consulting Corp. dba World Telecom Group (WTG), one of the largest telecom master agencies, and Energent, an energy sales and consulting company. Bradley is on the Board of Directors for Technology Channel Association (TCA), the only non-profit association in the Agent Channel. He also is a member of the 2009-10 PHONE+/Channel Partners Conference & Expo Advisory Board.

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