Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Hello Dom, thank you for agreeing to speak with us. To begin, please bring us up-to-date on what is happening with Telecom Brokers, now Technology Source.
We’ve always been based in southern California, and currently have our headquarters in Santa Ana. I had been running the business from behind the scenes, and this year I made the decision to come back in with more direct involvement. We felt that the old name looked back toward a legacy environment, and that led to the decision to rebrand. As of June 1, we rolled out our name change from Telecom Brokers to Technology Source. We chose our new name, Technology Source, to last and to be universal as we expand our portfolio. I love technology and as sourcing is what we do, the name was a natural fit that better reflects our mission and our growing corporate identity. We are rebranding across the board to reflect a big push into a broad range of tech services that significantly differentiate us from our competitors. These include big data analytics, digital marketing services, and more. We’re adding MSP, cloud and infrastructure services.
Our leadership team is expanded to include two exciting new members. We have brought in Sonya Zeigler Meline, formerly Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for Effortless Office. Sonya is now Vice President at Technology Source, and plays a key role in our forward-looking development, as we work toward building relationships with our clients through highly strategic conversations. We also have promoted Rob Olson to Executive Vice President. Rob has a long record of leading channel sales teams and delivering revenue growth for world-class organizations, most recently as Managing Partner at Converged Network Services Group.
I’m always driving that concept of the “strategic business conversation” with clients. We want to show clients how they can maximize their current budget, rather than look for ways to reduce it. They will have goals to accomplish that are not about saving money, so our approach is to show clients where we can actually save them money, in order to push budget toward those higher value needs. I describe it as showing people that “we can save you money here and get you this over there.” So many businesses need to outsource functions that we can take off their plate while keeping them within their budget.
We have greatly expanded our line of products and services. We noticed that some things, for example WiFi service, wasn’t selling to the IT Department, but at the same time, the Marketing Department is a big influencer on IT decisions. One retail client went with a higher cost provider rather than a lower cost one, because they were able to get intelligence on who was shopping in their stores. That’s a case where IT would look at deploying WiFi as an expense, whereas Marketing would be looking to obtain intelligence on customers. A conversation about cost of service is irrelevant to the Marketing people because they see value in the data. Marketing in itself becomes a revenue generator, therefore the data drives revenue and it is priceless. The spend on the circuit is a non-issue because the data is worth so much to them. That has helped us get WiFi in for a lot of clients. Upselling in general is not such a difficult hurdle anymore because you don’t have to convince people that they need more of these capabilities.
We’ve expanded into digital marketing that allows us to give clients WiFi including an app that provides this kind of intelligence, such as who is shopping in their store. This kind of data helps retailers learn where people are active in the store and where there are dead spots that should be remerchandised because the foot traffic is too light. We can “geofence” their competitors and track when people enter a competing store down the road, then retarget those people for ads via the cellular network. This service doesn’t generate a big income stream for us, but it is what I call the “free popcorn” that attracts people and leads into having those bigger conversations with them.
Another component of our strategy is to do snapshot reviews of all our clients, giving them a report card for their social media, with number of likes and followers, and other services. That in turn leads us to the next step, “Let’s look at your network.” We ask where are you listed, are your phone numbers the same or changed? We encourage people to supply permissions allowing us to do a report and analysis of their network. EtherTel, a company we recently acquired, brought in some valuable ideas that we have adopted, like a growing assessment group that performs these evaluations and screening. We ask them to sign on to a basic agreement before moving forward, because we know that when they are willing to do that low level of basic engagement with you, then your closing rate jumps from about 10% up to about 70%. It’s a good way to avoid spending a lot of time on large opportunities where they take your quote back to another provider and you have wasted all that time.
We are in the process of hiring more channel managers to work with our growing number of partners. We’re developing our highest level partners’ business further by assigning agents to work under them, which helps us avoid becoming top-heavy with management. At the same time we get to really engage with our partners at a deeper level. So far, we have two partners who manage teams of direct reps and we hope to expand this approach further in 2020.
At Technology Source we are differentiated from our competitors because we are not a Costco-style, self-serve warehouse like all the big masters. We get very strategic with our partners, help them with their strategy, prospecting, content and how they market to their customers. We really help them develop their businesses. Intelisys has a saying, “Give us all the top performers.” My motto is “Give me the rest and I’ll make them the best.”
What do you like about working with AireSpring?
For starters, the free 24/7 circuit monitoring that AireSpring provides on its network and via its SD-WAN solution is invaluable. For example, we’ve installed AireSpring’s SD-WAN for our Nashville office, because they were having a lot of problems with the cable company which goes down constantly. The choice there is between the cable-co or AT&T, so with AireSpring’s product we were able to do a little bit of both. In the first year, the cable circuit has gone down three times and our people didn’t even know it was down, until AireSpring notified them of it and indicated they were already working