Frequently asked questions
A lot of customers have questions about Walnut Telecom’s business model and how we work. Here are some of the questions we get most often:
What is our business model?
Walnut Telecom is a Telecommunication Solution Consulting Firm who focuses on the supplying voice and data telecom solutions to its clients. Our process starts with the discovery of the applications and goals of our clients to determine the best solution and recommendations based upon those needs. We have extensive experience in complex network solutions for voice, data, VoIP, audio and web conferencing, managed solutions, disaster recovery, and hosting solutions. Our direct relationships with carriers, service providers and technology companies create a beneficial relationship for our clients.
How do we get paid?
We are compensated by our partners for the solutions that we offer to our clients. Our compensation is on a monthly basis for the duration of the contract term. It is sometimes said that compensation dictates behavior; our compensation is based upon supporting our clients’ needs over the long term, not by hitting any type of sales quota. Because of this, we are more capable to serve and support our clients over the long term and develop strong relationships with them.
How do customers interact with the carriers?
Our clients directly have contracts with the carriers who are providing services and solutions for them. We also supply technical support, customer support as well as escalation contacts for the carrier in the event you are not able to get in touch with us for any issues.
How are we supported by Walnut Telecom?
Clients are supported by our back office and support resources as well as direct support and escalation contacts with the carriers. Clients are provided account information, circuit ID’s, customer care and repair contact info to the carriers directly. Once a trouble ticket is entered into their system, Walnut Telecom is able to work directly with our internal contacts within the carriers to assist in the resolution of the issue.
Is Walnut Telecom a middle man? Will they add an extra layer?
Walnut Telecom is not an extra layer. All carriers have two sales organizations; a direct sales team and an indirect sales team. Walnut Telecom is part of the indirect sales channel for over 20 different carriers. Walnut Telecom has either APIs or secure web access into all of the carriers billing systems, provisioning systems, etc…, as if we were a direct employee. We have the same visibility into the orders, repair systems, as the direct sales people do. We have stringent proprietary contracts in place with each carrier that allows us this kind of system access. Walnut Telecom also has access to the same support and repair organizations as the direct team. Those organizations support both channels. If there is a certain support person that is well liked, that individual can often times be part of the Walnut Telecom team.
Due to Walnut Telecom’s relationships, we have access to most of the executive level management for each carrier, often times getting things done quicker than a direct sales team
Will I get higher pricing and worse service through Walnut Telecom, compared to a traditional direct sales team?
It is mandated by each carrier that pricing is the same for both the indirect sales channel and the direct sales channel. Both channels represent the carriers as a sales organization and the carrier will not risk undermining its credibility by giving preferential treatment to a particular channel. The indirect sales channel represents a large percentage of the overall sales revenue for each carrier and the relationship with the indirect sales channel would be negatively impacted if there was a bias in terms of pricing. It could be argued that the indirect sales channel is a less costly sales model than a direct sales team because there are no salaries, overhead and benefits paid to an indirect sales team like Walnut Telecom. We only get paid on what we sell for the carrier.
Walnut Telecom dedicates more support personnel than a direct sales team. We have control over how much support a particular customer may need and this is one area that sets us apart. Direct sales team support people are decided at very high levels, which is out of the sales team’s control. We understand this is not always good for customers and is one of the main cogs of our business model and why we started the company. We shower our customers with support and it’s in our control to do so.
Do I have any downside by working with an organization such as Walnut Telecom? What is my recourse if I don’t like the way they manage my account?
Because you are not contracting with Walnut Telecom, we should be viewed like a direct sales team. Your contract is with the carrier that we represent, not Walnut Telecom. You have no exposure here in anyway. We have a sales manager that we report to for each carrier, just like a direct sales team. Our customers know all of our sales managers (for the carrier they are using) and you will have access to them and their leadership team, at any time. Like a direct sales team, you can go to the Walnut Telecom carrier sales manager with concerns and have us removed from your account if needed. We go to great lengths; to make sure our customers have executive level involvement with all of the carriers they are doing business with through Walnut Telecom.
Why do I need this kind of a sales organization when I already have my traditional account team?
Because Walnut Telecom does not technically “work” for a carrier, it can represent multiple carriers and therefore can maintain a “consultative” approach to the way we work with our customers. Walnut Telecom does not really care what carrier a customer chooses to go with, our only real concern is that the solution is the right one for the needs of the customer. It is very difficult to get that kind of objectivity from a direct sales team.
Walnut Telecom’s compensation model is in alignment with what the customer is trying to do, which is to cut costs and create efficiencies. Direct sales team’s get paid on a one time basis for each sale. They are not compensated on an ongoing basis for the management of the account unless there continues to be a new sale made. Once the sell is made, there is a snapshot of the total revenue associated for that sale. The sales person can only be compensated if that revenue continues to grow. If the revenue is written down because the pricing needs to be adjusted, the sales team takes a big hit to their compensation. Sales people are not driven to lower pricing which puts them in direct conflict with what customers are so often trying to do. The old adage… sales people’s behavior is driven by their compensation plan is so true. This is why you see a lot of energy around a new sales team trying to win “new business” but not the same energy level around incumbent sales teams trying to “maintain” business.
Walnut Telecom is paid on a residual compensation plan. This means that we get paid a monthly commission for the total revenue, for the term of the contract and when the contract is renewed. We are highly motivated to take care of our customers throughout the term of the agreement because our compensation is co-terminus with our customer’s agreements. More importantly, we are even more motivated to take care of our customers so that they are compelled to sign a renewal agreement when the time comes. If that agreement is not signed, our compensation goes away… Again, compensation plans do drive behavior. This is one of the more significant drivers for our business model when we started Walnut Telecom. It was absolutely imperative that the compensation model was in total alignment with our customer’s needs.
Walnut Telecom account teams do not come and go. Our sales teams have worked with all of our customers for years. We have had zero turn-over in our company since we were founded and specifically with our account teams. You can count on having an account team that knows your business and is essentially an extension of you.
What value does Walnut Telecom really bring to my organization?
Our customers trust us! They see us as their partner. We see this as the single largest measuring stick for true value.
In addition to the points made above, Walnut Telecom can provide value added resources and services (at no charge) to the account team that are not usually available with a direct team. It does need to be said that because of the depth of all Walnut Telecom’s carrier relationships, Walnut Telecom can truly be a one stop shop for its customers. This creates real efficiencies from a support perspective.
Here is an example of Walnut Telcom’s resources and services:
- Voice and Data telecom network inventories
- 24 x 7 Repair Support
- Billing Audits against the contracted rates
- Simplify telecom issues by providing our customers with a one stop shop for all carrier needs.
- Cisco/WAN engineering support at no charge to help with network conversions, re-designs, or outages.
- Dedicated support specialist for all account support issues
- Quarterly Pricing and Technology Update- Mandated best practice for Walnut Telecom personnel.
- Billed Services
- 24 x 7 Network NOC
- On-going router management
- Demarc extensions and wiring maintenance to anywhere in the United States.
How does a direct sales organization differ from the indirect sales organization that Walnut Telecom is part of?
Walnut Telecom has direct relationships with CenturyLink(formerly Qwest), AT&T, Verizon, Windstream, Integra, Level 3 Communications, TNCI, XO Communications, Momentum, CallTower, Earthlink, and Forethought.
How does a company like Walnut Telecom make its money? Do I have to contract with them?
To reiterate, the carries pay us a commission for services we sell for them. We represent the carrier, so our customers sign contracts from the carriers, not Walnut Telecom. We put the order into the carrier ordering system, it has our ID on the order and the carrier pays us the agreed upon commission for the service that was ordered by a Walnut Telecom support person.
- Walnut Telecom(Master Agent) represents itself as the carrier from a sales, service, and solution standpoint
- Agents are authorized by the carrier to sell its complete line of products and services
- Customers are not required to sign a special agreement to work with an agent, just like they are not required to sign agreements with a direct sales team.
- Agents have access to all of the same ordering and billing systems as a direct carrier team.
- Whether you are direct or indirect sales team, you don’t have the ability to actually fix circuit problems. Both channels are reliant on the repair organizations for that carrier to resolve repair issues. Account teams can escalate and “birddog” repair issues on behalf of the customer.
- Walnut Telecom has 150 years of collective experience in managing repair problems and escalating on our customer’s behalf.
- All contracts will be directly with the carrier, not resold Walnut Telecom contracts
- All billing will come directly from the carrier – not through Walnut Telecom
- All existing contracts stay in place; there is no “conversion” to Walnut Telecom because Walnut Telecom is a sales arm of the carrier
- Walnut Telecom is not an aggregator or reseller of telecommunications services;
- Walnut Telecom is an additional sales channel for these different carriers.
- There is no extra charge to work with Walnut Telecom; Walnut Telecom is compensated directly by the carrier as their sales channel
- The customer pays identical rates whether working with the direct team, with Walnut Telecom, or both
- Agents have the same reporting structure as a direct sales team- Sales manager, Director, Sales VP and Executive Sales VP. Both the direct and indirect sales channels meet at the Executive Vice President level.
- Due to Walnut Telecom Group’s size, we have access to the executive levels with all of our carrier partners.
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