Sunday, September 24, 2006

How Network Consultants Make Money

Network consultants, like all other small and medium business people, depend on a steady flow of business orders. These orders may come as unsolicited requests from people familiar with your technical skills and performance. Those requests are real gravy because you don't have to fight for the business. Chances are, though, to build a sustainable full-time income you need a lot more activity than what casually steps through the door. That's where the expensive and often unpleasant job of marketing comes in.

Here's an idea to supplement or perhaps eventually replace cold calling, print advertising, mailers and other costly or time consuming lead gathering techniques. Join a network that supplies you with warm leads from businesses in your area who are actively looking for technical consulting and/or networking equipment. By warm leads, I mean parties who are actively interested in buying expertise, physical assets or both. It's then up to you to convert these leads into closed orders.

So where does one find such a network? This is something fairly new, so you may not have heard of it. It's called the VAR Network. VAR as in Value Added Reseller, the term commonly applied to those who offer hardware or software plus the expertise to meet a client's need. As you probably know already, most potential clients don't really want to buy sophisticated networking components or systems and try to figure out how to get them working. They want a turnkey solution. That's where you come in, even if you aren't an authorized reseller yourself. There's always a need for experts in routers, wiring installation, adaptor cards, network architecture, security, VoIP and convergence, software upgrades and even staff training.

The VAR Network is an online resource where potential clients meet network consultants and other telecommunications experts. Businesses looking for a particular expertise or type of equipment or system enter their requirements into the database using a simple form. The system will then match up the customer requirement with records of VARs who can both offer the requested service plus provide service in the geographical area of the client. Matching VARs then have the opportunity of contacting the requester and bidding for the business. You can check out the VAR Network here.

Sounds good, but how much does this cost? There is no cost to clients seeking service or to VARs, including network consultants, to enter their data into the system. VARs fill out a questionnaire so that the database is aware of the range of products and/or services offered and in what specific locations. There is also a short phone interview. But no charges. Once approved, each VAR will start getting leads as the system matches up potential buyers with potential sellers.

This is not a charity system, though. When a warm lead results in a sale for the VAR, he or she is expected to remit a small percentage of the equipment and service charges back to the VAR Network. It's done on an honor system, but monitored. Anybody that cheats the system is cut off from receiving additional leads.

In addition to marketing that is provided on a "finders fee" type basis, The VAR Network also gives network consultants the opportunity to generate additional residual income from the sale of WAN network connections, such as T1 lines, Metro Ethernet, optical carriers, and so on. The VAR Network has telecommunication line experts who handle the details of closing the sale and preparing the contractual paperwork for the client. The VAR needs only to specify the basic requirements and contact information. The VAR then receives a monthly check based on the line charges to the end user.

If you are in the network consulting or business telephone system business, you have everything to gain by getting your information into the system so you can start getting more business leads as soon as possible. Unless you already have too much business, of course. In that case, be a pal and share this article with your less successful peers. Oh, you DO want additional targeted business leads yourself? OK, then. Start by entering some basic information about your services here.

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