Russell Lux, CEO of TelcoSwitch, reveals how the channel can be successful in driving unified communications (UC) sales within the SMB sector.
This is a complex space to define and understand as it is a huge market, but we are seeing some distinct trends that the channel need to address if they are to prove successful in meeting the needs of businesses buying hosted services in 2016.
The communications market is incredibly vibrant and growing because more so than ever organisations of all shapes, sizes and industries are waking up to the business benefits which can be gained by having an effective communication platform installed within their business network.
The key issue to address from a sales perspective is that low touch sales are on the decline. SMBs have a variety of options when buying hosted VoIP or UC services. And more importantly the model is different.
If you are selling an on-premise solution the channel business model has historically been built around a hardware purchase and often a software license for the applications. With a hosted sale the business is subscribing to a service. Hardware may or may not be part of the deal, and the main relationship may also change and that means dramatically increased competition.
The challenge for the channel is therefore clear, as businesses move on from VoIP to UC, their needs become more complex, requiring more direct involvement from the service provider and that in turn means a rethink from the channel on how they sell – from simple price driven, on-premise one-off sales, to a subscription based, solutions driven approach.”
The second major trend is that the overall market for UC is growing. Service providers have many lines of business, including business VoIP, residential VoIP, SIP trunking, hosting, mobility, data services and wholesale services.
The mix will vary, but for SMBs looking at hosted VoIP/UC, it will be important to know that this is a core offering. For the channel the challenge is being able to offer a solution that addresses the needs of the SMB not only today but into the future, so finding a solutions provider which is focused on delivering the exact needs of the user, whether it be for mobile, connectivity or hosted telephony communications, and all supported within a cost-effective framework, will be critical.
The final trend we are seeing is what I would call the death of the desk phone as the SMB market migrates from CPE or Customer Premise Equipment – to soft phones.
The rise of the so-called soft phone includes a greater reliance on mobile devices, on PCs, on tablets, and on browser-based clients. This trend is consistent with the rise of hosted solutions being sold primarily as a subscription service with minimal hardware. The ongoing licensing revenue from soft phones makes them financially attractive, resulting in SMBs turning to channel partners and service providers that can increasingly support this option when selling hosted VoIP/UC.”
Russell Lux is CEO of TelcoSwitch