The VAR is Dead and Partner is Born
In a session titled how to make Money selling VoIP Robert Messer spoke today about how resellers need to evolve to become successful. Robert who works for ABP Technology a distributor of communications solutions mentioned resellers who embrace innovation are most successful. He says you must partner with your customers.
To be a reseller is the wrong paradigm he mentions. The most successful resellers reposition themselves as technology partners – not resellers. He says you need to offer services as well as products. You need maintenance contracts and to find ways to become part of the company you are selling to. As SMBs cannot afford many technology workers you can make money helping companies who don’t have huge technology staffs.
He went on to say you should define yourself as an IP communication specialist – focusing on open-standard based solutions. He says there are devices which allow a company to have resilient internet service relying on DSL and cable. If you approach a company with an innovative solution such as this he says you become a technology partner.
Next up was Don Gant from Iwatsu who started his presentation by asking the audience what is important to them in business. Making money and retaining employees were a few of the answers. He asked what is important to the customer and the audience agreed that customers have the same desires.
Don asked a member of the audience why he purchased the car he drives. The response was the van did what he wanted at the right price point. It was a Kia by the way. Don said that in this case if the dealer gave him a great deal on a pink VW convertible he would have likely declined the offer.
The point? The product has to be the right one for the customer.
Don went on to read some statistics on employees working from home and how this trend is continuing. He also mentioned studies show the work at home employees are more productive and bring in more revenue than their counterparts in the office.
“UC provides customers with the ability to be in contact” was a pertinent quote Don made and he went on to say the cell phone has to be part of a UC solution and the desktop must be extended onto the smartphone with embedded software and presence.
He wrapped up by saying we need to consult with customers to help them grow their companies, make money and allow employees to be more productive.
Brit Vickner of Interactive Intelligence talked about how products could eat into margins as they require frequent service calls. In datacom he says occasionally resellers may put in a telecom system with limited prep work and this doesn’t work well in telecom.
Brit mentioned telecom vendors do a great job with coordination – the service provider, call flows and more. You must build proper expectations he says. “You must have a process” he exclaimed. Brit continued, “You can always plug in products and technology into the process.”
The number one thing is that the customer adopts your position he says. We need to sell solutions and get the end users to use them as well.
Products need to be flexible and open he mentioned. “More open standards is the key.” This allows you to evolve he mentions.
Brit went on to say you want an SMB play and an upmarket play. He also mentions you need to stay away from commodity products.
In the Q&A session the theme once again revolved around partnering and not reselling with all panelists agreeing. As a moderator I would have preferred more dissent to spice things up but when you are right you are right and the panelists all knew it. It seems the reseller is dead and the partner is born.
If you missed this session come to future ITEXPOs to stay up to date on making money selling VoIP/unified communications.