There is a lot of talk about the big money that Agents and VAR's can make if they just switch over to sell Managed Services and Cloud Services. Here are some facts about cloud.
M5 had the highest ARPU (average invoice per customer) when ShoreTel bought them - at $2000. Most other cloud communications providers hint at lower ARPU - maybe around $1000 per customer. However, 8x8 and Cbeyond are public and their cloud ARPU sits at between $200 and $250.
When you examine the "cloud services" of many carriers, it is just Hosted Exchange, Sharepoint and maybe some backup. That's $9 + $10 + $20 = $39 per user per month. Add in a Hosted PBX seat at $30 and you are now at $69 per month. For 20 employees, that's not a bad billing invoice for Agents, but it is also an unlikely sale. What small business will pay $1380 per month for phone and email? A PRI at $550 plus maybe $100 for the PBX lease and $50 per YEAR for Google has you covered. Add in some Dropbox and Bingo!
This isn't to discourage you. It's to put a pin in the hype balloon, which is starting to annoy me.
That leaves Agents chasing 20-99 employees - since that is a majority of the businesses in the US. Let's call the average 40. If you sell that business the full boat: Internet, Hosted voice, email and backup - the ARPU is worth it. The sales cycle will be longer. The deployment will require more input and project management than Agents are used to. (In fact, it is more than most carriers have ever had to do!!!) Post-sales support will also be required. So overall, it is a lot more work for a stickier client with more ARPU than you are used to. Are you up for that challenge?
Let's go back to the 8x8 example at $256 of ARPU. That's about a 9 employee shop. So you sell them 8x8 voice, cable modem AND another broadband service (like DSL or 4G or fixed wireless). You offer them Google Apps for SMB via NeoNova for some small change. Add in some Mozy Pro back-up (or Carbonite or other backup service that pays you). Next you try to get the cell phones - there has to be a couple that are corporate owned -- for a few more dollars. Don't forget the 4G data plan.
So you wrapped up the Internet Access, mobility, voice, some DR (disaster recovery), backup, email and office suite. After that, what software do they use? How about Conferencing? Do you see? You have to grab the whole wallet (or you can't make much money).
It has to become a lot like McD's. What do they do? A call center hits you first in the drive-thru with, "Would you like to try our ______ special today?" No. "okay. Order when you are ready." But don't forget "Do you want fries with that? or can we Super Size that for you?" It sounds cheesy but you are going to have to do it.
CenturyLink, XO, MegaPath and quite a few other carriers offer transit, Hosted voice and cloud services. It will all be on one bill, with one carrier to blame, with one throat to choke. It makes it easier to sell --- check boxes on an order form or site survey.
You better hurry because the MSP's like MindShift and others are already out there doing this.
When you consider that Parallels AS platform allows hosting companies - like Intermedia.Net - to sell, bill and deploy these services (Hosted PBX, email, storage, office) with a click on an online order page, spend this month - the last month of 2012 - deciding what your plan is going to be for 2013. While I hate the hype, many of your competitors are already targeting your customers. Selling them a T1 will be easy after they sell them VDI or backup or Hosted PBX. Then what do you do?
Again, you have to do it but I wanted you to have a realistic view of what it was going to be like. You have vacuum up the services - all of them - heck, sell them office supplies if someone will pay you for it! Managed Print anyone ;)