Telarus Assessment Platform Update Aims to Give Sales Engineers More Time

Telarus launched its Cybersecurty Quick Solution Assesment (QSA) module almost a year ago.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

May 17, 2023

8 Min Read
touch screen, Telarus sales engineers

Technology services brokerage Telarus is launching the second module in its SolutionVue sales assessment platform, with a goal of helping technology advisors and Telarus sales engineers more quickly and efficiently conduct customer discovery.

Utah-based Telarus on Wednesday will unveil its Cloud Quick Solution Assessment (QSA) module in the SolutionVue suite. Telarus first announced SolutionVue in summer 2022 with a module for cybersecurity. The latest announcement centers on a technology bucket that includes cloud managed services, disaster recovery as a service, data center and colocation and advanced cloud technology.

Telarus partners can use the white-labeled modules to interview customers about their technology needs and automatically generate a list of Telarus suppliers that fit the customers’ criteria. That criteria includes the number of employees, the number of locations and the customer’s data center and cloud postures. The questionnaire pulls from a supplier database Telarus sales engineers assembled using the same questions, and at the end generates a word document with an assessment and cursory vendor recommendations. Telarus co-founder and chief product officer Patrick Oborn said the Cloud QSA took a year to build.

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Telarus’ Patrick Oborn

“It’s a lot of work on the back end, but we think that our partners in a 10-minute conversation can benefit from our 10,000 hours of work on this project,” Oborn told Channel Futures.

The next module in SolutionVue will tap into the contact center space, Oborn said.

More players in the TSB and tech services distributor (TSD) market have touted the software they’ve built to educate and equip their partners to sell. Notably, Telarus’ Chicago-based competitor Avant enhanced its Pathfinder pre-sales enablement tool. They describe these tools as an resource for historically small-staffed technology advisor firms to consult more effectively with their clients, especially in technology categories like cybersecurity that partners haven’t historically sold.


Telarus’ Koby Phillips

“Our cloud infrastructure sales engineers and solution architects have devoted extensive time and effort to author this guided-selling tool so that our technology advisors can engage in strategic conversations that may be outside of their comfort zone,” Koby Phillips, Telarus vice president of cloud and managed services, said.

Telarus partner Evok Technologies will use the Cloud QSA.  Evok managing partner Brandon Ivey said SolutionVue will help newer employees get more comfortable engaging in sales conversations about cloud.


Evok’s Brandon Ivey

“Having all the discovery questions in an easy step-by-step format, surrounded by our branding, ensures we are asking the right questions to acquire data we need to address the customer’s unique needs while helping us build our credibility. We plan to use SolutionVue extensively to grow our cloud infrastructure funnel,” Ivey said.

Impact on Sales Engineers

Oborn said SolutionVue functions in part as a way of freeing up more time for Telarus’ person sales engineering team.

Whereas solution architects get involved on large, complex sales with partners, the solutions engineers tend to help with SMB and midmarket opportunities. Telarus has grown its sales engineering team to 13 people, but Oborn said that crew faces the challenge of staying present with all of the partner requests for support.

“The number of partners that are bringing opportunities to us is overwhelming our human capacity to support them,” Oborn said.

(Above: Telarus CEO Adam Edwards speaks with James Anderson on Channel Futures TV at the 2023 Channel Partners Conference & Expo.)

Oborn said Telarus sales engineers are typically spending a great deal of time with newer partners. Either the engineers are coaching agents on how to sell a new technology or are jumping on customer assessment calls with the partner, Oborn said. That was eating up an “enormous” amount of time for those sales engineers, and in many cases, those assessment calls didn’t lead to an actual sales opportunity, he said. Jerry Goldman, who leads Texas-based technology consultancy and Telarus partner Select Communications, said his firm frequently turns to sales engineers for help. And historically that meant many customer discovery calls. Goldman said prior to SolutionVue’s launch last year, sales engineers 30% of the time would help the firm with a customer assessment only to find out that there wasn’t an actual opportunity.


Select Communications’ Jerry Goldman

“Think about the lost time for them, and we’re just one agency,” Goldman told Channel Futures. “Now we can qualify an opportunity.”

Oborn said his team hoped that creating an automated assessment tool could reduce the sales engineer’s workload by up to 30%.

“We have to do a higher quantity of assessments at a better quality without taxing the sales engineering team, and really reserving the sales engineering team for the deals that are that are ripe, that are winnable and where our partners can work with us and share value on that,” Oborn told Channel Futures.

Partner Impact

Telarus shared that new opportunities have increased twofold for Telarus partners following last year’s launch of the cybersecurity QSA module. SolutionVue engagement is growing by 35% per month, according to the company.

For Goldman’s Select Communications, the QSA served as a resource for his sales team to …

… dip their toes into the world of cybersecurity.

“It gave us comfort and a little bit of confidence in an area where we’re not really as proficient as we’d like to be right now,” he said.

Select years ago was selling conferencing solutions before making a pivot. Goldman says Select now plays strongly in UCaaS, CCaaS and connectivity. But in the area of cybersecurity, the firm benefits from following the road map SolutionVue provides, Goldman said.

“When you ask us to go sell other products outside of that suite of services, we really struggle,” Goldman told Channel Futures. “So having tools like that are critical for us to move into product categories that are just not in our sweet spot.”

But cybersecurity now represents a growing opportunity for the advisor. Goldman said the number of cybersecurity opportunities in the pipeline has grown 300% in the last six months. The company is seeking an overall growth of 40% year-over-year in 2023, Goldman said. And he added that Select is on track to meet that goal.

Oborn noted that the cybersecurity and cloud QSAs differ in how they frame the customer journey. Cybersecurity represented a newer area of investment for many end customers, and many of them were buying products in order to ensure eligibility for cyber insurance. Oborn said Telarus built the cybersecurity QSA to make sure technology advisors ran the client through the checklist of starting their cybersecurity posture. Cloud, on the other hand, represented a more mature market.

“Cloud was more around figuring out where people are now and helping them get to the next step,” Oborn said.

Artificial Intelligence

Oborn said Telarus plans to add AI to the suite to make more dynamic vendor recommendations based on survey data. In other words, if a supplier is getting increasingly good or bad reviews from partners, it would move in or out of the recommendations.

That touches on a challenge Channel Futures frequently hears from the technology advisor community about asking TSDs for supplier recommendations. Many partners have built close relationships with a trusted individual at a TSD (like a sales engineer or solutions architect), to whom they approach for vendor best-fits. They do that to ensure that individual’s recommendations are truly vendor-agnostic and don’t tie back to sponsorships.

AI and automation could potentially scale that trust, Goldman said.

“It will build more trust. Because if there’s AI built in and it’s built right, then the suppliers that come in [on the recommendations] should be based on the answers to the questions through SolutionVue,” said Goldman, who said his team did deals with more than 60 different Telarus suppliers in 2022.

Channel Futures has reported in the past on the “arms race” that is shaping up between TSDs to build tools for their partners to use. Avant’s BattleApp over the years has evolved into Pathfinder and recently updated to include a customer-facing version of the tool.


PlanetOne’s Jake Schuman

“We see on average that they produce roughly three times the revenue of the trusted advisors that don’t lean in and use the tool,” Avant vice president Jake Schuman told Channel Futures earlier this month.

Both Avant and Telarus have been expanding their personnel and tools with the help of investments from private equity firms Pamlico Capital and Columbia Capital, respectively.

Goldman said the increased presence of AI will take the arms race to a new level. He said he thinks AI will play more of a factor in differentiating the TSDs from one another and potentially spell trouble for the TSDs that don’t make investments.

“If I can go to ChatGPT and I can put some information there to tell me which UCaaS supplier to choose based on my requirements, then how can we utilize that in the frame of our business to use tools like SolutionVue or Pathfinder? Those tools are are essentially doing that, but AI is going to quickly advance what can be done through those tools,” he said.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email James Anderson or connect with him on LinkedIn.


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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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