March 29, 2018
**Editor’s Note: “7 Minutes” is a feature where we ask channel executives from startups – or companies that may be new to the Channel Partners audience – a series of quick questions about their businesses and channel programs.**
Hosted VoIP and UC provider Cytracom is looking to help partners bring voice into the uptime and business-continuity discussion while proactively meeting customer quality-of-service (QoS) expectations. The company’s Ivie, or Integrated Voice Intelligence Engine, has two modules. The first is for voice continuity, to protect customers’ service uptime in the event of an interruption or disaster. MSPs can create voice-continuity policies and set trigger thresholds for when contingency plans should be launched.
The second module, Active Intelligence Monitoring, due in the second quarter, will analyze patterns in call data to detect anomalies and notify partners when intervention is needed, ideally before the customer notices there’s a problem. Partners can log in and view call-quality reports and share that info with customers. Here’s a rundown of how VARs and MSPs can succeed in the VoIP market.
Cytracom’s Eric Pinto
The company sells only through the channel and offers month-to-month pricing. A $27.95 per-seat monthly fee for companies with fewer than 30 employees includes the Ivie modules, the UC features you’d expect, phone hardware with integrated PoE (yes, desk phones are still relevant) and around-the-clock, U.S.-based support.
We spoke with channel chief Eric Pinto, who has been with Cytracom since October, about Ivie and the company’s commitment to the channel – including a tripling of the channel team in the past four months – and how it’s working to stand out from a crowded UCaaS field.
Channel Partners: Tell us what customers love about your product or service. What’s the secret selling sauce?
Eric Pinto: It’s “VoIP made simple.” Cytracom offers MSPs a VoIP platform built to meet the specific needs of the partner community. That uniquely positions us to provide a layer of access and control that our channel partners may not find elsewhere. Another key differentiator for us is the confidence and comfort our channel partners have in their relationships with our Cytracom team. They know we will always put them first to support both partner and end-user concerns and continue to innovate and develop tools that aid their voice experience.
Ivie is a great example of the innovation and enablement Cytracom is bringing to market. The first component of Ivie, voice-continuity policies, provides both our partners and end-users with peace of mind that they have a plan in the event of an Internet outage, that they will be able to quickly resume calls — and business.
CP: Describe your channel program — metal levels, heavy on certifications, open or selective, unique features? Do you work with masters and/or distributors?
EP: Our channel program is solely focused on the MSP channel. When we sign up a partner, we provide them with a free demo phone so they can become familiar with our solution and use it when they meet with customers. Additionally, we have a full range of online training for our partners to enable them to ramp up quickly when adding voice services to their portfolios. When the partner completes all of our training modules and becomes certified on our solution, they can sell Cytracom’s service with no contracts.
We recently ramped up our team to include channel-engagement managers who are focused on helping our partners get up to speed and productive quickly after coming on board. We also have …
… dedicated account managers that are always available for demos, technical questions and to help with quotes. We currently do not work with master agents or distributors.
CP: Quick-hit answers: Percentage of sales through the channel, number of partners, average margin. Go.
EP: 100 percent of our sales are through the channel. We have 1,300-plus partners in North America — and growing daily.
CP: Who are your main competitors, and what makes your offering better?
EP: In the VoIP space, there are many competitors, both large and small. RingCentral and Nextiva are two of the bigger ones. Without question, it is a very crowded market. What sets us apart are three things:
Channel only: We only sell through the channel. We don’t have any conflict between direct and indirect sales teams.
Proprietary platform: We made the investment early to build our own platform so we would have control over the solutions we bring to market and support.
Ivie: Our new intelligent voice platform and voice-continuity solution enable our partners to effectively add voice to the business-continuity discussions they are having with their customers.
CP: How do you think your technology portfolio will change in the next three years?
EP: Wow, three years. Given the quick pace of tech evolution we might just talk directly into our fingertips in three years. It’s funny, someone recently said the business phone market was dead; I would counter with the reality that it’s even more critical today. The simple fact is that the devices (access points) and platforms are changing — moving from legacy, premises-based deployments to the cloud. In either case, the need to be able to effectively communicate, whether down the hall or across oceans, continues to be a requirement. Our portfolio will evolve to support that market demand from our partners and customers.
CP: How do you expect your channel strategy to evolve over that time frame?
EP: Our channel strategy is a simple one: Engage our partners where they are. You will see the Cytracom team actively participating and deeply entrenched in the MSP channel. We are sponsoring community events and engaging in partner ecosystems.
We will continue to ask, listen and respond to the needs of the community effectively and in real time. This truly is a partnership. Cytracom values our partners and the relationships we have developed over time and continue to develop today.
In the last four months, we have tripled the size of our channel team. We emphasize personal attention from our team for partners to enable their success. We will continue to grow this team to match our partner growth to maintain our high-touch approach.
CP: What didn’t we ask that partners should know?
EP: We are celebrating our 10-year anniversary this year. We have built our profitable business with the help of our valuable partner ecosystem over those 10 years by providing a solid product and establishing a strong relationship with our partners. So we are not a new company; we have been around and plan on being here for our partners for a long time to come!
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