April 23, 2018
**Editor’s Note: Read our list of 20 top UCaaS providers offering products and services via channel partners.**
Differentiation and keeping up with changes in technology and customer demand were some of the issues raised during last week’s Thunderdome featuring top UCaaS suppliers CallTower, RingCentral, Vonage and Windstream Enterprise.
(left to right: CallTower’s William Rubio, Vonage’s Bob Crissman, RingCentral’s Zane Long and Windstream Enterprise’s Chuck Flaherty)
The lively forum took place during the Channel Partners Conference and Expo. The suppliers faced a packed room as attendees were anxious to learn more about them and their strategies.
Some of the highlights included:
Zane Long, RingCentral‘s senior vice president of global channel sales, said UCaaS is the product of the century, and “if you’re not focusing on UCaaS right now, you’re making a mistake.” With just 7 percent penetration globally, why look at any other product when there’s lots of money to be made in UCaaS? he asked.
Bob Crissman, Vonage‘s senior vice president and channel chief, said the UCaaS suppliers “all kind of have the same stuff … it all kind of looks the same.” True differentiation comes from listening to customers and knowing what they need, and then “solving bigger problems.”
Chuck Flaherty, Windstream Enterprise‘s vice president of sales engineering, said consistency is important and customers “don’t want one size fits all.” It’s about designing a solution right the first time — followed by effective implementation, monitoring and management.
William Rubio, CallTower‘s chief revenue officer, said when it comes to digital transformation, organizations increasingly prefer apps over devices, and want to work with one or two vendors. He also said selling UCaaS is “really about educating your customers.”
Rick Beckers, president of CloudTech1 and member of the Channel Partners Editorial Advisory Board, was one of the moderators. He wondered if the panelists above were differentiating their products enough.
“If I’m going to invest in a brand, I want to invest in a brand that isn’t going to be stagnant and has already started thinking about Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity,” Beckers told Channel Partners after the event. “The topic was UCaaS … and IoT devices are going to have to have a way to communicate with whatever it is that they’re coming back to. I was really surprised that they didn’t pick up on the fact that that’s going to be necessary. … As an MSP I’m making decisions on brands that I want to go after — and they missed the mark there a little bit for me.”
Beckers also said he wanted to hear more about execution management and how much investing in project management goes to execution because “that will win or lose you a deal.”
“I don’t have control over that because it’s hosted and the vendor does all of the execution,” he said. “You’re there to provide oversight, but if that doesn’t go well, my reputation is damaged with that customer,” he said. “So I potentially could lose existing recurring revenue because they’ve not protected my reputation by doing bad execution.”
Moderator Shane Stark, Carrier Access’ director of operations – and also an Editorial Advisory Board member – says everyone evolves differently.
“There [are] probably a lot of companies here that have sold a lot of UCaaS, and there [are] probably some companies in that room that haven’t sold any,” he said. “It’s a different …
… kind of sales because your classic connectivity agent of the world [isn’t] just selling circuits anymore — so it’s truly a solutions sale and fixing business problems.”
The suppliers are “all the same, but yet they’re all still different, and people have to pick someone that they’re comfortable with,” Stark said.
“As them being as close as they are to each other in similarities, there [are] going to be differences behind the curtain,” he added. “As an agent and a salesperson, when you can sell a product that typically adds revenue every year without doing anything, that’s a big deal. You sell a 25-seat deal today and you go add to that – other features, functionality, more people – and that revenue should continue to grow while (other revenue) on the connectivity side goes down every time you have to renew it on the bandwidth side.”
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