Category: Channel

The hidden value in the Internet of Things.

A Huge New Opportunity for Channel Partners in the Internet of Things

The hidden value in the Internet of Things.The emergence of the internet of things (IoT) has caused both disruption and excitement in the channel in recent years. Concerns around security have bubbled up right alongside anticipation for what the world of internet-connected devices will bring to the enterprise. Mobility opportunities aside, the internet of things means bigger sales for channel partners because a few factors:

A massive market. Goldman Sachs study notes that the internet of things is expected to connect around 28 billion devices by 2020. The bandwidth that is going to be required to maintain the connectivity of those 28 billion devices is something not even Goldman Sachs can wrap its mind around. Broadband needs are only set to increase. Partners should take note now.

Supreme customizationThe internet of things can represent an opportunity for any channel partner to offer pricing plans specifically built around IoT devices. Do you have companies that are looking for both mobility plans, BYOD policies, compliance requirements for devices, as well as security? You can look at the bigger package to consider how best to sell to companies adopting more connected devices.

Data value. Telecom companies stand to gain another way with the internet of things, and that’s through the data pools that will be created from businesses using IoT devices. This in turn becomes the fodder for key insights, which spur product development and lets you build solutions potential customers were only starting to wonder about.

Market distinctiveness. It’s hard to compete as a channel partner; speed and bandwidth are largely universal, and that means price and customer service are the two competitive edges left. With the internet of things, you can not only customize your offerings to the user’s needs, but you can also separate yourself from the provider pack by offering such solutions in the first place. Throw in extras like a router that offers cloud storage and stay by your customers so they know you’re dedicated to them. These actions will help differentiate you.

How to Take Advantage of the Internet of Things in Selling

There’s no doubt that IoT represents an excellent opportunity to make sales. When you want to put that kind of power on your side, start by getting in touch with us at MicroCorp. As a master agent, we’re ready to step in with education, expertise, and support.

What are the ways to boost your UCaaS sales?

Four Ways You Can Improve Your Ability to Sell UCaaS

What are the ways to boost your UCaaS sales?There’s little doubt that the unified communications as a service (UCaaS) market is swelling. An Infonetics report suggests the market will hit $88 billion by the end of this year. That’s a lot of room for opportunity, but how can partners get their hands in the pot? A few tips should help pave the way – check out these four options for boosting your UCaaS sales.

How to Drive Your UCaaS Sales

Protect the customer. The amount that downtime costs a company varies. Boosting your UCaaS sales, therefore, can be as easy as calling attention to your protective measures. Focus on your security, your highly-trained staff of problem solvers, and your quality of service (QoS) agreement if you have one. If you don’t, making one is a good plan; that guarantee, complete with remedies for failure, can smooth over a lot of concerns.

Support remote workers. More and more companies are embracing the remote worker concept. UCaaS is a great tool to keep remote workers working, so draw attention to that point and show how you make remote working, well, work! Point out how a customer’s remote-working employees can use UCaaS tools to stay connected to each other and the wider office and improve accountability.

Adjust your sales tactics. Understand one thing about the sales environment today: sales tactics that were a requirement 20 years ago like cold calling and telemarketing are mostly illegal today. “No soliciting” signs on business doors, the federal Do Not Call list…these add up to outdated tactics. So adjust to focus on social media interaction, qualified leads, and the like to keep up. Those more modern channels present an opportunity to interact with (and possibly become) thought leaders in the UCaaS world.

Get to know your customer’s true needs. The only way to ensure a truly successful UCaaS sale is to get inside your customer’s business, understand the issues and obstacles at hand, and then recommend the right UCaaS solution for the job. Sales reps who are uneducated about UCaaS and just sell to sell won’t get as far as a knowledgeable partner devoted to truly understanding the customer’s pain points.

Make Those UCaaS Sales with a Little Help

Sometimes, making UCaaS sales can be as simple as adding some new products to your lineup. We here at MicroCorp can help on that front; we’ve got a range of UCaaS services ready to offer from some of the best brands in the field. As a master agent, we’ve got the contacts you need to get the best product in place. Just drop us a line and let us help you get started.

Get the most out of channel partner sales.

Sell to Your Customers Forever with Recurring Revenue Strategies

Get the most out of channel partner sales.One of the greatest advances in sales is the concept of subscription selling. While this was huge for publications, only recently has it been applied to other markets. From snacks to toiletries and beyond, the notion of getting a customer to pay monthly for a recurring shipment of goods is catching on, effectively allowing businesses to sell to their customers forever. In the channel, meanwhile, subscription sales allow technology-related firms to do the exact same thing.

Channel partner sales that include recurring revenue strategies offer distinct advantages over normal selling.

Added credibility. By being the one a company turns to for technological advice, you put yourself in a prime position to offer new solutions to address current problems, often available on a subscription basis. As Sean Tario, VP of MicroCorp Cloud Elements division, put it, partners often don’t know what options are out there, or they can’t sort their way through the acronyms involved. A partner who can, therefore, becomes prized. And a  prized partner has a leeway he or she likely didn’t have before, especially when it comes to recommending new technology options.

Head off obsolescence. These days, technology is “auto-catalytic.” That means it provides the fuel necessary to evolve into its next state. It provides its own catalyst for growth and change. So effectively, by the time you learn enough about one technology to sell it, the learning is already moot; the technology has changed. Stay in-the-know about evolving technologies through your partner ecosystem and advance your sales.

Monetize your own services. Subscription sales with sticky customers mean sales that happen over and over again. There’s no need for prospecting or the like; the sales largely just happen thanks to the customer’s dependence on the partner, and the partner’s ability to keep up with customer demand. By monetizing your own services, you continue to create more opportunity for yourself.

Expanded revenue potential. Recurring sales are great, but now, you’ve got new opportunities to make sales that weren’t there before. Your partner ecosystem can help you learn about new technologies, migrate from old ones, and develop the knowledge to go back to old clients and see if there are gaps that can be filled in.

When You Need Help Setting Up Recurring Revenue Opportunities

Setting up channel partner sales that are recurring requires you to have the right mix of things to offer. If you don’t already have these in your stable, or you’re looking for some added diversity in the lineup, drop us a line at MicroCorp. We help partners sell a wide range of technologies, covering unified communications and software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) among others that help you offer up the perfect package for recurring sales.

Do you really dig into your customer's needs before suggesting a UCaaS solution?

How Agents and Partners Can Leverage the Rise of UCaaS in the Enterprise

By Ryan Harrelson, VP of Engineering at Light Networks

Do you really dig into your customer's needs before suggesting a UCaaS solution?

Unified Communications (UC) is a service that grants users the ability to work with each other across any platform from anywhere. It eliminates obstacles in productivity, making it easy for enterprises of any size to enjoy frictionless interactions regardless of location. Perhaps that’s why, here at Light Networks, we’re inundated with an overwhelming number of UC projects. In fact, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is — without a doubt — our fastest growing cloud and carrier service.

As an agent in the partner community, how we approach customers is exceedingly important. We often remind our clients that, while they may overhaul their communications systems once every 5 years, we design and deploy solutions across multiple providers and multiple customers on an ongoing basis. That’s why we’ve made it our objective to look beyond the marketing side of a product. Unfortunately, not everything you hear about UC platforms is what it seems.

Fill the void

To resolve this issue, agents need to think about how they’ll fill the void between the strengths and weaknesses of these providers, and what the customer desires. This can become even more challenging as companies transition from a small business to enterprise territory. Personally, I don’t see many enterprise customers getting excited about new features. Rather, they seem focused on talking about the total cost of ownership, and they’re looking to get rid of on-prem servers, which pose both a risk and a responsibility.

When an enterprise purchases an on-prem solution, you have no option but to purchase features for the entire organization. In reality, though, the majority of an organization’s employees aren’t superusers of any particular product. For the most part, they only use a tool for its core functionality. For example, 99% of what I do personally with UCaaS at Light Networks is make and receive phone calls. It’s not as if I’m playing around with advanced features on a regular basis.

It is still important for us to show our customers the “sexy” products and features sets end users want to see. As the saying goes: “sex sells.” It is even more important as an agent to pay attention to effectively using the customers’ budgets to give them what they need by reducing the management footprint. This increases an organization’s ability to satisfy the needs of their external and/or internal customers. Further, it helps agents provide additional services that can help customers succeed and make the agent more valuable, while increasing wallet share in a single customer.

So, how?

How can partners distinguish the marketing fluff from important concepts they need to sell to customers? We recommend an approach that’s a bit different from our competitors. At Light Networks, we aim to spend time understanding our customers’ environments and solutions that can work for our customers, instead of merely taking end-users at their word and assuming they know exactly what they need and exactly how to use it. It’s the whole trust-but-verify model. It’s wonderful when a customer says they can do X, Y, and Z, but we like to do a full review of usage to ensure they are not missing anything that they may not recognize is required.

If someone tells you they’ve got the greatest solution for your business, you don’t just go all in right away. You install and test it before you make a full-blown commitment to it. It’s more about being diligent in your practices and not rushing through the sale and trying to get ink on paper. It’s about taking the time and spending it with your customer to ensure all of the features they want are actually required.

Engineering First

And if you’re wondering how Light Networks has been so successful in the marketplace, it all starts with us being an engineering-first firm. When one of our client principals or account managers meets with a customer, they ask a ton of questions and gather plenty of data. Then, they bring that information back to our engineers to find out what they think. If our engineers say we need more information, we’ll schedule a secondary call. But if they say some of our providers might have certain solutions that fit perfectly, we dig deeper to find out if those providers are truly viable.

Every provider will tell you they offer the best services around. And it’s not that they’re lying  — at least hopefully not. For the most part, they likely believe their product is better than the competition. However, I feel like it’s our responsibility to be honest and upfront with our customers. Otherwise, what are we doing?

It’s imperative to understand your customers’ situation first, before recommending a solution. So use your experience, and make the best recommendation based on your customers’ needs.

What is Nextiva bringing to the channel partner table?

Spotlight on Nextiva: ‘Change Your Ability to Communicate with Your Customers’

What is Nextiva bringing to the channel partner table?Here at MicroCorp, we like to stay in touch with our partners. We also like to make sure that they get the spotlight every once in a while. That’s why I sat down with Ira Feuerstein, Channel Chief of Nextiva, to get his perspective on what Nextiva is bringing to market, where he sees the channel headed, and his thoughts on some emerging trends. Read on to learn what Nextiva is bringing to the partners’ table. 

Keenan: What is the primary pain that your business or offering addresses?

Feuerstein: Nextiva is a true Unified Communications company, creating products to help businesses navigate their customers journey through their organization.  Through offering a robust group of communications services including hosted VoIP, web chat, surveys, email marketing, CRM, and more, Nextiva has a full suite of products that truly change businesses’ abilities to communicate with their customers.

Keenan: What is the most important thing for a partner to know about what you provide?

Feuerstein: Partners really need to understand that the communications world is growing ever more complicated and that offering a solution rather than just “slapping a product in for a customer” will offer them the ability to make much more money and have a more stable and loyal customer base. 

Keenan: If you could get one question from any prospective partner or customer, what would it be?

Feuerstein: The question I always love from a partner/customer is: “What makes you different than every other provider out there?” I literally break out in a huge smile every single time! The truth of it is that the industry is full of “me too” companies – not many unicorns like Nextiva! We get that question, we win 99% of the time.  

Keenan: What would your answer be to that question?

Feuerstein: There are three core parts of that answer…three legs that hold us up.

  • Leg 1 – we have a tenacious commitment to 100% amazing service. It’s everything to us. We track it, we hold ourselves accountable to it every single day.
  • Leg 2 – We have great technology. Nine data centers across North America, fully redundant and cross-connected into all the major ISP companies (like Comcast, AT&T, etc.) for great quality of calls.
  • Leg 3 – We are jumping innovation curves by allowing our customers to have a full suite of communications services that tie together in a perfect way. By connecting your voice, web chat, customer surveys, social media monitoring, and CRM systems, businesses will ALWAYS have a finger on the pulse of their customers. No one else in the industry does this…no one!

Keenan: What do you think is the most important emerging technology right now, and why?

Feuerstein: I really believe artificial intelligence is super key in technology. AI allows us to monitor all customer interactions and make proactive decisions and implement actions accordingly. Imagine this: Nextiva is monitoring social media for you and our system sees a positive tweet about you. The system can analyze the tweet, understand it is positive, and score the customer as being very happy with you. Once a customer is considered very happy, then do something, like perhaps sell them something new.  I’m sure you can see the power of this.

Keenan: What technology or trend will be the most significant in the coming year, and why?

Feuerstein: To me, it’s really teaching the best of the best partners how to solution-sell and not just go down the path of just selling voice or data. With our new suite of services, you can start anywhere in the communication stack. Example:  just sell them chat as an easy way in and then backdoor your way into everything else.

Keenan: What would you recommend for partners who are trying to transition to new technologies?

Feuerstein: Don’t try to be an expert in everything, but do get educated. Use your Nextiva team (one of our 45 local Channel Managers or our big Sales Engineering team) to help you go to market.  Know enough to get the customer interested and then bring the subject matter experts in to help seal the deal.

Want to know even more about how Nextiva can boost your business? Contact MicroCorp today.

Buyer personas are the key to channel partner marketing.

Channel Partner Marketing: Who Are You Targeting?

Buyer personas are the key to channel partner marketing.Powerful channel partner marketing begins with a clear understanding of who you’re targeting. You want to identify your ideal buyer personas, so you can more easily attract and capture those types of people as leads and customers.

To help illustrate this point, let’s look at an example.

Who done it?

A crime has been committed, and it’s your job to find out what it was and who did it. You hire two experts to gather all the info they can on the crime and the criminal, and you ask them to share their findings.

Expert A presents this information:

  • The criminal is a male age 40-45
  • Height: 5’10”-6’; weight 210 lb. with a muscular build
  • Bald with a goatee
  • Drives a black Honda Civic
  • Wears Oakley sunglasses
  • Lives in Lorain County, Ohio
  • The crime was a stolen 100 Grand candy bar from an employee’s cubicle
  • The crime was committed out of revenge for someone taking the last donut

Expert B presents the following:

  • Crime was petty theft
  • The criminal is a human, most likely male
  • He has a pulse and enjoys eating, sleeping, breathing, and short runs on the sidewalk

Which expert would you hire to help you solve the case? Hopefully the answer is obvious.

To be successful, “profile” your target audience

While this is an extreme (and silly) example, it isn’t far off from many of the telecom channel partners we speak to about their marketing. When we ask, “Who are you targeting?” they usually answer, “We can help anyone!”

While of course you can service anyone with a pulse, it doesn’t make sense from a marketing perspective. Without a focus, your message, campaigns, and overall marketing strategies will lack the punch they could have.

So before you spend another dollar on anything channel partner marketing related, complete the following exercise. This will help you define your buyer personas, or like in our example, “profile your criminal.”

Discover your buyer personas

Take a look at a list of your current customers. Use your CRM or an Excel spreadsheet to help you track each contact and the quantities of each category.

  • Who are the decision makers?
  • The influencers?
  • Researchers?
  • Anyone else involved in the buying process?

At this stage, we want to cast a wide net and analyze everyone involved and what their involvement is. This will help you immensely later on.

Next, let’s add your top 25 prospects to the list. There could be some overlap here with your current customers, but if you’re targeting a new market segment, this could be totally different. Ask the same questions as above and keep track of your answers.

Finally, group the similar types of people together, and this should help you identify your personas. Most channel partners we work with have the following common personas:

  • SMB owner
  • IT Director / CIO
  • CFO

Not surprisingly, the IT / telecom buying process is increasing in complexity with more people involved than ever before. Check out this guide to attracting IT buyers for step-by-step info.

Research each buyer persona

Once you have your different personas identified, get to know as much as you can about each of them. Remember our criminal profile? Follow the same pattern and go both wide and deep on the information you gather.

  • Demographic dataAge range, gender, nationality, primary language, educational background, etc.
  • Behavioral data: Likes and dislikes, brand loyalties, interests, and hobbies.
  • Marketing dataBlogs they read, newsletters they subscribe to, how they stay up to date with market trends, conferences they attend, social media outlets they use, etc.

Hopefully you already know some of these things by virtue of your relationship with your customers, but other items may require further research. You can research via online surveys, or you may want to conduct in-person or phone interviews.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • What are your biggest pain points, questions, and concerns as they relate to your role?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • What types of Google searches do you do?
  • What problems, if solved, would make your work easier?
  • Can you quantify how much it would help you (time/money saved, etc.)?
  • Where do you get your info? Magazines, events, or social platforms you participate in?

Add questions as you need to. Learn as much as possible about your personas, their pain, their preferences, and their behaviors. Armed with this information, all your future marketing strategies will be more targeted, and therefore, more powerful.

Here’s more in-depth information on creating buyer personas for the telecom channel.

Stay tuned next week as we discuss the next step in your channel partner marketing journey: using this buyer persona information to create stand-out messaging.

Using digital transformation to improve channel partner sales.

Improve Your Channel Partner Sales with Digital Transformation

Using digital transformation to improve channel partner sales.Improving channel partner sales is MicroCorp’s focus, and digital transformation can actually boost opportunities for partners. This process of moving from a hardware-focus to more of a software-focus is bringing with it some great new opportunities to make sales.

How Can I Use Digital Transformation to Drive Sales?

Since there are several facets involved in digital transformation, there are several ways to use it to make improve channel partner sales.

SD-WAN. One of the biggest digital transformation moves around, software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) is a great fit for businesses with multiple locations. It takes what’s already worked with WAN operations and expands on it by taking the focus off hardware and putting it more on software.

Unified communications. Unified communications systems incorporate voice, video, conferencing systems and more, it’s an excellent all-in-one package, and also provides a great opportunity for sales by offering the basic infrastructure points—or even the limited hardware required—to do the job right.

BYOD. The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) doctrine is a great cost-saver for businesses as employees bring their devices of choice to work. It takes some advance preparation to do correctly, though, so this is a good opportunity for channel partner sales in network security, Wi-Fi connectivity, and more.

Cloud services. While unified communications is a major cloud service, it’s not the only one. The cloud is increasingly offering a range of services from analytics to disaster recovery. Having these services on hand can mean excellent partner sales for businesses looking to branch out, better protect themselves, or perform a wide range of functions without having the hardware on hand.

Data center functions. Whether it’s on-premises, cloud-based, or a hybrid of the two, businesses are taking advantage of having their data immediately to hand and readily shared out throughout the organization. Channel partner sales benefit here, particularly for targets that have no data center or want to change the current one.

How Do I Get Started with Digital Transformation?

If you see opportunity in digital transformation, then the way to take advantage of it to start making more sales is to start working with a master agent, like us at MicroCorp. We can provide options for several stages of digital transformation. Plus, our Ultimate Partner Training program can help keep you on the cutting edge of new developments. So don’t let digital transformation pass you by; get in touch with us to get started making new channel partner sales.

Channel Partner Marketing: Your One-stop Resource

Channel Partner marketing is often a big source of stress for telecom agents, VARs, and MSPs alike. You’re a salesperson and a business owner, so you want your time to be focused on what you do best.

At the same time, you’ve probably noticed how the sales process has changed over the last few years. The old sales and marketing tricks just don’t work as well as they used to, which is both frustrating and expensive. Your prospects are making decisions without you, and more and more people are involved in the buying decisions than ever before.

For all of these reasons and more, it may seem like doing marketing well is a lot like hunting unicorns.

Introducing a Channel Partner Marketing Blog Series

That’s why we’ve put together this blog series specifically focused on effective marketing for Channel Partners. Each week, we will post a new blog covering topics like:

  • Clearly defining your target audience for more effective prospecting
  • Crafting a compelling message that clearly communicates your value proposition
  • Creating a lead generation website 
  • The do’s and don’ts of powerful lead generation campaigns 
  • Why and how to nurture leads through your sales funnel
  • LinkedIn sales prospecting
  • Leveraging content in your sphere (there’s lots of free stuff available)
  • Video marketing: how to use it in prospecting and sales
  • Social media tips & tricks
  • How SEO works, and more importantly, what not to do 
  • Must-have telecom marketing tools

As the industry’s first exclusive telecom marketing agency, we’re looking forward to sharing some no-fluff expertise that will get you real marketing results.

Please let us know if there are topics you would like covered that you don’t see here…we’re all ears!

Lastly, if you’re shopping for a marketing services provider, check out MarketRight, MicroCorp’s exclusive marketing program for its partners, powered by us at Mojo Marketing.

How do you build a WAN for your customers that can function today but scale for tomorrow?

How to Build the WAN that Can Take on Tomorrow

How do you build a WAN for your customers that can function today but scale for tomorrow?Building a wide-area network (WAN) isn’t as easy as plugging in a few cables and routers. It’s a safe bet that someone’s asked you about what to consider when building a WAN by now, because you’ve been working hard to establish yourself as an expert. So when your customers start asking you about a WAN, you’ll have an idea ready to go of what to keep in mind, and how you can fill that need.

In years past, the WAN was about connecting sites to other sites and work stations to other sites. As technology delivery models evolve, and cloud and mobility solutions become more widespread, it is more critical than ever to stay connected to those applications, see the health of your connections in real time, and be able to change at the speed of businesses today.

What Should I Keep in Mind When Building a WAN?

Keep these in mind to prevent the need for costly replacements and upgrades as long as possible. Basic design principals include resilient connectivity, visibility into the network, security, flexibility to make changes, and agility to add new sites rapidly.

Basic design. Some parts of the WAN are so basic they should be first off the bat.

  • Discovering new elements. Proper WAN architecture can determine quickly and effectively when new components are added to the network. This helps later in expansion or replacement if something goes wrong.
  • Performance measures. Establish means early on to measure network throughput, bandwidth, and latency. When you’ve done this, you’ll be better able to tell the difference between a network that’s slow because something’s wrong, or a network that’s slow because it wasn’t designed for the level of use it’s seeing. Having tools to analyze this data is critical to ensure optimal performance of applications running over the WAN.

The overall environment. The next point to consider is the overall environment, and how this new network fits into that. Design the network around your environment, not your environment around a clunky inflexible solution.

  • Current use levels. No one wants a network that’s already underpowered when it goes online. Consider your current staffing levels, the existing applications the network will run, and current access requirements to make sure what you’re building will even work with today’s needs.
  • Future use levels. With today’s demands in hand, start immediately looking at tomorrow’s. Look at likely future applications—especially those that are already planned—and immediately planned changes to staffing and use levels. Consider deliberately overbuilding to provide some future wiggle room.

How Do I Get Started Building the Best WAN?

Keeping these points in mind will go a long way toward designing a great WAN, and when it comes to making that design real, start by getting in touch with us at MicroCorp. With a wide range of partnerships across several key areas, we can help take that construction plan and make it a reality. Just drop us a line to get started.