Tag Archives: channel partners

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 “No soliciting” signs on business doors, the federal Do Not Call list…these add up to outdated tactics.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.

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.

Disaster recovery is one way to lead your customers to the cloud conversation.

Courting Customers with a Colocation-to-Cloud Strategy

Disaster recovery is one way to lead your customers to the cloud conversation.If your clients aren’t quite ready for cloud, here’s how can you help them go hybrid.

As cloud technology continues to evolve at an incredible rate, many businesses are eager to make the most of remote services and management tools. Some companies, however, are reluctant to upend their existing infrastructure for unfamiliar options. While this can present a serious struggle for agents seeking to bring their customers up to speed, it also opens the door for a conversation about a colocation-to-cloud strategy. And according to Sean Patrick Tario, trainer and VP of the new Cloud Elements Division for MicroCorp, disaster recovery serves as an ideal starting point.

“Many companies don’t have a disaster recovery program in place,” says Tario. “They might have backup, but backup isn’t disaster recovery. If your site goes down, backup means you don’t lose all your data. But with disaster recovery, if your site goes down, it will not stay down for very long, if at all.”

For most companies that own their infrastructure and have it colocated, this presents an opportunity for agents to talk about hosted disaster recovery, which is attractive to businesses because it removes the costly need for physical hardware upgrades. Once an agent starts talking to customers and walking them through how hosted disaster recovery works, that gets them thinking about what other applications can be hosted. And that’s why it’s crucial for agents to be aware of the applications and systems architecture their clients have in place.

“If an agent isn’t talking to their customers about what applications their business is running, they’re never going to get into any kind of cloud conversation,” says Tario. “You have to understand which applications they’re running 24/7/365, and, from there, you can piecemeal which data and applications can be hosted elsewhere versus owned. That’s the ideal way to begin this cloud conversation with a customer.”

Most companies already use Gmail, Salesforce, or Office 365, so they’re already operating a  hybrid environment to some extent. This offers another avenue into the cloud conversation and a discussion about which applications can be hosted elsewhere and which should remain on-premises. “Those are the kinds of key conversations we train agents to have with customers,” says Tario. “We give them a comfort level to start digging down these rabbit holes.”

Another important area to assess is a company’s total cost of ownership. If a company truly wants to cut costs, this is a conversation that must involve where applications are hosted.

“If a company is using physical gear in a colocation environment,” says Tario, “then those servers, switches, and routers are likely a couple of years old and ready for a hardware refresh. And if the customer is looking to do a hardware refresh, you should ask them if they’d consider saving a couple hundred thousands dollars on hardware, and instead renting or leasing that equipment for a fraction of the cost. Then tell them that’s exactly what a hosted environment is.”

Tario also reminds partners that it’s not only companies that pose challenges to a colocation-to-cloud conversation. Fear and insecurity also often prevent partners from pitching the cloud.

“Many partners fear not understanding or knowing what options are out there,” says Tario, “or they’re intimidated by the terminology and unfamiliar with all the acronyms. They’re hesitant to start talking about things they aren’t familiar with, because if a customer asks a question they don’t know the answer to, many partners will want to make something up. The correct answer to give, however, is: ‘That’s a great question. I don’t know the answer, but we have a dedicated team of engineers and solution architects that specialize in the cloud hosting environment, and I’d love to engage with them to have this conversation with you.’

That’s where MicroCorp’s Cloud Elements division comes in. This team specializes in asking customers insightful questions about their specific situations, so they can do due-diligence to determine which service providers offer the most appropriate solutions.

“Unfortunately, we see agents get convinced by some service providers that present themselves as end-all, be-all hosted solutions,” says Tario. “These providers tell agents that if they come across any hybrid opportunities, they should throw them over the fence and let the provider close the deal. In reality, these providers will try to sell clients pre-packaged services, even though those services might not be the ideal solution for the customer.”

That’s why MicroCorp promotes a different approach.

“Partners are doing their customers a disservice by simply throwing the client to the provider for the most critical solutions engineering part of the conversation,” says Tario. “We teach agents to not simply flip opportunities over the fence to a provider. We prefer they engage our Cloud Elements team to do the front-end consulting before they bring in a provider, because this is hands down what is in the best interests of the client and the agent’s long term commission revenue stream.”

There are many ways to approach a colocation-to-cloud conversation with your clients. Hopefully, Sean’s insights can help you more effective position cloud solutions to your customers. Contact MicroCorp and Sean today to learn more.

Here's what an industry expert has to say about SD-WAN.

Helping Customers See the Benefits of SD-WAN

Struggling to sell SD-WAN? Take some advice from an industry expert.

WHere's what an industry expert has to say about SD-WAN. hile the advantages of a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) are obvious to those in the networking house, outsiders can sometimes struggle to see the strengths of this new type of technology. Fortunately, Chris Donlan, a Solutions Architect and SD-WAN Evangelist for MicroCorp, is here to break down the challenges plaguing many partners.

“The value of SD-WAN is simple,” says Donlan. “At its core, SD-WAN is an evolution of WAN technologies that allows end-users to overcome inherent network vulnerabilities to meet the new demands of business applications today and increasing migrations to cloud solutions.

Think of it this way: cable networks pose their own challenges with network performance, and telco carrier networks aren’t infallible either. Add in the inherent nature of the internet as an uncontrollable entity, and there’s a lot of opportunity for uncertainty and exposure to poor application performance. SD-WAN empowers end users to bypass these limitations with software-based solutions utilizing multiple WAN connections.

Here are a few of the more tangible benefits SD-WAN offers:

  • Connection resiliency
  • Network visibility
  • Intelligent packet routing
  • Rapid deployment
  • Improved network management

Despite these benefits, however, partners still face a variety of roadblocks when presenting SD-WAN as the most appropriate solution for customers.

“One of the current challenges of SD-WAN is that it’s new to the market as the SD-WAN ‘package.’ The technologies have been around a while, just not all packaged together,” says Donlan, “so there’s hesitancy to adopt what appears to be new technology. Another issue is that the provider landscape makes it very confusing for end users. It seems every week there is a new provider promoting their SD-WAN. And what do people do when they’re confused? They do nothing; it paralyzes them.”

But it doesn’t have to come to that deer-in-the-headlights situation for your customers, as Donlan explains. Shifting the way you think about SD-WAN, and changing the way you position it to your customers can instantly erase any confusion.

“A lot of people ask me how to sell SD-WAN,” says Donlan. “I tell them, the the important thing to understand is that SD-WAN isn’t an it. SD-WAN doesn’t have features and benefits, and it’s not something you can sell like a phone system. Instead, SD-WAN has the technological capability to allow a business to run much more efficiently. Notice, however I haven’t said it reduces costs.”

Donlan explains how some unenlightened folks may attempt to position SD-WAN as a cost-saving solution for any customer, but the technology doesn’t necessarily boost everyone’s bottom line.

“Unfortunately, it’s a common misconception that SD-WAN can save everyone money,” says Donlan. “That’s not necessarily the case. In one scenario, it might, but in another scenario, it might not. SD-WAN can, however, save you soft costs such as downtime, and it makes networks easier to manage. But partners who start the conversation with ‘It’s going to save you money,’ might not end up where they thought they would.”

So what benefits should partners suggest first when presenting SD-WAN to customers? In Donlan’s view, it largely depends upon the business.

“Connectivity assurance, network visibility and management, as well as application performance are important advantages of SD-WAN,” says Donlan, “but network visibility isn’t going to mean anything to a CEO. However, for somebody whose job it is to manage the network, being able to make decisions based on visibility and analysis is incredibly valuable.”

In today’s data-driven world, there’s endless information at our fingertips. SD-WAN gives you the tools you need to derive insights from that information. “For instance, SD-WAN can show you historical reports about network performance,” says Donlan. “And whether it’s internet or MPLS, you can review your network’s performance during the last 30 days and confront your carrier if they’re not living up to their end of the SLA. But that’s just an example. There’s all kinds of information there that’s available with SD-WAN.

SD-WAN can be confusing for many individuals who aren’t familiar with the in and outs of networking. But by positioning the technology in the right light and explaining in clear terms what your customers stand to gain, SD-WAN should be an easy sell.

Contact MicroCorp and Chris to learn more about how to sell SD-WAN.

Check out our ultimate guide on selling SD-WAN to learn more about the technology itself, how it integrates and supports other solutions, and how channel partners can take full advantage of it.

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.

Being a part of an educational ecosystem is the best way to ensure ongoing sales.

Channel Partners: Learning Leads to Selling

Being a part of an educational ecosystem is the best way to ensure ongoing sales.Every sales rep has a go-to tool to help make sales. Maybe it’s an emotional pitch. Maybe it’s a close relationship or spending time building trust. These are useful enough, but there’s one tool that’s often overlooked, but never should be. It’s ongoing learning, and every sales rep and channel partner out there should know how valuable it is to keep as current as possible on what’s being sold. If partners do not stay relevant and up-to-date on technologies and how to sell them, another technology advisor will step in to take their place.

Why Should a Channel Partner Take Ongoing Learning Seriously?

A channel partner that keeps up with learning allows several important advantages to take hold.

No costly stops-and-starts. Those who try to pack all their learning into one blast every so often incur substantial costs, and not just in course tuition. Having to stop other activities while getting caught up on the latest developments represents an opportunity cost, allowing competitors to make inroads while the partner in question is busily cracking the books.

Better chances at sales. It goes without saying that knowing one’s product is one of the best ways to make sales. The benefits of being educated are two-fold:

1)  It allows the partner to more effectively demonstrate a product’s value and illustrate the value proposition at hand. When customers object—and there’s almost always an objection somewhere—the partner is better equipped to take on that objection head-on and walk out the other side.

2) Staying educated about technologies enables partners to feel more confident in their conversations with customers, and allows them to stay a step ahead of their competition. Guiding customers through new technologies will be the clincher for recurring sales.

Developed relationships. While this relates to the last point, there’s something to be said for developing a reputation for expertise. When businesses discover their sales reps are knowledgeable about a certain point, it opens up a path for those businesses to consult sales reps about technology strategy. The astute channel partner will, naturally, be ready to upsell.

Improved Learning Quality. Some might say that it takes time to be an expert anyway; what’s the difference between spending 10,000 hours all at once or 10 hours a week for a thousand weeks? For technology, the difference is simple: technology is what’s known as “auto-catalytic.” New developments follow from old ones, so the more that’s understood about old developments, the faster the new ones can be internalized and capitalized upon. It becomes easier to learn new technologies when old ones aren’t foreign.

How Can a Channel Partner Best Keep Up With Ongoing Learning?

Keep up with all the changes in a product line by joining a product ecosystem. MicroCorp, for example, has The Solutions Alliance, a portfolio of vetted IT service professionals to help keep channel partners in the loop and to ensure they deliver your customers top-notch service. For those who want to keep up and keep ahead, just drop us a line to get started.

Bigleaf’s John Hogan talks SD-WAN, Sales, and Advice for Channel Partners

As SD-WAN makes its way around the channel — challenging forecasts for MPLS, sales, and expertise — we reached out to John Hogan, VP of Partner Sales & Business Development for Bigleaf Networks to give us his scoop on SD-WAN as it stands today. We talk sales opportunities, the types of SD-WAN, and advice for partners. Check out the interview below:

Keenan: With all the buzz out there about SD-WAN, what are some of the essential points partners have to have in their arsenal when selling SD-WAN?

Hogan: I know the SD-WAN space can seem daunting and confusing – even for partners that consider themselves to be industry veterans. My best advice for partners looking to become educated on their SD-WAN options is to categorize the different suppliers into a few major categories, and then work with their MicroCorp support team to build a relationship with at least one solid player in each category.

At Bigleaf, we’ll be the first to admit that there really is no single SD-WAN vendor that’s the right fit for every customer. So it’s important to have a few options ready to go based on the customer’s applications and network architecture.

Here are three SD-WAN supplier categories that we tend to keep track of at Bigleaf:

Carrier-based SD-WAN platforms

  • Major focus: SD-WAN as an MPLS enhancement or MPLS replacement
  • Includes a Gateway component for cloud-based traffic

Limitations:

  • Typically replaces firewalls (complex sales process, longer install)
  • Ties your SD-WAN sale to a specific carrier
  • Support experience can be challenging due to broad product set, and the fact that the carrier is re-selling another vendor’s SD-WAN platform

Premise-only solutions (no Gateway component)

  • Major focus: Built mainly for site-to-site connectivity

Limitations:

  • Typically replace firewalls (complex sales process, longer install)
  • Not as strong for cloud-based traffic due to the lack of a Gateway
  • Some require large, upfront equipment purchases

Firewall/Cloud Agnostic (this is Bigleaf’s sweet spot!)

Major focus: Easy self-installation of SD-WAN for cloud-based traffic

Onsite router deploys outside the customer’s firewall (less complicated install)

Cloud Gateway network setup for any cloud-based traffic or site-to-site VPNs

Limitations:

  • Primarily designed for internet connections (not a fit for load-balancing with MPLS or Private-Line circuits)

Keenan: Are there any commonly misunderstood points about SD-WAN partners should be aware of?

Hogan: One of the greatest misunderstood points about SD-WAN is the common belief that SD-WAN is primarily designed as an MPLS enhancement or replacement. These talking points have been driven largely by the major carriers.

Frankly, if you’re a carrier with a large base of MPLS revenue, it’s going to make sense to target SD-WAN technology (and marketing) towards the concept of leveraging SD-WAN intelligence to load-balance existing MPLS networks with broadband to build a hybrid environment for site-to-site connectivity. And that can be a great use of the technology for an enterprise customer with a large IT budget and a long-term need for more traditional, site-to-site architecture.

At Bigleaf, we’re more focused on leveraging SD-WAN technology as a more robust, cost-effective access to cloud applications. We call our technology “Cloud-First SD-WAN”.  We chuckle when we hear people say that SD-WAN is disrupting MPLS. In our view, the cloud disrupted MPLS well before SD-WAN was popular.

For many customers that are migrating applications out to the cloud, their legacy network architecture no longer makes as much sense. Their major connectivity needs have essentially migrated from a hub and spoke model to a remote-site-to-many approach. Efficient access to hosted VoIP, SaaS, AWS or Azure, etc. have become more important than access to an HQ or single data center. Any remaining site-to-site connectivity needs can be addressed with VPNs that will always remain healthy and stable thanks to SD-WAN’s prioritization and seamless failover capabilities.

Clearly, the Bigleaf SD-WAN focus plays out more in the small to mid-sized customer base, and the carrier SD-WAN focus plays out more in the enterprise space.

Keenan: What’s the best way partners can educate themselves about SD-WAN and how to sell it?

Hogan: Like anything in telecom, it really comes down to a combination of learning the key technology, but then also building a good working relationship with a few key suppliers. Good technology is never enough by itself. It’s the combination of technology and good service that makes customers happy.

For MicroCorp partners, I would highly recommend the Ultimate Partner Training Series for an opportunity to do a deep dive on SD-WAN, data center and advanced hosted solutions. Bigleaf has participated in several of these events in the past couple years, and they accomplish both the education component and the vendor relationship component. Or, just schedule a personalized training call with Bigleaf Networks, and at least one vendor from the three major SD-WAN categories noted above.

Lastly, in order to truly understand the capability of SD-WAN, you need to work through a few real-life customer implementations to experience the installation process and hear your customers’ feedback first-hand. All of our order forms have a 30-day money-back guarantee, but we’re also happy to provide a 30-day free trial when needed to allow customers to test our technology risk-free. Use these tools to help close some early wins!

Keenan: How should partners look at MPLS now that SD-WAN is encroaching on its market?

Hogan: With any major technology migration, there are some that will see new technology as a threat. And others that will see opportunity in the evolution. MPLS is not likely to disappear anytime soon. But I think many people agree it will die a slow death over a period of several years. So it’s important to build an SD-WAN strategy moving forward. That strategy can be multi-pronged:

  • Begin working on a proactive migration plan for all of your MPLS customers that will play out for several years. That plan won’t likely mean getting rid of MPLS for all customers. Some cloud-centric customers may certainly replace MPLS with an SD-WAN-enabled internet solution. While others may incorporate more of a hybrid MPLS/broadband approach. Either way, the future of your customers’ WANs are likely to incorporate an SD-WAN component in some degree or fashion in the next few years.
  • Don’t forget about the cloud! One of the greatest benefits of SD-WAN technology is more cost-effective access to cloud applications that is carrier and physically diverse. Every SD-WAN sale is a potential pivot-point into future cloud application sales for that customer. Treat your SD-WAN sales as an excuse to have a conversation with your customer about their current and future application needs — and how those needs can be met through future cloud migrations — and you have a built-in roadmap to a cloud-centric business plan for your company. Every SD-WAN sale results in a purpose-built roadway to the cloud, so help your customers use it!
  • Embrace the “every quote” opportunity with SD-WAN. The market is quickly hitting a breaking point where most businesses can no longer afford to work with a single, dumb internet pipe. With the increasing adoption of cloud-based applications, site-to-site VPNs, SaaS, O365, etc, the internet has become a lifeline to most businesses. So educate customers on SD-WAN as a part of every internet/VoIP/cloud quote that goes out the door. It will increase your ARPU and help combat the eventual decline of MPLS revenue.

Check out our ultimate guide on selling SD-WAN to learn more about the technology itself, how it integrates and supports other solutions, and how channel partners can take full advantage of it.