What You’re Selling — Seeing the Bigger Picture
If you’re in the business of selling communications technology, you’ve likely been selling voice for many years, and more recently, you’ve probably started offering cloud services. Whether your customers want to continue with premises-based telephony or migrate to the cloud for VoIP, these forms of voice services have become commodities with little to room to grow margins or add-on revenues. You can choose to stay in that comfort zone, but you also know that cloud services are where the growth is.
Helping move your customers off-prem to cloud is a great first step, but there’s a much bigger opportunity in front of you than VoIP, and to see it you must think beyond telephony, as well as beyond voice. The cloud is about all forms of communications, including meetings, video, collaboration, security and even contact center. We’re now in the age of digital communications, where all these various channels run over the same data network, and increasingly, they’re been delivered from a common cloud platform.
Whereas telephony is a mature market with very little innovation on the horizon, cloud communications is booming. Not only is there a lot of runway ahead to migrate premises-based customers to the cloud, but this space is constantly innovating, with both new features to make existing applications stickier, and new services to create new revenue streams and grow your MRR.
In terms of what you sell, the takeaway is that you can continue selling what you’ve always been selling, or you can tap into this much bigger world that is quickly opening up for anyone who is ready for it. Most channel partners want to sell more cloud services, and end customers want to buy more cloud services.
If you don’t jump in to provide them, somebody else will, and chances are good they won’t have much expertise selling telephony. That expertise actually won’t be necessary, and you could end up losing more than telephony revenues. So, the choice is yours, and here are two factors to help you protect your customer base and get you on the path to cloud services.
How You’re Selling — Showing a Bigger Picture
Getting you to see the bigger picture is the starting point, and from there, you need to show that same picture to your customers. They’ll never buy it until they can see it, and they won’t buy it from you unless you can show them why they should.
This brings us to how you’re selling, and as you know, there are several business models to choose from. If you’re an agent, you know the limits of that model, including the risks. Agents can continue selling all forms of voice services indefinitely, but margins will only get smaller, and as businesses adopt cloud services, fewer of them will keep buying voice as a standalone service. With VoIP, agents can keep selling voice to their core base, but for those customers to buy a broader range of cloud services from you, you’ll need to up your agent game.
You could do that as an agent, but you’ll need to up-level your technical expertise, not just so customers will have confidence buying from you, but also to find cloud services partners who will work with you. Again, the choice is yours, and if you want to grow your business for today and build residual value for an exit tomorrow, you’ll need to move to the reseller model, where you own the customer relationship and provide the initial support and billing for the services you offer. If you see the bigger picture outlined above, then it should be clear why this move is the best investment you can make in your future.
This is really about positioning yourself further along the value-chain spectrum, not just for selling commoditized services, but in building deeper relationships with your customers. They can buy telephony from anybody, but cloud services touches on their entire operations, and for that, you need to be a trusted partner.
As an agent, they may trust you for telephony, but not for collaboration, not for meetings, and not for contact center. As a trusted partner, however, you can sell them all of this with cloud services, but you can’t get there from here. At minimum, you’ll need to become a reseller, and if that’s the picture you want your customers to see, your game plan should now be pretty clear.
Who You’re Selling — Delivering the Bigger Picture
In order to go from being pretty clear to crystal clear, having the right business model is only half of the equation for selling cloud services. The other half is about who you’re going to be selling to take advantage of this bigger opportunity. On one level, this is about selling technology; just like there are many VoIP providers you can sell telephony with, there are many cloud providers for this broader range of cloud services.
While there is a growing list of cloud providers who offer all the communications technology your customers could possibly need, there are other levels that will be …