Adding connectivity to the portfolio is not only one of the fastest ways for a solution provider to add a new revenue stream to its business, it can be a fairly easy process, according to an XChange Solution Provider panel Monday.
The rise of the unified communications (UC) market, especially following the adoption of SIP, is causing a huge shift in the market as the old communications mainstay, PBX, continues to fall out of favor, said Rod Brown, vice president of carrier services at Ronco Communications, a Tonawanda, N.Y.-based UC solution provider.
Implementing UC can seriously cut communications costs, especially for customers with multiple sites, Brown said. He cited a customer with 16 sites who had a phone bill approaching $50,000 a month that was able to cut it to $12,000 after implementing UC. "That's return on investment, and the money saved can be spent on other services," he said.
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For solution providers who have not yet started working with carriers to provide services such as UC, there are several ways to get started, said Vince Bradley, president and CEO of World Telecom Group, a Malibu, Calif.-based carrier services master agent.
These include signing direct contracts with carriers, which require certain commitments and quotas on the part of the solution provider; working with a master agent who provides back-office support without the need for commitments or quotas; or joining a referral program, which provides less compensation but requires no up-front engagement, Bradley said.
Having those different go-to-market models makes it possible for solution providers to find the right mix of carrier partners, Brown said. "This gives us a large portfolio of carriers to work with," he said. "It's a nice shopping list of carriers for our customers to choose from."
Having a mix of carrier partners is important as customer location often determines which carriers can be used, Brown said.
"Some areas are limited in terms of carrier choice," he said. "We've walked away from deals because we don't have the right carrier. ... Sometimes you need to be creative. Maybe an account has 20 locations, but the primary carrier covers only 17 locations."
Connectivity can be a profitable solution for VARs, said Ray Mota, managing partner at ACG Research, a Gilbert, Ariz.-based marketing and consulting firm.
"For many in the channel, the No. 1 pain point is the cost of customer acquisition," Mota said. "We've found that as you offer connectivity, you increase customer retention by 27 percent."