Intermedia: Giving Away Phones And Exploding UCaaS Myths

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Intermedia is getting aggressive about pushing its Unified Communications-as-a-Service offerings through the channel, and it boldly underlined the point Monday by announcing the company would give phones away for free to partners through the end of September.

During a presentation at The Channel Company's XChange 2017 conference in Orlando, Fla., Intermedia Chief Revenue Officer Eric Martorano and Vice President of Cloud Solutions Mark Sher made the case that selling VoIP can be uncomplicated and profitable for the channel, highlighting several of the services the Mountain View, Calif.-based cloud IT applications firm offers to make it so.

But the company figured it would be even easier for partners if they got phones for free. "At some point, you're going to be in front of a customer asking for a sale. We want to make sure that's easy for you too. We're going to throw the phones in for free," Sher said. "We want to make it easier for you to get the 'yes' from the customer."

[Related: Dell EMC, Lenovo Execs Tout Channel Profits, Innovation In Duel For Partners' Attention]

The offer extends through the end of September and includes Intermedia Yealink T46G and Polycom VVX440 phones.

The giveaway comes as Intermedia deepens its commitment to the channel. When Martorano was hired about a year ago, the company did approximately 70 percent of its business through partners. Now, that total is already over 80 percent. Intermedia's voice business is a big part of that push, and makes up about 30 percent of the company's revenue, Martorano said.

Still, the company faces challenges to growing its voice business through the channel, particularly in the persistence of myths that Intermedia is working to overcome, Sher said.

Those myths include:

• The cloud voice business is complex and difficult to break into.

• Selling voice is difficult and support is limited.

• Installation is complex.

• Support eats up all your profits.

• Cloud voice quality and reliability are lacking.

• Partners can't add value to someone else's service.

• Partners can't own the customer relationship.

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