Intelisys, a ScanSource company, considers cloud-based unified communications to be one of the top three hottest technologies.
"UCaaS is off the charts. As partners source new solutions for their customers, it probably comes up in 50 percent of those conversations," said Intelisys President Jay Bradley. "The appetite for cloud communications among customers is strong, and sales numbers in this area for partners are robust."
The secret to UCaaS selling is working with providers who are dedicated to the channel, the presidents of both companies told CRN ahead of one of Intelisys' cloud selling and training programs, Super9 Convergence, which is being held in New Orleans this week.
Super9 Convergence is the first three-day education conference for Super9 graduates and their teams. The event will include both Intelisys and ScanSource partners, as well as supplier partners, all of whom will gather for education sessions, cloud technology deep dives, peer meetings and networking. Super9 Convergence will have several courses geared towards selling cloud-based business communications, including a Contact Center as a Service session, and a session on how to create a tailored UCaaS offering for end customers.
Between ScanSource's and Intelisys' supplier portfolios, the distribution duo has strong relationships with the cloud-based communications provider community.
Supplier partners such as 8x8, Arkadin, and Jive, are gaining traction in the increasingly crowded market, even as legacy premises-based communications providers are entering the UCaaS space, as well as newcomers such as AWS and Google. That's because of their focus on the channel as a path to market, Bradley said.
"It really comes down to the companies that staff up with channel resources, are competitive with commissions, and make that commitment to the channel and talk about their partner strategy at the leadership level," Bradley said. "It always comes back to those basic building blocks, and that is what our partners are looking at."
Vendors that are having success selling UCaaS through the channel today are also touting flexible deployment models so partners can create the right solution to match their customer's business needs, said Buck Baker, co-president of U.S. and Canada for ScanSource.
"The popularity of UCaaS is very high right now, but end users want something more – like a hybrid offering," he said. "Our partners need to be educated well on the advantages of all the aspects of the UCaaS offering."
ScanSource announced this month that it had expanded its partnership with Mitel, anther channel-focused provider, making ScanSource the primary U.S. distributor for all premise-based Mitel products. Thanks to Mitel's May acquisition of UCaaS provider ShoreTel, the partnership also means more selling opportunities for the vendor's cloud-based UC solutions, Baker said.
ScanSource will continue to provide sales support, as well as technical and professional support, and will manage onboarding, training, and certifications for Mitel agent partners.
Intelisys has been growing cloud sales within its partner base for the past three years. In October, the master agent revealed ambitious plans to expand its successful cloud training program to include three new Super9 program options in 2018. Super9 Convergence is one of the new additions to the lineup. The two other new Super9 spinoffs -- Super9 Intensive -- included a Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)-focused event which took place in February in Fort Lauderdale, and a security-focused session will be held in Greenville, S.C., in November.