In the latest episode of Comms Business Live David Dungay was joined by three prominent hosted suppliers to talk about the challenges for partners differentiating their offerings in the market.
In a recent Comms Business Survey 76% of respondents indicated that the biggest challenge they face in selling hosted telephony is the race to the bottom on price.
Comms Business Magazine (CBM): How can partners break away from selling on price?
Paul Gibbs, Head of UCaaS and mid-market at Gamma (PG): The answer is not just having hosted but many other applications and then blending those together to differentiate yourself. Asking the end user what they want and what they already have is important. A lot of the people that sell purely on price ask the same questions, how many extensions have you got? What connectivity do you want? Here’s my price! They don’t really engage with the customer.
A lot of the end user market have been around the hosted carousel once already. They bought on price the first time, had a nightmare for three years and are now looking to engage on what partners can deliver, how can they deliver, what is the service like, what is the quality like? Then you drive loyalty from the customer for more than the three years, perhaps six, eight, nine years plus.
We tend to patronise the end user a little bit sometimes. They are well educated in what they want but it is on us to let them know what else is out there, what we can provide and the benefits that will give them.
I think it’s about what the reseller does and how they skill up and what they are getting from their providers. It’s about how you shape your proposition to the end user as a reseller. A lot of the time the day to day takes dominance and I hear things like ‘we have to sell x-number of seats this month otherwise we won’t make our target.’ But they (the reseller) have a huge established base and that is really the low hanging fruit. We are working at Gamma to see how partners can engage with their existing base and what applications or marketing materials we provide the partners.
Ian Rowan, Channel Manager at Wildix UK (IR): It’s hard when it’s a product online because where do you add value? The reseller has to become the value in that proposition and not just be another product. We partner with a company with a company called Value Selling who do value proposition sales training, we provide that to our partners so they can learn to provide value in those solutions and not just sell another product.
Connectivity is key, owning your own network doesn’t eliminate the fact you can still have outages. Having decent connectivity is also a lot more affordable than it used to be.
Broadsoft has done wonders to the market because they have opened everyone’s eyes to hosted telephony. However, it is hard when you are fighting against three or four other resellers to (selling the same thing) differentiate yourself, which is one of the benefits to being a smaller company as opposed to Gamma.
Justine Blaine, Channel Manager at NTA (JB): I think resellers aren’t just in the telecoms space now, they are also in IT sector. They have got to put their own service wrap, or even a managed service wrap, around their products and services. I don’t think you can just go in with telephony only. It’s all about that service wrap and adding value. If you just sell one product then they (the customers) are going to compare it on price.
I think some partners have managed to sell applications and not just telephony. They aren’t just asking ‘how many extensions and lines do you require?’ They are looking at the business benefits on hosted telephony and what it can deliver to a particular end customer. Others aren’t, they are at the end of the market that are just selling on price. To be fair to some of those resellers, some of those smaller customers are only going to buy on price, they aren’t going to buy on functionality.