Mastering the Channel

Comms Business talks to Richard Roberts, appointed earlier this year as Mitel’s Vice President for UK &Eire and South Africa Channels, about the market and why he believes the UK channel can learn from the US market and stay on the front foot.

Comms Business Magazine (CBM): How would you characterise the end user market these days?
Richard Roberts (RR): Today’s businesses are looking for flexible contracts, immediate response times, and a stream of new enhancements on an ongoing basis. Many of our innovative go to market strategies start with the users – providing them what they are looking for.
There’s been a shift in the user experience; they are downloading and consuming applications at home and this is transitioning in to the business sector. I would say that the US is a little ahead of the UK on this trend right now.

CBM: Mitel has seen a huge rise in cloud UC sales coming from master agents in the US, and these master agents are increasingly setting up shop in the UK – can you explain what a Master Agent does exactly?
RR: The Master Agent model has flourished in the US especially in the Unified Communications sector. We all want ease of access and quick delivery of innovations as much as we need to be fleet of foot and be able to spin on a sixpence. Cloud gives us all that flexibility.

Simply put, a Master Agent can be an organisation of any size that recruits sales agents who they educate and inspire to sell. It’s a commission based model with both parties earing monthly recurring revenue for the lifetime of the contract. As well as an exceptional service capability, the Master Agent will have and will pass on to sales agents a deep understanding of the UC market and the sales opportunities.

Many of the large Master Agents in the US have entities established here in the UK and are already working this model. Other businesses here are already servicing the market but perhaps not UC. Firms and individual can see that by working with a market leading vendor this a new income stream and is complimentary to existing reseller models.
Incremental opportunity. Seeing a real blend, Market leading solution can be brought to users. Want to enhance their own business. Giving customers choice – all are viable options for user.
The great thing about the UK channel is that it moves fast to embrace customer sentiment and this is forcing our partners to respond. Others are seeing with this Master Agent model that the barriers to entry dropping.

CBM: Why, in the coming years, does Mitel predict significant cloud uptake in the UK, and how can resellers here become masters of these new sales approaches themselves.
RR: It’s difficult to predict rate of growth but the pace of value perception by users is great. It’s all about perceived value and the model will be a significant contribution to UK market.

The diversity and opportunity in the UK is more balanced – mainly because there’s a more diverse customer base. The UK channel is a more sophisticated channel than found in many global markets where customer can pick the pace at which they move.

In terms of contact ownership this is retained by Mitel in the Master Agent model via our MiCloud Connect whereas if resellers want a deeper involvement with users such as that achieved through undertaking aspects like integration, they retain the ownership via our MiCloud Flex.

CBM: Is this Master Agent model part of your first 100 days’ strategy where you said you wanted to accelerate the journey to cloud, bring partners closer together and focus on the people here at Mitel?
RR: Yes. This is a huge step forward in acceleration and a clear choice between MiCloud options backed by Mitel assurance, quality and credibility. The way resellers project themselves is part of that brand value.

Partners have seen us refine our partner program providing accessible technology via portals and increased contact with the account team.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine