In this interview Neville Bird, CEO of ReTell, spoke to Comms Business about how the Channel needs to be more proactive in its sales approach as partners start looking for new ways to build their pipeline.
CBM: Are customers making big purchasing decisions right now?
NB: Well, we have a number of customers running large infrastructure projects and whilst we haven’t seen any of these drop off since the country went into lock-down, we’ve had no new business enquiries involving long-term capital expenditure either. On the other hand, we’ve seen a significant uptick in the provision of license-based services – so it’s been something of a mixed bag for us.
CBM: Are you seeing businesses making big U-turns in terms of their technology estate to ensure they are future proof?
NB: We’ve been seeing a steady rise in more future-focused digital transformation projects for a few years now – most of them requiring a large-scale infrastructure upgrades. For us, it’s been more of an acceleration than a U-turn. We’re having more and more conversations with customers about how our new cloud-based solutions can provide the flexibility they need to ensure compliant call recording whilst their workforce becomes more disparate – whether that’s through people being forced to work from home or increased mobility more generally.
CBM: Where do you believe the opportunities for Channel over the next 12 months?
NB: I think the real opportunity for resellers, MSPs and VARs is to be more pro-active and consultative in their sales approach. The smart ones will find a way to meet the ever-changing business needs of their customers whilst securing new long-term revenue streams. Today’s business communications buyers are more sophisticated and better informed than ever before, so simply pulling off-the-shelf technology bundles together for them is unlikely to add any value. Whilst this may require reviewing and updating their product portfolios, the channel now has the chance to be more creative in the way they develop business solutions – speed-to-value and ease-of-deployment will be the new
CBM: How has this situation impacted your offering and development cycle?
NB: I think things are going to return to normal pretty quickly once we emerge from lock-down, but some businesses – especially in the Professional Services sector – are likely to want to maintain the high levels of flexibility that the social distancing restrictions imposed on them and retain a higher degree of remote and home working for their employees. Fortunately for us, our current product offering and technology roadmap is perfectly suited to this new business environment – so the key focus for us is getting new products to market as quickly as possible.
CBM: How quickly do you feel the UK can recover from COVID?
NB: The trillion-dollar question! Until a vaccine is found – if indeed one is – then opening up the entire economy is going to be a very slow and gradual process. With the financial schemes put in place by the government, there is certainly liquidity in the markets but there will also be some inevitable losses in some sectors while other businesses thrive and grow. On a human level, I don’t think the workplace and employment opportunities will ever truly be the same. Employers can help by creating flexible and supportive working environments for their employees which should lead to more engagement, commitment and success. But it’s really up to all of us now to play our part in the recovery by doing everything we can to create leaner, more effective businesses and by providing high-quality products, services and solutions that meet the needs of businesses today. Most importantly, we need to stay optimistic and remain positive.
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