With two major UK carriers significantly reducing their channel presence in the past two months, many resellers could be forgiven for questioning the commitment of carriers to the channel.
The reality of converged communication represents a fantastic opportunity for resellers in 2006 and beyond. However, for many the prospect of learning to sell this technology brings new challenges.
As a recent study from Juniper Research has shown, the adoption of voice over IP (VoIP) in the enterprise is expected to grow this year, and the value of the business VoIP equipment market is expected to reach $5.5bn by 2007.
However, rather than leaving them unaided, all carriers should be actively supporting their channel partners. They should be providing the necessary sales and technical support to ensure VARs can benefit from these business opportunities. Without this support from carriers, it is arguable that not only will the market for convergence suffer, but a reseller’s ability to evolve and diversify its revenue streams into emerging channels will be affected negatively. And this would be to the detriment of the whole industry.
Ultimately, this is an industry-wide issue where committed carriers have to
take the lead to continue to build trust and maintain stability in the reseller
As the convergence market continues to grow, ‘service type’ models for channel partners may present a valuable opportunity. They provide resellers with the autonomy to establish new business opportunities, manage relationships with the end-user, and handle the basic selling, billing and technical support.
A ‘service type’ approach from carriers also provides the reseller with peace of mind that they have direct access to the carrier’s experts. These can provide further sales and technical support to ensure that every new business opportunity is maximised.
Training is also a key component of this model, where carriers need to ensure
that resellers are regularly updated on new developments in their product
portfolios through workshops, seminars and bespoke one-to-one sessions as
needed. This training, in combination with dedicated support, will enable the
channel to approach with confidence existing and potential new customers that
are considering a converged communication solution. This will be to the benefit
of the whole industry.
So although recent months have seen some negative news in terms of commitment to the channel, with dedicated carrier support and training there is a fantastic opportunity for resellers to benefit from convergence.
Ben Le Feuvre is indirect channels sales manager at Telstra Europe.
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