Voice over IP (VoIP) software vendor Swyx has canned its distributors and given sole distribution rights to a new start-up, IP Telecoms.
The firm was set up by engineer Mark Russell, previously technical director at distributor Telecom Solutions, to push IP telephony. He borrowed £250,000 from Steve Curtis, IP Telecoms' managing director.
"If you want to sell something new like this you have to be committed, and you have to get the channel right," said Russell. "Some distributors didn't make Swyx a priority and some sold direct. Either way, they did not do Swyx or its channel justice."
IP Telecoms started trading in January 2004. Now Swyx has canned its previous distributors, Westfalen, VLC and Telecoms. co.uk, and opted to commit its marketing efforts behind the new firm.
Russell intends to grow the channel by recruiting more IT and networking resellers.
"Swyx isn't just a good phone system. It is also a great application," Russell said.
"But the application part is what comms dealers find hard to appreciate. They want to plug a piece of kit in and walk away with a 50 per cent margin.
"That's not going to happen any more in telecoms, which is going to be sold in the same way as IT. We need people who can take this application and run with it."
He admitted there is a huge challenge in converting IT resellers, because many of them do not understand voice.
However, Russell's commitment to training IT resellers persuaded Swyx to grant his company sole distribution.
IP Telecoms is subsidising 25 per cent of the cost of training courses, and breaking them up to make them less painful for reseller partners. The distributor is also offering resellers a free not-for-sale demo kit.
"You can't fault IP Telecoms' commitment to this market," said Paul Taylor, Swyx's sales manager. "It has set up great training facilities and made a massive commitment to this market."
Russell claimed the VoIP market will be the most lucrative opportunity in the telecoms market since liberalisation. But he added that many comms dealers and resellers may miss out.
"There are too many people ready to swallow the line of manufacturers such as Cisco and Avaya. We need people who understand voice and applications, but at the moment it looks easier to train the applications people in voice rather than vice versa," he said.
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