Virgin Media Business has stressed the importance of channel partners in helping it achieve its goals and disrupt its competitors.
The firm claimed in June that it wanted to be "more disruptive than a wasp at a picnic" as it aimed to grab a larger slice of the £92bn potential digital market in the UK, with SMB firms of up to 250 employees a particular sweet spot.
Mike Smith, director of small business at Virgin Media Business, said: "We are already in excess of our 500-partner target and we are working hard to ensure they are as effective as possible."
He explained that Virgin's VOOM campaign, which encourages firms across the UK to enter a competition and win funding and wider recognition for their business, is also driving the market. The initiative is over for this year, but will return.
"A lot of businesses have realised the digital opportunity that they can unlock," he said.
Smith explained that Virgin Media Business operates two channel strategies - one known as 'IPC' where partners help to sell broadband to customers who are then billed directly by Virgin, with partners being paid a commission for each sale. Then there is the white-label business with larger partners that work directly with their customers and handle the billing themselves.
Distributors DMSL and Daisy Distribution also work with the vendor to support partners offering more of a solution sale to customers. "We are only on year one in our journey," he said. "We are working on turning IPC into a more structured tiered programme in 2017.
"We are really pleased with how things are going. We are creating a fair amount of opportunity in the marketplace and our channel partners are feeling the benefits." He said that the vendor is still recruiting partners, but is conscious of not flooding the market.
"We want to maintain a balance between partners that we sign up directly and those that work through distribution. We don't want thousands of partners just selling IP voice systems for example; we are looking for diversification.
"We are on an exciting upward curve and we are creating a great movement within the end-user marketplace. The channel is a really important way of reaching that marketplace and is the best way to achieve our collective goals."
John Carter, managing director of DMSL, said: "Since we engaged with Virgin in April we have engaged nearly 200 resellers. Fifty are now regularly placing orders on a monthly basis. The most popular speeds are in excess of 100MB. Resellers are provisioning it where increased bandwidths are required, which is being driven by cloud services and in particular hosted VoIP."
And that sentiment was echoed by Garry Grant, managing director of VAR Datatel.
"Sales people generally don't like answering inbound calls as it usually stops them from selling," he said. "We laugh about it in the office. We are leaving messages for prospective customers and they are calling us back, all because we can offer access to the Virgin Media Business network. It's practically unheard of, particularly in our sector."
Grant added: "We have doubled the size of our sales team in the last five months and we are looking likely to double again. From my point of view, we've got in at the ground and use working with Virgin to our benefit. We aren't selling off the BT network - or sharing the network and vanilla products with the other independents out there - we've got a real point of differentiation."
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