At CVx (Channel Vision Expo) in LA on Oct. 4-6, I will be presenting a session on Net-Head versus Bell-Head.
I have been writing about this all year in Internet Telephony magazine. (Examples are May 2010 issue and the June issue). I have also blogged about the topic On-RAD's-Radar.
Basically, telcom is changing from TDM to IP. At the same time, our economy is so fragmented that freelancing is growing at a rapid rate. So is the virtual office model (also, the tele-worker ranks are growing). What does that mean? It means that you won't be selling too many plug-n-play services. Huh?
Well, the business that used to have an Integrated T1 now has a few tele-workers as well as a couple of mobile workers, so a standard quote for a replacement Integrated T1 just won't solve the telecommunication needs of this business any more.
Agents are moving to selling Hosted Apps via GreenAppX and selling Managed It services -- partially because telecom only commissions just won't cut it any more and partly because, as Spider Dale pointed out, managed IT is starting to become a commodity where any unemployed, semi-computer literate dude can resell Zenith services for $19 per PC to make a little money each month.
The thing is, even in a price war, it is still difficult to sell managed services, because most businesses look at technology as overhead and don't know the TCO (total cost of ownership) of a computer or printer or LAN or Email or Internet Access. That's why they buy break/fix services - and shop for price. It will be a tough sell for Agents, especially selling Apps against Google. They just aren't prepared for that kind of conversation. Are you?
We see traditional telecom agents selling 5 to 500+ seat deals today for hosted apps. MS Exchange is still the #1 purchased business hosted app in the market over Google Apps or any competition.
Agents presently operate in an industry sales and marketing environment that is only 14 years old (sans 96 Telecom Act). There is plenty of room for change, adaptation and maturation in such an early stage industry. Many large IT VAR's started out as Radio Shack TRS80 or TI99 enthusiast that opened a retail corner store in the late 70's or early 80's selling those "computers" as solutions with rudimentary home-baked programs like POS. Those same people are now implementing complex solutions like VMWare, Oracle, SQL, etc. for global corporations. The creativity and ability to adopt and succeed with new technologies by the business entrepreneur has no bounds in any industry.
Putting their best foot forward is always a sensible step to take. If hosted apps are being purchased by the same decision maker and unutilized by the same users over the same connectivity the agent is involved with at the customer end, then the barriers to selling them are very low given that a solid relationship exist and proper support can be provided. End-user support is typically provided by the hosted application provider to the end-customer in the same manner that telecom trouble tickets and support are handled by the carrier or reseller for the agent presently.
Oh, and btw, all functionality, even voice, is an "application" in the IP world. Agents may want to ponder that thought a bit, but when they do some lightbulbs should go off about applications relationship to telecom services.
Emmet Tydings, President, AB&T Telecom, firstname.lastname@example.org
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