Enterprise unified communications and collaboration (UCC) has become extremely important to businesses over the last decade. Now, due to a variety of factors, UCC has become even more valued as a service in the cloud, also known as unified communications as a service (UCaaS).
So what makes up UCaaS? Primarily, it consists of voice and telephony capabilities, conferencing, messaging (email and voicemail), presence services and instant messaging, desktop and browser clients, and integration with applications like contact center, mobility, and other collaboration tools. For value-added resellers (VARs) that want to develop another channel besides selling just premises-based equipment, UCaaS is a good market to grow into. In order to effectively sell these services, VARs need to be aware of the drivers for UCaaS, which include a variety of factors from cost to integration issues. Here are nine things VARs should be aware of when selling UCC in the cloud to their customers:
- UCaaS can reduce CAPEX for customers, but can improve VARs’ monthly revenue stream. This is because customers are looking for ways to reduce their capital outlay, and UCC in the cloud is a perfect way to do this. For VARs, instead of earning a profit on selling premises-based hardware one time, they receive ongoing monthly income on a per-user and often per-feature basis.
- Customer-required administration and maintenance can be significantly reduced by moving to UCC in the cloud. Instead, VARs and service providers can offer programming, moves/adds/changes, backup and restore, and software updates from the cloud to the customer. Not only can this be another source of revenue for VARs and for customers, valuable time can be also reutilized by IT personnel for other, important projects.
- With UCC in the cloud, customers are more likely to get the latest, greatest features and capabilities as opposed to premises-based equipment. It is easier and more cost-effective for VARs to update capabilities for their cloud customers than it is to send someone to the customer and make software and programming changes in order to add features.
- Businesses that operate seasonally can gain benefits from cloud-based UCC in that they can quickly add or remove users as needed and do not need to be locked into hardware-based scalability. VARs can provide top service to clients that need the ability to move quickly.
- VARs that offer both premises-based equipment and cloud-based services will be more successful, because they can meet whatever the customer’s needs with the best solution for that customer. Some clients will only want certain services to be provided to them via the cloud, while others may want all or no UCaaS.
- Hybrid offers are important to customers that want to protect their existing hardware investments. VARs that can deliver on this model will find success. Examples include a customer keeping its premises-based telephone equipment and then using UCaaS for mobility solutions. Attacking the market vertically can be a great way for VARs to sell UCaaS. By starting with one particular industry and understanding common problems and typical decision-maker strategies, VARs can develop a level of expertise and then move on to other similar industries.
- VARs need to understand that they are really selling a solution to their customers and then delivering it as a service via the cloud. VARs that take the time to understand customer needs can deliver the most appropriate solution to the customer without even mentioning the word “cloud.”
- VARs should offer a full set of services to their customers, including professional services, managed services, implementation and integration services, and application development services.
- Existing VARs can get into the UCaaS business quickly by working with an existing cloud-based UCC vendor using the technique of “white labeling.” This means that a vendor can become comfortable selling UCaaS under its own name without having to incur a capital outlay in order to immediately build its own cloud-based network.
Customers are beginning to demand elements of UCC in the cloud for their businesses, making the market ripe for VARs looking to get into UCaaS sales and service. VARs that understand customer needs will be successful at solving business issues by delivering services through the cloud. VARs that are comfortable with UCaaS have many options available to increase revenue flow, especially if they sell both premises-based hardware and cloud-based services.
Does your company sell both premises-based equipment and cloud-based UCC? Where do you think the market is heading, and why? Please comment below.