John Bird, Head of Systems and Support Services at distributor Micro-P Unified Communications, reports that NEC PBX sales are growing so we asked him what he puts this down to.
NEC PBX sales within Micro-P are in a sustained period of growth, even within the current economic climate. We’ve been an NEC distribution partner for their voice portfolio for 4 years now and we’ve seen trading accounts grow by around 30% year on year. We’ve set ourselves some challenging targets for FY14, with the view of increasing NEC revenues by double digits year on year and I’m pleased to report that for the first 5 months of the financial year were are on track to achieve our target.
This sustained year on year growth has been recognised by NEC at the highest level and we have been awarded NEC’s fastest growing distributor in EMEA for two consecutive years – an endorsement we are very proud of and are working hard to achieve this again at the end of this year. We also operate NEC SV8100 and SV8500 systems across our Basingstoke, Stoke and Altham offices – perfect case study material for our resellers and the perfect sites to bring an end user to see NEC solutions working in a real world environment.
There are several key factors that I attribute to directly growing our NEC business:
We have a highly experienced Business Manager in Andy Clark – technically proficient and channel experienced with many years’ experience with NEC, dating back to the launch of their highly successful Xn120 system. We add to this the very best pre and post-sales support teams in the channel – technical experts in their field and endorsed by numerous reseller testimonials. My background is technical and we have the best support team I have ever worked with in the last 20 years – a bold statement but one that resellers acknowledge as soon as they use our helpdesk services.
Micro-P has the ability to specify and deliver multivendor solutions, centric to NEC’s voice portfolio, supported by financial services and on site engineering support to ensure the solution is installed within specification. We also have a hands on approach to driving NEC solutions into our resellers – including assisted product demonstrations, quotation support, quarterly sales training courses, webinars, technical training courses – both classroom based and online CBT training.
We are channel only and will never sell direct – there is no channel conflict, unlike some of our competitors. We also deliver innovative marketing campaigns centric to increasing reseller product knowledge and skill sets and reseller acquisition. This year our theme has been ‘Top Trumps’ – comparing Micro-P NEC expertise to that of the competition, thus allowing our customers to make an informed choice.
The NEC SL1100 solution is one of the very best products in the sub 10-extension market place – which we all know is the core channel for any SMB reseller. After all, analysts report that the average system size deployed in the UK is around 11 extensions. This has had direct impact on NEC’s newly appointed status as the No1 global supplier of PBX solutions in the less than 100 extension market.
What impact has the new NEC computer based training (CBT) had on reseller recruitment and skill sets? Does this CBT training give you and your resellers and advantage – and how?
CBT training has been a revolution in helping to not only on board new resellers but also expand existing resellers skill sets. I’ll be honest, historically I’ve never been an advocate of CBT training as I believe nothing replicates the classroom environment but I have to give credit to NEC for delivering one of the best, most comprehensive and easy to use CBT training environments I’ve ever seen. Having sat through the training myself online, the content can be learnt at the reseller engineer’s own pace, without the need to complete all the modules at the same time and resellers are able to ask questions to our own support teams as they progress through the course.
At a cost of only £99 for each engineer to sit the end of course accreditation module, NEC have greatly reduced the costs for an engineer to earn their technical certifications. Consider the cost of sending an engineer away for two days classroom training, with overnight accommodation on top of the issue the engineer is out of the business for this time, compared to the delivering the same training at the engineers own pace for just £99. It’s a no-brainer!
Reseller feedback has been excellent with 12 Micro-P reseller orders placed within 72 hours of the CBT training being available.
There are obvious advantages for all parties with CBT training. A trained reseller is paramount to being able to install and support an NEC PBX solution, within timescales, and meeting end user expectations. Furthermore, existing resellers are able to accredit their entire workforce for a minimum cost, without impacting engineer onsite schedules. This results in reseller installation lead-times being reduced with a direct result of improved cash flow for the reseller as end user solutions are delivered faster.
Other PBX vendors tend to only schedule training courses quarterly – NEC resellers have a significant advantage and can sit a training course as soon as they commit to the brand and are therefore able to deliver their first solution in a much reduced timescale.