Micro-P has launched a wide range of access services and at the same time announced a hosted telephony service for their channel partners that will see the distributor leverage their in-house developed portal and existing skills base. It’s the culmination of much research in to the market according to Rob Hendry, Head of Business Development and John Bird, Head of Systems and Support Services.
With around 50 service providers already in the market why has Micro-P decided that now is a good time to join the ray?
Micro-P: There are a number of determining factors. Last year we took time to analyse the market for connectivity and hosted telephony. Micro-P already had a healthy and growing mobile air time base alongside a rapidly growing comms hardware business. We are all aware that overall the UK PBX market has become challenged in recent years with CAPEX restrictions being imposed during a difficult economic climate. The OPEX hosted telephony model could work both as a replacement CPE deployment model as well as alongside traditional PBX systems in say a branch networking application as a hybrid, flexible and cost effective solution. By extending our connectivity and access solutions from mobile air time to fixed line access with solutions from DSL to MPLS Micro-P would be well positioned to address a wider range of channel partner opportunities.
What channels has Micro-P identified?
Micro-P: We see three key verticals to address; fixed line, mobile and IT reseller sectors. Micro-P has an on-going reseller and market profiling process and there are opportunities for resellers in all three verticals to enter these connectivity and hosted applications markets. Recurring revenue generation is very important to Micro-P and we identified that although there are indeed many service providers in the channel most had complex solutions and high barriers to entry for the reseller. What we are providing to our channel partners is a low risk, high quality set of connectivity and hosted telephony solutions they can adopt in to their portfolios in the confidence that all the back-up support services they have come to expect from Micro-P will be in place.
How are you making these solutions easy for your partners?
Micro-P: The new Micro-P Conect services are white labelled for resellers and to make selling and deployment easy we wanted a single point of entry – The Conect Portal – for all connectivity and provisioning of access and applications. This is a tried, tested, robust and easy to use portal – we already have more than 300 mobile resellers using it for air time provision. A single point login leads partners to land on pages for mobile, VoIP hosted telephony and fixed line connectivity. This includes SIP trunks, fibre access, lines and calls with WLR3 provision, with a comprehensive billing engine. The key USP here is the simplification of the sales process end to end, covering connection recommendations, license tariffs and hardware requirements with considerations of the end user experience paramount. Complimented with a fully qualified workforce supporting the pre and post-sale assessment and delivery and all under one under one roof!
For the reseller this simplifies licenses and services provision taking them through basic on premise connections, application licenses and hardware recommendations. Significantly Micro-P has built in a reseller GP calculator based on the reseller setting their own end-user pricing levels.
At a stroke we have the removed the ‘black art’ element from connectivity for a huge swathe of resellers that have hitherto shied away from these applications.
How are you supporting your resellers for Micro-P Conect?
Micro-P: From cradle to grave. The Conect Portal is in-house developed and we understand what resellers need more than anyone. Features and functions of hosted telephony are there to be selected as options and we will be providing pre-configured kit to channel partners for their customers. Behind this we have a team of talented pre-sales experts ready and more than able to walk resellers through the whole sales process to ensure opportunities are maximised.
It was clear from our research in to this market that there would be two distinct types of reseller. Those that were self-sufficient and would take an un-managed wholesale service from ourselves and those that wanted, initially at least, a managed offering where Micro-P would handle the whole process for them from survey to implementation.
For Micro-P this is akin to putting all the pieces of a jig-saw together. For example, we have been undertaking services for our resellers such as LAN surveys for some time and already distribute IP phones, routers and switches so nothing is new for us.
Why should resellers work with a distributor for these services and applications?
Micro-P: Firstly we are a reseller only channel partner which means our partners have no fears concerning the direct models that other service providers run alongside their channel offering. Other suppliers can also fall short when it comes to hardware options that are available whereas we have a wider range of say endpoints – phone and headsets, for partners to choose from.
We are also vendor and deployment model agnostic. We can look at the best solution for the end user and that may mean a traditional PBX or a PBX working with a hosted solution or a pure hosted application. The customer has to come first and the reseller must have the best options available from their supplier.
You have clearly done research on the market but what feedback are you getting from partners you have shared your plans with?
Micro-P: The first observation I would make is that two-thirds of all requests for information on these applications is coming in from IT VARs. We are of course identifying a mix of resellers across three verticals of mobile, IT and voice channels and they all tell us they like the fact that we are putting no onerous hurdles or barriers to entry in their path. Likewise they appreciate Micro-P can provide them with access to hardware, connectivity, professional field based services and an internal support structure. Determining their own margin levels is clearly a popular feature as margin is king for resellers and one of a number of key UPS’s we have identified.
IT resellers are excited too about entering new markets with minimal accreditation costs and these applications are seen by them as a ‘customer lock-in’ that can be bolted on to their existing service contracts and broadening their current portfolio..
The partnerships that will prove to be the most successful and profitable for the future will come from resellers that grasp the opportunity before them and invest in us and what we can do for them. Resellers that recognise the need to get dedicated heads on board to exploit the opportunity will see their sales grow rapidly and incremental revenue generation soar on a monthly basis.