Resellers can be “Only Me” not “Me Too”

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Comms Business Magazine meets up with Steve Tutt at VanillaIP to see how a Broadsoft based supplier of hosted telephony and other services is differentiating their offering from other suppliers.

You only have to go back a short time to find that suppliers of hosted telephony services always used to be competing with traditional PBX providers and spending a lot of their sales time in front of customers explaining the hosted model rather than selling the solution.

Today that has largely changed and more often than not resellers are finding they are pitching one hosted solution against one or more similar hosted solutions as well as a PBX or indeed Microsoft Lync.

Comms Business Magazine (CBM): Is Microsoft Lync a threat or an opportunity for Vanilla IP resellers?  

Steve Tutt (ST): We consider Lync to represent an opportunity for our resellers. The motivations for getting Lync in the first place are IM, presence and other collaboration tools but you don’t have to buy Lync to get these applications as we, and others, can supply these tools including desktop sharing.

Our UC1 application for example provides presence, IM and desktop sharing as well as a softphone, call control, call recording, hold and transfer and video calls. It’s Broadsoft’s answer to Lync and just like the rest of the services is available on a monthly per user OPEX basis.

CBM: Call management is a key application used not just to control costs but gain an insight in to how a company is operating. What can you provide resellers to offer to their customers?

ST: Here we can provide all the features of a traditional CPE or on site call management solution and quite a few more they cannot supply. As you say, it’s no longer about just producing a user call bill based on their network tariffs – it’s much more. Third party call loggers are located ‘at the edge’ whereas our application, UBOSS, is placed at the core.

What this means for example is that serviced offices using our services can set their own tariff rates for individual clients or tenants. Another benefit for resellers selling any of our value added services is that UBOSS handles not just the calls element but also all of the services being consumed as well.

Finally, in an age of phreaking and hacking UBOSS has a unique ‘credit lock’ feature that prevents bill shock by limiting call spend to a pre-set limit agreed by the user or reseller beyond which calls cannot be made. So you see we have all the features associated with call management plus a few more besides.

CBM: How would you characterise the market at present?

ST: The last few years have been very difficult for traditional PBX vendors and today they are doing what they can to limit their loss of market share. However, eventually we will see the demise of the PBX as users shift to alternative platforms based on their need to become more agile, increase their business flexibility and responsiveness with business grade applications that are available on an OPEX deployment model.

Apart from these obvious business drivers it is worth noting that many of today’s applications that are in widespread use throughout business had their origins or gained their popularity in the home market – Video Calls, Dropbox and Instant Messaging for example. Peer to peer applications used at home widen the horizons of business users.

Selling hosted telephony to business users is a start point – a stepping stone to providing more and more applications to clients. Once you have the mind share with your customers it is a straightforward process to gain more wallet share through customer applications.

Today there is minimum touch for resellers to move in to the hosted applications market but there remains the need to have a commitment from resellers. They must want to get in to this market and now is the time for them to get to know the model, the pricing strategies and how to successfully build their own product and applications bundles to attract customers. Reseller need to learn how to ‘get smart’ about tariffing, as well as know how and where to add value and make money.

Now is the time to be  “Only me” not “Me too”