Written by Will Morey
OK, I’ll be honest – the first thing to say is that I think you should choose Pragma. It’s not worth patronising you by pretending this is some independent guide written from a purely altruistic motivation to help you select a new vendor partner.
Disclosure: I’m the Sales and Marketing Director of Pragma and clearly think we do a good job at what we do. A great one, in fact. I hate it when you read these articles and they sound half-credible in the first couple of paragraphs and then just start blatantly plugging their own product.
That said, I have tried to be even and measured in my analysis of what makes a good UCaaS partner. I’ve spoken to lots of reseller principals when writing this and true to Pragma’s spirit of honesty and transparency, I genuinely hope there is some good stuff in here that helps you make an informed decision.
UCaaS is growing at a phenomenal rate and provides significant opportunities for resellers to secure recurring revenue and add huge value to their customers. We all know how COVID has driven the move to cloud and flexible infrastructure and home-based working, which has further accelerated matters.
So what are the top things to look for in a UCaaS service provider?
- Roadmap, R&D, innovation
- Stability, resilience and reliability
- Channel-only focus
- Heritage, experience and proven platform
- WebRTC, Collaboration, CRM and vertical market integrations
- Add-ons, value adds and ARPU Drivers
- Partnership, tools and investment in your business
There are probably a lot more, but these came out through many conversations and they’re what we’re told our customers really value.
Let’s explore each of these topics:
- Roadmap and innovation are key
When your customers become subscribers, they aren’t just buying the product you’ve demoed today; they’re buying into the innovation you’ll deliver tomorrow. I find it absolutely amazing that at the moment some of the leading channel platforms are already end-of-life products.
When selecting a UCaaS partner, make sure you understand their recent releases. What have they added in the last 12 months and what have they got on their published roadmap? Are they doing well in the market and continuing to invest in R&D? Look at the platform behind the service provider and assess if they’re really innovating and investing in the future.
- Stability, resilience and reliability is the most basic standard your partner needs to deliver
This can be overlooked but making sure you understand the reliability of the platform you’re going to be selling is critical. One of the top reasons customers change UCaaS provider is instability and other user issues, so make sure you understand not only the platform but the underlying infrastructure that the service provider has invested in. If it’s hosted anywhere other than a major London data centre hub with a second data centre as backup, then it’s worth asking more questions.
- Brand is critical to trust
Your customers will look at your proposed UCaaS solution and assess if they trust the solution you’ve put forward. By working with a vendor with a strong and recognisable brand, you give your customers that confidence. They perceive the depth of resources and technical smarts needed to deliver their UCaaS solution and want to trust the vendor you’ve chosen to deliver it.
- Channel-only focus helps make sure your business model is protected and your business’ future is assured
We’re seeing more and more vendors and service providers go direct. Some major vendors are also pushing the channel into an agency model, where the vendor owns the relationship and does the billing. This erodes your business value and puts you at risk, so if you want to minimise these issues, choose a channel only service provider.
- Heritage, experience and a proven platform are a vital part of any UCaaS vendor’s proposition
As the number of platforms proliferate and new entrants deliver an initial low-cost, low-feature proposition, end-users will struggle. The major opportunity that exists is for customers moving from a traditional on-site PBX, so it’s essential to ensure that the solution delivers features the customer is used to and relies upon, like a busy lamp field, call par, night service buttons and many more.
- WebRTC, collaboration, CRM and vertical market integrations are critical features for a UCaaS vendor to offer
Customers’ needs are increasingly sophisticated, and SME and mid-market customers are keen to adopt technologies such as WebRTC. WebRTC delivers a whole host of benefits for businesses of all sizes, as well as for you as a reseller – and easy and rapid deployment, simple access to UC and collaboration tools, plus enhanced user experience is a major part of what your customers will be looking for. The ability to integrate all of this into their existing systems will also be a critical component of the solution, so these are all important factors to bear in mind.
- Differentiation is a double-edged sword
We all know the old adage about no one getting fired for buying IBM, but you also don’t want to be the tenth quote the customer is reviewing for the same product. Look for a product that gives you the best of both worlds and helps you deliver a differentiated proposition that the customer will also trust.
- Add-ins, value adds and ARPU DRIVERS matter
These make a huge difference once you’ve won the customer and want to increase their value to you and keep them engaged in your business and the product. Look for simple add-ins with a trial period that can help you drive up Average Revenue Per User. Tools like advanced analytics, collaboration, contact centre, call recording and other services will deliver huge value over the lifetime of your customer.
- Support is crucial
This may seem like an obvious one, but knowing that there’s someone there when you have a problem or need some help is critical. We’re not just talking about technical support, but commercial support, too. Have you got relationships with a real-live human being at all levels and in all functions of your UCaaS partner? You never know when you’ll need some help or a favour.
- Last but not least: partnership, tools and investment in your business
The perfect UCaaS partner is about so much more than just product. By choosing the right partner, you can add huge resource and capability to your sales, marketing and technical teams. A channel-only partner knows your success is their success and will want to invest accordingly. Look for a partner who delivers you tools that make your life easier – including portals, provisioning, pricing and proposal tools, marketing kits and sales training. And just as importantly, choose a partner who’s aligned with your values, ethos and strategic direction.
Another element to consider is something that’s come to the fore during the pandemic: how does the vendor cope with home-working demands and the challenges of accessing UCaaS over domestic broadband services? SIP ALG has presented significant issues in the past 12 months as many end users have struggled to access their UCaaS platform and devices due to SIP ALG restrictions.
One final thing to ask for is some proof before making a decision. Look at their partner case studies. Who are their partners and are they successful? Don’t be afraid to ask to speak to their reseller partners, either.
If you think Pragma and Ericsson-LG could be the right fit as your UCaaS partner, then contact us today – we’d be happy to talk and we’ll be as open and honest with you as I have been throughout this blog post. That’s a promise.
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