By Robert Cooper, Wildix
More than just feature sets or gimmicks, what will convince customers to buy from you, in the long run, is converting the totality of their communications to UC&C.
While the 2020 pandemic was unquestionably a watershed moment for UCaaS, it hasn’t presented the most accessible opportunity to the MSP. Sure, as quarantine orders went into effect and public anxieties became a top concern, businesses instantly went from merely considering cloud-based solutions to making them central to company communications. The hitch is that what followed was a flood of over-the-top solutions with freemium services for everything from collaboration to video to basic calling. In addition, many big-name cloud vendors utilized eCommerce with a similar B2C model, allowing even the most rudimentary internal IT department to acquire quick services and bypass the MSP.
Now, it’s easy to look at this trend and assume that the future of UCaaS will be freemium models and that this price-competitive race to the bottom will continue. However, this prediction ignores the fact that much of what drove this trend to begin with was panic buying. More than measurable business value, what led end-customers to those over-the-top solutions was immediate necessity, the simple need to be equipped with some way to meet sudden demand. It was an out-and-out scramble to find something that could keep communication lines open and get employees working from home. Now that the initial rush has died down—and now that it’s become clear that business communication services are an essential component of digital infrastructures—businesses are now requiring skilled MSPs to help them architect a total business communications solution.
In effect, businesses are looking at how new communications capabilities can help them grow their business, win new customers, and be prepared for the future. All of this will come in one way and one way only: from a complete, fully state-of-the-art UC&C system that’s managed by a dedicated MSP.
Right now, businesses across the board have reached a certain familiarity with UC&C—after all, to them, it's just another telephone system. Their problem, though, is that they likely aren’t using that technology to its full potential. From that initial panic-buying stage, plenty of businesses have been using either one over-the-top solution or a ragtag collection of such products hastily tied together. As a result, UC&C often means nothing more than video calling, possibly with a simple chat component—not an optimized, business-enhancing platform, which, with the right combination of MSP and vendor, the system can become.
The MSP’s point of entry is therefore to pitch the greater value businesses can achieve from an optimized UC&C solution; prospects should hear not just what your solution has to offer in terms of better video call software, but also how it will serve as a better solution for overall business productivity. This is more than just a system that includes the latest bundle of features; it’s a comprehensive system that helps the end user capture new leads, enable smart working, improve business continuity, build business growth, grow customer satisfaction and retention rates, and prepare for the future of business and work itself. What stands out is not just another solution with fancy bells and whistles, but a solution that will actually deliver a fully measurable and tangible ROI.
In broader terms, the only way any UCaaS system is going to have an impact on a customer is if it can promise to bring measurable improvement to their enterprise. And the fact is, for enterprises, meaningful improvement simply does not come through fancier feature sets or a longer list of gimmicks to show off during a demo. Improvement comes from the quantifiable everyday benefits companies stand to gain through digital communications. The added capabilities companies gained through over-the-top solutions are, on a smaller scale, examples of this: even as an incomplete package, those freemium products gave businesses some means of remote working, disaster planning, and a refinement of communication procedures.
If you want to make this offer better, you’ll have to bring improvements to the rest of the communication infrastructure. The path forward will be led by the collapse of the infrastructure and desktop, leading to more secure, accessible, easier-to-use, and easier-to-manage capabilities.
The guiding principle in your deployed solution needs to be this sense of singularity, and for good reason. As technology advances, businesses have a competitive need to collapse the infrastructure and collapse the desktop. For one thing, given the massive breaches we’ve seen in security, there’s a clear and present need to centralize and optimize systems with fewer spread-out, dangling parts. Even on a day-to-day basis, a collapsed business communications infrastructure just brings more convenience and therefore more productive collaboration to business. Above all, with a unified solution, where all the features are in one place, businesses will actually see those desired results of simplified communications.
What the MSP gets out of this is far greater business value with your customer. The reason why comes down to the fact that, by understanding and solving business issues, you’re capable of addressing more of the customer’s infrastructure requirements. By providing more services, you box out competitors simply by providing more of your own value to the customer. Sure, your customer might hear about a different communications system to what you offer—but would it work better for their particular business? Would it integrate neatly into their digital architecture? If you’ve done your job right, the answer is a confident “no.” Because with a full suite of optimized components working together, you’ll have brought your customer true business value.
Of course, none of this will mean very much for your business if the vendor and their solution do not meet the future of technology or, worse yet, is not under your control. As I stated earlier, many of the vendors in this space have now adopted an eCommerce or B2C model that relegates MSPs to effectively an agent’s role: making sales only with the vendor watching over their shoulder, or handing customers over to the vendor to manage, all while making pennies on the dollar for every actual sale. If you must turn to your vendor constantly when it comes to managing your customer base, what good does control do an MSP and their business? How do you provide value if your vendor is the one who actually owns your customer—while you’re unable to provide any true service? To make a long story short, the point of control is worth considering from a business side of things as well, down to how your vendor works with you.
So, when an MSP is coupled with the right vendor and empowered with the ability to provide value as their own specialist, they have room to provide a full complement of value-based capabilities and services. From there, it’s an easy road to success, one paved by that totality of service and support. The philosophy to follow, again, is to ensure your business is the answer to all things communications for your customer. If it’s your installed system that’s streamlining communications, enabling them to grow business equity, and build overall business continuity, it’s a sure bet that the customer will be relying on you to address business issues for years down the line.
When it comes to selling UCaaS, there’s simply no room for leaving things halfway. The way to play is what all the pros tell you: go big or go home. With half measures and partial solutions already taking up spaces in customers’ minds and on most businesses’ hard drives, the way forward for the MSP truly must be stepping away from that race to the bottom on price and moving toward an emphasis on providing a comprehensive, value-based communications solution. As systems integrators, we know the efficiency and massive-scale value that a business can gain once they move to a truly modern enterprise-grade communications solution. The way the current market is headed, it’s only by communicating this exact idea that an MSP can succeed in their own local market.
About The Author
Robert Cooper is Managing Director at Wildix.