Being an entrepreneur, business owner, telecom broker, speaker, and author, I’ve had plenty of chances to make mistakes—some large, some small. Over time, I’ve learned what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t. The funny thing is, however, that the recipe for success, or at least the strategy behind it, changes. What I did in 2002 wouldn’t necessarily work today, and vice versa.
Interesting point, right? Well, this got me thinking: What would I do if I could be a telecom broker and start a cloud brokerage agency, today, knowing what I know now? After much thought (and recent experiences with hundreds of cloud and telecom brokers), here is my hypothetical business plan.
Step One—Define my value: This telecom broker is an architect of outcomes.
My first step in starting my telecom broker practice is to create my own NOC. Using the Telarus VXPulse system (for no added cost), I’m going to set up a monitor the visitors to my office will be able to see. My goal is to show my future customers I care about the products I’m selling/recommending from cradle to grave. By creating a system that can gather data on the services they are using, I can change the conversations I’ll be having with them.
After I have my NOC complete, I’ll enhance my education of cloud-based products and services. Telarus hosts a free conference call every Tuesday that reviews all of the recent events telecom brokers need to know, with discussions on new technology and products becoming available to the channel.
For large customers, I’ll look to pitch “help with their cloud strategy.” Recent studies from Nemertes shows that more than 80 percent of companies don’t have a cloud strategy. This means there is a huge opportunity to score big, just by helping them with a strategy. It also means I don’t have to pitch one cloud provider over another. I know I can get in with a Telarus cloud engineer, or at least with a Unitas Global cloud engineer, and help the customer come up with a plan.
Step Two—Build My Value: Develop a Network
Next I would start to build up my network of VARs—or referral partners so we can work together to help them establish a telecom broker practice. My lead-in to them would be VXSuite, the best software on the market for them to build into their phone system management platform. Although I’ll only earn five percent of their monthly spend, helping them troubleshoot VoIP issues in less than half the time, and enabling them to do VoIP pre-assessments, will get me in the door—especially to those who don’t much care about carrier services (yet).
I would start with Avaya and ShoreTel VARs. Both have “hosted PBX” quotas from their respective manufacturers to maintain their current status levels. Recently, Windstream announced they are the exclusive partner of Avaya hosted solutions. With Windstream, I can layer hosted solutions (think presence, chat, video conferencing) onto existing Avaya hardware users, with the help of their engineers. The customer can keep their multi-million dollar Avaya environment, and we can help it talk to Microsoft Skype for Business (Lync).
ShoreTel has followed suit, imposing mandatory sales of its hosted PBX offering, ShoreTel Sky. Telarus is in a unique place to help me help ShoreTel VARs because we are in the process of installing VXSuite probes in the ShoreTel Sky environment, and because it also has in-house ShoreTel engineers who came as part of the VXSuite acquisition. If there were ever a company who could help ShoreTel VARs with Sky implementations, even in a hybrid format, it would be Telarus.
Step Three—Identify Low-hanging Fruit
Of course, the “low hanging fruit” for most of these VARs will be the “I’ll help free-up budget on the telecom side to help finance your gear” conversation. In reality, I’m hoping to increase the customer’s spend by rolling more of their infrastructure into my hands.
- If I find the customer has servers lurking in the closet, that’s an instant data center or cloud services conversation.
- If I see the customer has company-owned cell phones, that’s an Advantix wireless management outsourcing conversation.
- If I see any devices that transmit credit cards, that’s a firewall and PCI compliance conversation.
- If I see an existing hosted PBX system, I’ll be asking if it integrates with their CRM so their call center reps can get screen pops of customers as they call in.
- If they are standing up a new phone system (with my VAR), I’ll be asking if we know if their existing network can handle the traffic and offering a pre-assessment before deployment.
- If I see they have TDM (copper) services, I’ll be asking why they haven’t moved to fiber.
- If I see they have only one method of outside connectivity, I’ll be asking why they don’t have an auto-failover ISP.
- If I see they store all of their data in one place, I’ll be asking what their disaster recovery plan is.
And so on.
No matter what I uncover, I know Telarus can handle it either through one of their carrier partners or through their professional services division: VXSWAT. I can help customers with their Skype for Business (Lync) implementations. I can help with an old phone system my VAR inherits. I can help a customer migrate their email from Google to Exchange. And I can do it all under my own brand or the brand of my VAR.
Step Four—Host a Networking Party with Telarus
Next I would host a local “party” and invite all of the local ShoreTel and Avaya VARs to join me for dinner, a sporting event, or whatever. With a quick call to my Telarus RVP, I can generate a list of people who fit my ideal profile. Using LinkedIn, I can reach out to them online, and using “list extraction” technology from Telarus, I can get their phone numbers so I can call them and extend the invitation personally. I’ll pick a place that isn’t too far for them to drive and one that is sure to pique their interest.
I would make sure I have a good “drip” marketing system so I can keep them engaged with me for a long period. As part of this drip campaign I’d talk about new technologies such as SDN (software defined networking), private/public cloud, MOS score analytics, and making the transition to the residual model. As a telecom broker I can represent lots of different options.
Step Five—Let Telarus Account Management Work for Me
Lastly, I’d engage with the Telarus account management team and “make them mine.” Right after I sign new agreements with customers, I’ll be introducing Nichole as “my” customer service specialist. Nichole will ensure my customers installation goes well, that their first bill is correct, and maintain a steady relationship with that customer forever. If she ever finds an opening to make a new sale, she’ll let me know, and I’ll jump on it. Having that extra pair of eyes on my accounts at all times, in addition to the circuit monitoring, will cut my churn more than 80 percent, allowing me to keep and grow my residuals for the long term.
There are lots of ways to skin this cat, but this is the way I would approach my business today.
Are you a telecom broker? Have you had successes and failures in this business? Let me know what you’d do differently in the comment section below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Telarus has recently acquired VXSuite and is looking to help partners establish a telecom broker practice. Contact your Telarus RVP today to find out how.