By Nancy Ridge of Telecom Brokers
As a technology adviser, I often consult with small and medium business (SMB) owners who recognize the importance of technology to the growth of their companies but don’t have the time to stay on top of the latest products and services available to them. As a result, I spend much of my time keeping business clients up to speed on today’s rapidly changing technologies, new players and viable solutions. Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about TPx UCx solutions.
Those of us in California have known TPx, formerly TelePacific, as the provider that set the standard for quality of service and commitment to customers for the past two decades. The company has a proven history of focusing on relationships as much as technology, which helps us deliver a range of solutions to meet the evolving needs of business users and take care of those users long after implementation. Over time, TPx has evolved into a national managed services carrier whose UCaaS, SD-WAN and managed IT solutions help SMBs drive workforce productivity, improve the quality of products and services, and attract and retain new customers.
I say this as an impartial industry observer and representative of dozens of carriers and other service providers. Our company, Telecom Brokers, works with hundreds of independent sales agents to provide all manner of technology solutions to business clients across the country. In the past, our agents’ discussions with clients frequently focused on phone service, Internet access and network connectivity. That’s still a part of the conversation, of course. But increasingly our agent partners are talking to clients about addressing functional challenges that cause them to be inefficient, serve customers poorly or lose business.
Increasingly, our agents are leveraging TPx products to present new ideas to SMB clients. For example, rather than define collaboration, mobility and cloud as separate domains, TPx enables us to present them as integrated components of its UCx solution. UCx supports file sharing and makes it easier and more secure for mobile employees to stay connected on the go. UCx also gives businesses the ability to transcribe voicemails that can then be read and stored as email, and connect customer service reps in an internal call center that’s integrated with their CRM to deliver pertinent customer information.
With UCx, there also is no need for a separate conferencing service. Indeed, UCx conferencing services perform well and offer features and controls not available with many other systems. That pleases a lot of SMB clients, but they are most excited to learn that they can combine UCx with SD-WAN for Quality of Service (QoS) and failover, even for a single location. In other words, they don’t have to fear moving to VoIP even if they’ve previously experienced poor quality with well-known VoIP brands.
I’ve only touched on a few of the advantages of UCx, but it’s these kinds of capabilities that make life easier for our SMB clients. The challenge for technology distributors like myself is that clients aren’t aware of all the benefits. But that’s a challenge I’m happy to take on if it helps my clients do business better.
About the Author
Nancy Ridge is executive vice president for Telecom Brokers, a full-service technology distributor with a portfolio of products which includes phone service, Internet, MPLS, cloud computing, security and other communication related products from over 150 global service providers. Ridge has served national and key accounts in the telecommunications and utility industries for more than 27 years, serving in senior management positions. She also is past president and co-founder of Women in the Channel, a past board member for Technology Channel Association. Ridge has been recognized as a 2013 nominee for Orange County Women in Business award, and was honored by a 2015 Silver “Stevie” award from the American Business Association for her work with Women in the Channel.
by Caleb Tucker of Sandler Partners
Unified Communications (UC) is fundamentally transforming the way businesses communicate and collaborate. By 2023, the UC market will be a nearly $100 billion market annually, according to a January 2017 study published by Global Market Insights, due largely to the ability for UC to “improve operational efficiency and reduce costs.” Cost efficiencies, automated updates, on-demand scalability, pay-per-instance flexibility and reductions in travel burdens all contribute to surging demand for UC. Hosted UC solutions, in particular, are winning fans across all industries and segments because of their ability to empower the 21st Century workforce with flexibility across both time (shifts, access to work tools after hours, etc.) and space (mobile and remote workers, etc.).
At Sandler Partners, we are witnessing the impact of hosted UC, or UC-as-a-service (UCaaS), first hand across our sales-partner base of more than 5,400 telecom agents, IT consultants, VARs and MSPs. With prospects and customers familiar with its benefits, UCaaS is becoming a solution customers ask for when our sales partners walk through their doors. And with those clients who are unfamiliar, UCaaS empowers our sales partners to wipe away their headaches with its ability to cut costs, enable a distributed workforce and simplify complex communications products and services across multiple locations.
While UCaaS, in concept, can deliver on this promise, the market is cluttered with me-too providers. It’s important for our sales partners to align their clients’ needs with the right UCaaS provider. They’re looking for the “x” factor — a variable that could have the most significant impact on the outcome — to provide the best solution for their clients’ requirements and preferences.
Take our sales partner Joe Saullo of First Class Connection, for example. Saullo was working with the CTO of a multilocation real estate firm who needed to get his arms around his communications infrastructure, which had been added on an ad-hoc basis as the company grew, with no master plan or direction in mind. Like so many fast-growing companies, this firm added services randomly to meet specific, point-in-time needs without regard to the entire environment.
An extensive audit of bills and services revealed that Saullo’s customer had a hodgepodge of services from various voice and VoIP providers across the company’s 27 locations in California, Arizona and Nevada. The company also was using four major ISPs along with a couple of smaller independent ISPs, again at random. Communications between employees, offices and customers also were managed through a myriad of tools (e.g., Outlook, Google, online chat solutions, etc.).
Understandably, the company’s executive leaders wanted to improve communications across the organization. Meanwhile, the company’s IT director remained skeptical and imposed certain technical demands and other considerations.
In answer to these requirements Saullo recommended TPx and two other major UCaaS providers that offered Tier 1 service throughout the customer’s footprint and could provide softphone and mobile apps across a wide range of devices.
This is where the “x” factor came into play. TPx sent a car to pick up the real estate firm’s CTO and IT director (the “skeptic”) and took them to a TPx company event where its mobile UCx demo trailer was set up to show the solution’s capabilities. Here, Saullo’s client met the senior sales team at TPx as well as its CEO Dick Jalkut. They addressed all the client’s questions and concerns directly, including a direct pledge from Jalkut to fix issues if they arise.
This experience stood in stark contrast to the real estate firm’s prior experience with communications companies. Despite a significant spend on communications, they had never met an account rep let alone an executive from any of their previous providers.
This was the x factor that enabled Saullo to wear the white hat with his customers. With the skeptical IT director’s nerves soothed, Saullo was able to reduce a mishmash of nearly two-dozen providers and solutions to a single, unified platform with backup from another major ISP – all seamlessly delivered through TPx. The solution included productivity and application upgrades the client requested, including mobile video (which is highly valuable to real-estate firms), Office 365, new handsets that offered uniformity across the organization and more.
Even with this huge boost in performance and capabilities from TPx, Saullo also cut the customer’s annual telecom expenses by 25% while increasing capacity five-fold.
Saullo’s story is not unique in our experience with cloud UC; it can lower bills, expand services, simplify management and eliminate many customer headaches. His story also is not unique in our experience with TPx, which consistently goes above-and-beyond in all aspects of customer and agent partner care – the most potent “x” factor of all.
About the Author
Caleb Tucker is the consigliere at Sandler Partners, America’s fastest-growing distributor of connectivity and cloud services. Caleb is an experienced sales leader and top performer in both direct and indirect sales channels, focusing individuals and leading sales teams across enterprise, commercial and SMB markets. He is a constant innovator, enabling fast responses to market conditions, increased customer engagement and the constant pursuit of growth opportunities. Under his leadership, Caleb’s business channels have consistently earned awards and recognition for performance and scalability achievements.