Monday, 6 July 2009

Unified Communication: Capturing the Growth Wave


Leading research suggests that the Unified Communications (UC) market in Europe is primed for phenomenal growth over the next 4-5 years. Despite this, there is little evidence that the manufacturing vendors in the space are making the required investments in order to capitalize on the growth opportunity. Many of the vendors in the UC space are still too product centric and are suffering from a “box-pushing” legacy of how to do business that is hard to shake.

Recognizing that UC represents an expanded chapter of the convergence of voice, data and video, vendors need to develop sales channels with improved capabilities, new routes to market and simplified delivery models. Vendors should hit the reset button, and revaluate how they sell through indirect channels and how they manage, motivate and support its value added resellers.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the white paper. I had a quick read – very interesting. What struck me most is that although the focus of your paper is UC, the majority of what you say would, in my view, be applicable to the reseller channels for a much wider range of big ticket products and services (e.g. storage solutions, electronic document management systems etc, etc).

    I was interested in the point you make about the need for vendors to invest in sales education for resellers (and I do think education is the operative word, rather than training). One of the issues anyone selling a solution like UC faces is the need to identify, map and engage with a much more complex decision making unit than used to be the case. Many of these resellers will have grown up selling boxes to telecommunications managers. Now they will need to find:

    - an innovation champion to socialise the need for change among the leadership team (could be the CIO but could also be a non-exec or even a marketing director)

    - the infrastructure owner whose plumbing and apps are going to be used or ripped out (could be the CIO, but could already be an outsource partner)

    - the security/governance/compliance team

    - the money guys (CFO, CEO, CIO) and maybe some of their influencers (non-execs, consulting firms, etc)

    - user communities

    - etc.

    You are right to talk about the change in business drivers that the recession has brought about. But selling a solution like UC is not only about matching benefits to hot button drivers, it’s also about de-risking the decision for the people who will have to sanction spending the money. This requires creating a positive sphere of influence in the wider decision making unit. And the skills and arguments needed to create this sphere of influence through the elaborated consultative sales approach are way beyond the classic reseller sales director...
    To get back to the point, the appropriate investment by vendors in educating resellers in consultative selling and providing subject matter experts to do some of the work to create that sphere of influence is absolutely critical. Customers want proof that the vendor is 100% behind the reseller and what better way to demonstrate this than have a vendor exec meet some of the key decision makers?

    The question I have to ask, though, is do the UC vendors have the consultative selling know-how themselves?

    All the best.

    Francis Aglen