How Master Agents Can Help Solution Providers Get Comfortable With Cloud

Selling cloud-based communications isn’t the same as peddling desk phones. Master agents well-versed in cloud services can help solution providers get up to speed with cloud-based offerings and its selling model that will help generate reoccurring revenue in the long run for channel partners. 

Many businesses are becoming interested in giving their employees access to communication capabilities that better match their increasingly flexible working habits. At the same time, an upfront investment in a premise-based unified communications (UC) platform can be expensive, and often hard to justify. In order to give employees access to the next-generation UC features they are asking for – like mobile communication apps – businesses are considering cloud-based UC, and looking to their solution providers for help.

Cloud-based UC offerings help put sought-after features within reach for more customers, said Bill Smith of U.S. Communications Group, a telecommunications and IT services provider based in Alpharetta, Ga.

“[Cloud-based UC] opens you up to a whole host of customers, like those that maybe would have been just been a candidate for our traditional TDM or smaller VoIP systems that aren’t as feature-rich,” Smith said.

Communications technology company Digium and master agent Global Convergence Inc. (GCI) have recently expanded their partnership to include cloud services. GCI partners will now be able to sell Digium’s Switchvox Cloud UC business phone systems and Digium SIP Trunking services to SMB end customers.

Digium and GCI aren’t strangers. The two companies have worked together for about seven years, with GCI partners selling Digium’s premise-based UC portfolio of solutions, including Switchvox IP phones and gateways. The expanded partnership names GCI as a member of Digium’s Cloud Agent Program, said Gayle Magee, director of worldwide distribution and DCS sales for Huntsville, Ala.-based Digium.

“Having sold Digium’s premise-based solutions for years, this is the next evolution in our relationship with them,” said Jennifer Bryant, Oldsmar, Fla.-based GCI’s vice president of channel marketing. “We are excited to offer partners the ability to have on-prem hardware and cloud solutions so they can engage new customers.”

Customers are coming to partners and asking specifically for cloud services, Bryant said. “It adds a lot of flexibility for partners that we already have, and it also gives MSPs [managed service providers] and other solution providers that are already playing in the cloud access to [Digium’s] Switchvox Cloud solution,” she said.

U.S. Communications Group is a partner to both Digium and GCI. The company sells Digium’s premise-based UC product line, as well as its Switchvox Cloud UC offering. But while they were able to go through their trusted master agent GCI for the purchase of Digium’s premise-based products, they were on their own when it came to the cloud products, Smith said.