Peter Radizeski is Founder and President of RAD-INFO INC. He is an accomplished blogalyst, speaker, author and consultant. He has helped many service providers with sales training, marketing, channel development and business strategy. He is a trusted source of knowledge about the telecom sector. His honest and direct approach make him a refreshing speaker.

Look for his innovative ideas and analysis of current technology on his blogs.

Meet him at one of the many conferences he attends and speaks at.

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One Thing

If you don’t solve a problem (pain point) or replace an existing product, the channel probably cannot help you.

2 Tips Today (1/16/2020)

As I do a final run through on my slide deck for the sales kick off at TPx, I wanted to share 2 tips from that with you.

First, the Cloud Contact Center space is crowded.

Now that Salesforce, Amazon and twilio have jumped in the space, it is hyper-competitive. Another way to look at it: the ocean of CCC is rising. All boats can rise with the tide. Go out and get your piece of that market.

Remember that Land and Expand is a better strategy than get it all! Line of business managers can buy tech too. The A/P and A/R departments can leverage ACD, IVR and CCaaS as much as the customer care department. Be creative in how you offer functionality to a business or department in order for them to become better, efficient, productive or competitive!

Tip # 2: Microsoft Teams has over 50 million users. MS Teams has 20 million active daily users. That is up 50% in July 2019 when there was just 13M. If you aren’t offering a workplace messaging and collaboration app (MS Teams, Webex Teams, Slack, et al), you are missing out on opportunity and dollars.

Musical Chairs in UCaaS

8×8 is the latest to play musical chairs in the C-Suite. What does all this mean?

A company has a strategy and the executives are hired to drive that strategy. Execution is the deal.

That predicates that the company has a good strategy. That predicates that the company has good products that buyers want to buy and that the company can deliver on the promise of those products.

In UCaaS, more and more I think the product isn’t that desirable. Was Centrex a big seller for the RBOCs? No. PRIs and POTS. Now cell phones.

Despite Shoretel’s demise, Avaya’s BK and other obstacles, PBX equipment has not cratered. Cisco still sells a version of Call Manager.

Change all the executives you want. There’s a reason that Zoom is taking up all the air in the room. It’s time to examine your products and what your customers are actually using – and redesign that strategy around that data.

By the way, changing out the CMO, I assume, is to deliver a different message and maybe the effectiveness of that message. The marketing can’t over-shadow a reputation for service delivery and customer care issues. (And I am not saying that they are the only ones with that reputation.)

The biggest issue UCaaS providers has is NOT sales. It is Service Delivery and Customer Experience. At cut rate pricing, I guess that CX isn’t available.

Back in the heyday of the PBX, the inter-connect handled the install and maintenance. Today, that work is handled by … no one. It is one of the issues that results in the poor CX. It is a gaping hole that no one wants to fill.

You can play musical chairs until the jukebox breaks and that doesn’t change the CX. And that right there is what you need to be strategizing around. Not sales and marketing, but service delivery. And that will take care of the rest.

The 4 Buckets of UCaaS

Since most UCaaS providers do not in fact differentiate themselves in any meaningful way in the marketplace, they end falling into one of 4 Buckets: Cheap, CX, Local or Everyone Else.

There is a sense that UCaaS has become a commodity – and as with all commodities it becomes about price. So as seat prices crater below $15 per seat (even as SPIFFs increase to 6X MRC!), the POTS replacement will continue. In RFPs, it usually comes down to price (unless there is a very specific feature set that is required).

CPaaS sales outgrew UCaaS sales in 2019. Is that due to a combination of simplicity and price? Perhaps.

CX is a bucket that includes service delivery, user design and customer experience (CX). These experiences have a big impact on word-of-mouth recommendations. If your company has a great app or a special functionality or integration that no one else has, then you can get in the CX bucket. If the service offering is HIPAA compliant or encrypted, this could be your bucket. This should turn this bucket into a drum.

Some say that Zoom’s CX is why it is taking most of the air out of the room. About 7 deals out of 10 are going to Zoom, over other video collab or conferencing platforms.

The Local bucket is what many providers fall in. Mom-and-Pop RLECs are in this bucket. Altus, PBX-Change, Stage2 and similar are in this bucket. Most of their business is regional. There is a segment of the SMB Market that wants to buy from other local SMBs. Capitalize on this as much as possible. Local and SMB are good banners to hang.

Then there is Everybody Else! These providers need to figure out how to Ladder or differentiate, because the market can’t sustain this many providers.

Some analysts are talking about how ecosystems will win the future. This is how UCaaS providers are becoming platform/ecosystem providers (think: Salesforce). I think going vertical is a better option than trying to integrate with 20 different CRM software. Being the only UC software integrated into AllState e-Insurance certainly gave 8×8 a leg up. And being vertically integrated means less competition.

The argument against going vertical is this dream that everyone will buy your stuff and you will grow to 1 million users. RingCentral was founded in 1997 and have outspent their competition to hit 1M endpoints. Mitel has been at it since 1973. A number of billion dollar telecom firms have hit a wall. It is more about profitability and satisfied customers.

Channel Hurdles, Part 5

I am currently working on my new book, The ABCs of Channel Programs: Channel Sales Enablement. To help me flush out some content for the book, I decided to talk with some friends in the industry about what hurdles they see in the channel right now.

This podcast is with channel vet (and current VP at CSNG, now an AppSmart company) Christopher Shubert. Chris and I talk about “MarketTexture” and other things. Give it a listen and let me know your thoughts.