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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Finding Opportunity

I’ve read a number of articles and listened to a number of vConference sessions about “finding opportunity” and how to grow in 2020/2021. What a bunch of pie in the sky, textbook level BS. Why is it BS? Most people don’t want theory or vision answers, they want actionable intelligence.

How to find opportunity? Look in your CRM! Get more wallet share from your current customers! Talk to them about what they are using; what they like and don’t like; and what they are struggling with. Therein lies your opportunity.

Again in your CRM: customers you lost. Try talking to them again. Maybe have a conversation about just how are they doing after a year of this. Ya know, Be Human!

Next, do you have a favorite vendor? Ask them for use cases that concisely explain business outcomes to a vertical. In other words, how does a dental office or small business benefit from this product offering? This will be easy, since most vendors will not have this material, so it isn’t like you will be flooded with stuff to read.

Has a vendor been spamming you or calling you? Take the call. Ask them to – in a single sentence – explain what business benefits the most from their product offering and why. If they can’t answer, say good-bye.

After the CRM and the vendors, ask a peer. Don’t know one? Ask your master agency to hook you up with one – or use that LinkedIn account that has been dormant for you.

There was a flurry of activity in haste last year. Now that business is settling down is the time to discuss the pros and cons of what they are using to see if you can improve it, add to it or tell them they made a good choice.

Good luck!

Sales Tips for March 2021

In this LinkedIn post, the video of a sales trainer described buying a Porsche during the pandemic in Park City. There are 3 take aways from this video for anyone selling today.

One is to remove friction from the sales process.

An example is to utilize e-sign for contracts. Another is to gather as much info as possible early on and follow up pre-meeting with as many questions answered as possible. If the client is a Microsoft shop looking for direct routing, describe what they are getting in a colorful way as well as how it will be implemented. Take away the guess work. Paint a picture.

The second point is to meet people where they are. If they don’t want to come to the office or have you drop by, have a Zoom call. Regardless of how you feel about masks, you should defer to asking the prospect or customer what would make them comfortable. It is about being courteous. An anxious prospect is not buying!

The final take away is that sales is about a win-win. They may appear to be buying technology, but they are really buying what that tech is going to do for them. Deliver the outcome they want.

Since most of the buyer’s sales process takes place online now, keep that front and center as you react and follow up. How can you provide the necessary information to the buyer? Ask better questions!

Extra resource: A good article about adapting to the new selling landscape – article.

If you or your team need sales training or coaching to improve sales, RAD-INFO can provide that. Call now 813-963-5884

Inteliquent Acquired (and other UC M&A)

Inteliquent is an interesting bird. It is one of the largest VoIP/SIP providers in North America, primarily known for VoIP orig/termination and DIDs. They cover about 94% of the rate centers. It is a combination of Neutral Tandem, Tinet, APNI, Broadvox, Layered Comm., Acrobits, BetterVoice, Voyant and Onvo. It was owned by PE firm GCTR. At one time parts of this company were public and parts were owned by Zayo. Now a European (Swedish) company (Sinch) has acquired it for $1.1B in cash. The funny thing about this transaction is that my email was blowing up as we tried to figure out what companies this included.

Note that Sinch lays claim to mobile & customer engagement, instead of CPaaS. You can’t get a billion dollars if you say you are a UCaaS or CPaaS company. You have to be talking about outcomes like customer engagement. Twilio is the biggest CPaaS provider, but that’s not their tagline or mentioned in PR.

Being a technology provider – CPaaS, UCaaS, broadband, CCaaS, what-have-you-aa-S – isn’t nearly as important as the business outcome your customers achieve when applying your technology.

It has been an active two months with over 100 deals in our space (telecom, MSP, IT) so far. The big ones are as follows:

Sangoma is acquiring Star2Star. The valuation is $437M, based on $79M in revenue of which 80% is recurring. FYI.. Star2Star produced over $14.7 (USD) million of adjusted EBITDA and adjusted net income of $2.6 million (USD).  As of September 30, 2020, Star2Star had total assets of $35M (USD) and liabilities of $61 million. The deal calls for $105M in cash and the rest in stock. S2S CEO and co-founder, Norm, and the VC partner (NewSpring Capital) will hold about a 12% stake in Sangoma. Sangoma also owns Digium/Asterisk/Switchvox; FreePBX; VoIP Supply; Dialogic; and E4. Sangoma Technologies Corporation is publicly traded on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSX VENTURE: STC).

Momentum Telecom acquired another Cisco/Broadsoft customer in Altus. Altus is based in Nashville. They are just one of the 400+ providers powered by the old Broadsoft softswitch that are trying to adjust to a world where Cisco owns the softswitch and wants it all to be Webex and SaaS. So a CSP kind of becomes an MSP, just managing the service that Cisco is providing.

BCM One, which acquired Arena One (a BSFT shop) in 2019, picked up Netsapiens’ white-label partner, Skyswitch. BCM One also bought LincLogix. BCM One is owned by a PE firm.

Alianza (a softswitch white label provider) is acquiring CounterPath for $25.7 Million. Counterpath is mostly known for its softphone Bria, but also provides Bria Teams and a cloud contact center product. CounterPath is publicly traded on the NASDAQ (symbol: CPAH) and the Canadian TSX Exchange (symbol: PATH).

RealPage bought Whitesky. Whitesky mainly sold to MDU and MTU like dorms, apartments, hotels and adult living communities.

PE firm, Renovus Capital Partners has acquired Inflow.

One of my old clients, Primus, was acquired by a fellow Canadian provider, Distributel. Primus had a complicated history as well with many owners over the years including Birch then Fusion (when Birch and Fusion merged). Primus is a Broadsoft shop.

Is MSF Just Signaling?

In this article about Super Bowl ads, GapingVoid points out that it isn’t so much advertising as Signaling. A Super Bowl implies, “It sends consumers the message, even subconsciously, that the brand is a real player for the long haul — so big, successful, and confident that it can throw around this kind of money.”

Isn’t that what MDF is to some degree? Marketing funds are spent at shows and at master agencies & distributors (examples include Ingram, Tech Data, Microcorp, and AppSmart) to signal to partners that they are available in the market. It is a form of Branding, but really it is about throwing out money to get attention.

On a coffee break with the channel today, we again discussed the MDF. A few participants suggested that there will be more accountability this year for MDF. There will be less of and a tighter grip will be held on the checkbook, since most vendors – carriers, service providers, MSPs – did not get their ROI on the funds in 2020. (Some would argue they have never been able to calculate an ROI on MDF, but those folks may be cynical. The calculation is in the sales.)

As one vendor pulls the purse strings another will come along with a check to fill that monetary void. This industry is so me-too that there is certainly another vendor just around the corner who provides something similar. There are 2000 providers of Hosted VoIP/UCaaS. There are how many AT&T resellers? Does the buyer or the partner even know what the difference is (or what value the vendor brings) before utilizing them? Likely not. So pay the MDF and signal to the crowd that you are open for business.

Where Does the 2000 come from?

I often quote 2000+ hosted VoIP providers in the US as the number of competitors. Here’s how I came up with that number.

There are roughly 850 members of NTCA (The Rural Broadband Association).

The NCTC works with over 700 members throughout the cable and broadband industry. There is overlap here with some other orgs.

NCTA (formerly the National Cable & Telecommunications Association or the cable lobby) consists of 200+ members including Mediacom, Cox, Comcast and Charter.

Broadsoft had 400+ CSP customers before Cisco acquired them.

Netsapiens has 100+ CSP customers.

No one knows how many small providers have some homebrew platform built on Asterisk, Kazoo, Freeswitch, or FreePBX – running their “Hosted VoIP’ service. Of the top 20 UCaaS players, most are homebrew (8×8, RingCentral, Vonage, Broadview/WIND, Fuze, Avaya, Mitel, GoTo/Jive, Dialpad, Zoom, Star2Star, Amazon, Crexendo, Google and Intermedia). Many of the providers that used to show up at ITEXPO or CP were homebrew (by which I mean, the softswitch was not Broadsoft, Metaswitch or Ribbon).

Consider that Skyswitch (now BCM One) and Coredial combined power over 500 MSPs to offer Hosted VoIP. Alianza powers a bunch of WISPs, satellite, cable and other providers.

Do the math to show that the estimate of 2000 isn’t far fetched.