IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Getting Out of the VAR Comfort Zone

Disruption in the traditional UC sales model requires VARs to emulate MSPs and focus on becoming communications business consultants. By Robert Cooper

DISRUPTION—be it in the market or in technology—is changing traditional sales models. Take unified communications. Fresh solutions now roll out at a bewildering speed, and with so many new players in tech sales, capitalizing on those products looks to be anyone’s game.

Or, almost anyone’s. One sales model that just isn’t measuring up against disruption is that of the traditional VAR. Increased customer empowerment has allowed UC vendors to skip the channel, instead creating a new manufacturer's channel that uses agents to sell directly to the end customer.

As a result, VARs can no longer limit themselves to simply reselling technology. They must adapt to the example we see from MSPs, with recurring licenses taking center stage in their business plan. But to truly evolve and achieve greater market stability, VARs and MSPs need to focus on becoming dedicated advisers.

A Recurring Revenue Model

Consider the speed of the IT market from the consumer’s perspective: To them, the threat of obsolescence hangs over every solution they invest in. Since something new is always about to hit shelves, what good is a one-time purchase of software? Or of hardware, for that matter?

Customers are starting to prefer the as-a-service model, which offers both flexible monthly pricing and the security of future upgrades. If VARs want to remain competitive, they must deliver their products through flat recurring licensing plans and act as an MSP—a professional who sells and connects a full package of communications solutions on a regular basis. Beyond giving customers the promise that their tech will never be outdated, this model also grants vendors security of their own through recurring revenue.

Sell as a Service—Be at Their Service

However, as crucial as it is to sell like an MSP, that process by itself doesn’t necessarily make a VAR competitive. That takes selling something beyond technology—and beyond what the big-name brands offer.

While digital disruption has created plenty of new innovations, it’s also created a lot of confusion. For consumers, it’s nearly impossible to keep up. That gives VARs and MSPs the perfect opportunity to act as a consultative voice to recommend solutions, and then train customers in using them in a business capacity.

Consider the business issues typical companies need to solve. They have offices to connect, conferences to conduct, and partners to contact. The demand here for a vendor to identify, integrate, and implement tech to address these issues is so obvious, it’s almost screaming in our faces.

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