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Telarus: VXSuite, Nontraditional Services Sales to Propel Agents

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TELARUS PARTNER SUMMIT — Master agency Telarus kicked off the first full day of its annual Partner Summit in Deer Valley, Utah, with a review of the company’s biggest news of the past year and a focus on how industry changes are likely to impact its partners.

CEO Adam Edwards (foreground) and co-founder Patrick Oborn deliver the "State of Telarus" address at the master agent's Partner Summit in Deer Valley, Utah, on June 22.The biggest news from the master agent in the past 12 months is the acquisition of VXSuite, software that provides Telarus’ partners the analytics to ensure the quality of voice traffic on the data networks they sell. The buy was first announced at Cloud Partners last fall in Boston. The company followed that up at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas with the debut of VXSupportLine, a VoIP self-help troubleshooting service designed to eliminate finger-pointing between cloud applications and their suppliers. A Web-based platform, VXSupportLine lets Telarus partners test, diagnose and assist their hosted UC customers to identify network-performance problems that negatively impact VoIP quality.

“Telarus, since the day we started this company … this industry lacked automation,” said Patrick Oborn, co-founder, Telarus. “[VXSuite] fits right into that strategy. VXSuite will help our partners differentiate themselves, become [unified communications] experts.”

“It’s tough to compete against direct sales teams,” he added. “It’s a bloodbath because if those guys don’t sell, they get fired. Having something like free circuit monitoring (a VXSuite service) is a great value to you and your clients.”{ad}

Jason Para, founder of agency Broadstring Communications, backed up Oborn’s claim.

“It gives us a competitive advantage when we’re selling against a direct team,” Para told Channel Partners. “We can offer a network monitoring tool versus a direct tool. It’s a pretty big advantage.”

Telarus also has spent the past year expanding its solution-sales, cloud-engineering, project-management and account-management services.

Account management – in which the master agent provides account managers to take on the task of day-to-day support for partners’ customers – is in particular a focus, with Telarus looking to increase the number of partners using the service from 7 percent this year to 25 percent in 2017.

“Some members of our President’s Club (top 20 partners) are using [Telarus’ account management],” said Adam Edwards, Telarus CEO. “The biggest value has been the upsell. The upsell alone has paid for …

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… this service and made it worthwhile. Partners can focus on going out and getting new customers.”

“It’s a great asset, especially for the telecom agents who are looking to be able to keep continued growth,” Chris Ichelson, CEO of Scottsdale, Arizona-based Horizon Technology Group, told Channel Partners. “The biggest problem with 99 percent of telco agents out there is that they become customer service reps as opposed to sales reps. And eventually you flat-line your business and you can’t grow any further. With Telarus launching base management and other tools like that, I think it can in the future put that person who became a customer service rep back into the sales model.”

“A lot of our investment is going back into our company and this group,” Oborn added. “Managing our base and upselling to them is so important. It’s something masters traditionally haven’t done. Account management will be the new normal because partners will be so focused on selling advanced services.”

Those advanced services are bandwidth, networking monitoring and unified communications.

“When you can become experts and selling those three categories, you’re going to be the hub instead of the spoke,” Oborn said.

Telarus is offering a new incentive for partners who sell those services. The new Triple Crown Award reduces the revenue requirement to become a member of the master agent’s President’s Club, thus making earning a trip to Cabo San Lucas a little easier.

Meantime, Telarus is watching the industry’s big acquisitions closely. Citing Windstream’s sale of its data-center business to TierPoint, Charter’s huge buy of fellow cableco Time Warner Cable, ShoreTel’s purchase of Corvisa and more, Edwards is optimistic about the opportunities for partners. He calls it all part of a “healthy acquisition cycle.”

Verizon’s pending $1.8 billion acquisition of XO Communications’ fiber business might be the one that impacts Telarus and its partners the most. Complimentary of XO’s history in the channel, Edwards said: “We hope [Verizon] will recognize the value of the channel and what it brings [post closing]. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out and impacts us.”

Follow senior online managing editor Craig Galbraith on Twitter.


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