Resellers, BT Conferencing Wants You to Sell to U.S. SMBs

By Kelly Teal Comments
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Resellers interested in working with a conferencing provider that does not compete against its partners in the SMB space have a new option in the United States.

BT Conferencing said on Wednesday it is expanding its channel program to include resellers that target small and medium companies. Up to this point, BT Conferencing has targeted enterprises in the United States directly and will continue to do so. Yet, for its SMB strategy, the Britain-based company didn't want to hire thousands of feet on the street; it decided instead that selling its audio, web, streaming and video conferencing services through resellers was the way to go. And BT Conferencing is using its lack of a direct sales force as a recruitment tool.

"We keep hearing a growing dissatisfaction" over channel conflict, said Ken Velten, head of BT Conferencing's channel partner program. "We don't go after that [SME space] directly and we're not going to."

In exchange, BT Conferencing wants larger resellers with collaboration expertise. So far, the company hasn't set its sights on agents, simply because that's "a bit like trying to herd cats to get the volumes we're looking for," Velten said. BT Conferencing may investigate selling through master agents or getting Tier 1 resellers to roll up agents underneath them, but for now, it's sticking to resellers.

This seems like an important opportunity for resellers. That's because they have been struggling to replace their once-lucrative up-front payments for hardware sales with recurring revenue. BT's conferencing services provide that form of compensation; plus, partners can offer maintenance and network services agreements, as well as remote endpoint monitoring, and easily earn at least 10 percent more from their customers, Velten said. However, resellers can opt for a referral fee if they don't want to handle the end-user billing.

Another value proposition is that BT Conferencing has built the Global Video Exchange, a series of agreements with other service providers, to connect any vendor's telepresence technology. "Any of these video telepresence units can talk with one another through our Global Video Exchange...with higher bandwidth that what was previously done on ISDN or IP video," said Velten.

In terms of support for resellers, BT Conferencing offers a portal with proprietary marketing resources, a place to view bills and more.

So far, BT Conferencing has inked four contracts with resellers in the United States; it expects two more to close in the next few weeks, and hopes to seal another six in the next six months. The company also wants to see its partners target specific verticals including oil and gas and the public sector.

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