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Speakeasy Lures Partners With New Products, Incentives

Broadband services provider Speakeasy Inc. expects to grow its VoIP business 51 percent over last year, largely with the help of its expanding number of channel partners. Speakeasy also plans to reward those indirect salespeople for their efforts it already has unveiled a new T-1 incentive.

The Seattle-based company, now owned by retailer Best Buy, in 2007 boasted about 4,000 partners. That included referral partners, and voice and data experts. Now, more than 6,000 independent partners bring in 35 percent to 40 percent of new sales each month, Bruce Chatterley, president and CEO of Speakeasy, told PHONE+ on March 13.

Much of that is because Speakeasy this year shifted its approach to finding customers. Instead of looking for businesses at the right inflection point either moving offices or replacing obsolete systems and so on salespeople now can pitch an easier product to all SMBs. Take phone service over a data connection, put an IAD at the end of that data connection to convert digital waves to analog and voilà, a phone system that saves companies up to 35 percent on their telecom spend, Chatterley said.

Speakeasy now offers an off-net VoIP product as well. Customers can use any broadband provider and put Speakeasys VoIP on top of it.

Speakeasy mostly works with IT consultants, who know the data side of telecom. Over the next year, Speakeasy will reach out to more traditional telephony resellers because now we have a product that makes them extremely competitive.

The telephony guys will have to get up to speed on data, as Speakeasy also plans to roll out managed services some time in 2008. The approach not only creates a new revenue stream, it eliminates Speakeasy as a possible competitor to its data-focused channel partners. Those IT consultants typically sell a server, install it on-site and earn a retainer for managing the server.

For us not to be a threat, we need to enable a hosted version of that same scenario, to be remotely managed by the IT consultant, Chatterley said. I would expect that in the coming year.

Speakeasys infrastructure and incentive initiatives will be announced in pieces, Chatterley said. But a good example is the current promotion. Speakeasy is offering two months worth of recurring revenue, plus a one-time payout, when an end user buys a $279 T-1. The customer must buy five lines or five seats, as well as hosted VoIP. Solutions providers continue to receive their recurring revenue on top of the promotional spiff.

In the coming year, were going to introduce new programs for channel partners to help make them more money new compensation programs and new products to help make them more competitive, Chatterley said.


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