SaaS Help Channel Partners Build ARPU, Customer Loyalty

Software as a Service is gaining ground, creating new opportunities for the channel. According to research firm In-Stat, over the next 12 months the percentage of U.S. companies implementing SaaS-based business management applications will approach the percentage of firms deploying traditional licenses for those applications.

“There is a lot of excitement surrounding SaaS and on-demand software services,” said Robert A. Bye, executive vice president, nGenX, who, along with Venture Group Enterprises Inc. President and CEO Doug Turpin, will be a panelist during Monday’s “Simplifying SaaS Sales” session.

“There is an opportunity for traditional telecom agents to take advantage of this buzz and broaden the services they market,” said Bye. “SaaS and on-demand software services deliver high margins, increase customer loyalty and provide a tremendous value to the end user.”

While on-demand software services may seem to require a lot of IT knowledge, Bye said that these sales are a natural addition to the telecom channel, and the telecom agent, with the right partner, doesn’t have to be deeply versed in computing technologies.

“Marketing this service comes down to a relationship sale, not a technology sale,” he explained. “SaaS and on-demand software service providers relieve customers of their obligation to maintain and operate all or part of their computer network. There are some basic qualifications to understand before determining whether an on-demand solution will benefit the customer. Once qualified, the provider’s sales engineering team should enter the sale in support of the telecom agent: crafting a solution, answering questions and providing a customize proposal — even helping close the customer.”

Turpin added that Venture Group, the exclusive sales and marketing partner for nGenX, is reaching out to numerous different types of partners in developing the channel for SaaS/software on demand. That includes traditional master agents, independent agents, VARs, phone vendors, ISVs, telecom carriers/resellers/ILECs, and TEM model companies.

“Agents will sell products that are relatively easy to present and provision, and they will focus on products that are lucrative,” noted Turpin. “That is always the acid test. What quickly becomes obvious is that, other than VARs who sell Microsoft products now, there is a lack of familiarity with selling such technology. A lack of knowledge about the technical details of the product proves to be an insurmountable barrier for getting most agents to incorporate these services into their business model; the vendor simply must find a way to help the agent to overcome this situation.

“Even for VARs selling technology solutions, selling such products in a hosted environment is different enough that it requires assistance from the vendor,” he continued.

“Channel partners need to find solutions to sell where the vendor will provide them with the necessary sales support to offset their lack of knowledge in selling software solutions,” Turpin concluded. “In addition, those selling software solutions who want to engage what is primarily a telecom focused sales channel must provide the support necessary to help the agents or their programs will not be adopted by the channel.”

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