SaaS provider XCast Labs Inc. officially launched its revamped partner program on Oct. 1, changing its distribution focus to rely more on agents (master and independent), VARs and interconnects. To reach that goal, the Los Angeles-based company whose products include hosted VoIP and SIP trunking hired a long-time channel insider to run its sales chain and put together the necessary behind-the-scenes functions to support partners. The fourth quarter will serve as the beta period for improvements as XCast Labs moves into 2012, ready to compete for IP services market share through the channel.
Guiding those efforts is Michael Henderson as vice president of indirect channels for XCast Labs. Henderson has worked in the telecom industry since 1998. His credits include sales positions at a number of carriers, from PointOne and CarrierTel to GlobalTouch Telecom and GLOBALINX. For a time, he also ran his own agency, Global Consensus LLC, until the XCast opportunity came along.
For the past several months, Henderson has made recommendations to XCast management about how to construct and operate a successful channel; that work has included getting the buy-in of everyone inside XCast, helping them to understand the importance of channel contributions. Timing was essential because wholesale distribution was reaching a saturation point. XCast saw that its success was best ensured by agents, VARs and interconnects; the company does not use a direct sales force. The channel is our bread and butter right now,” said Henderson. The result is a sharp focus on partners, with a channel program ready for prime time.
For partners, theres a host of support, starting with training. XCast Labs will bring information about industry trends, and new and existing products, to partners facilities, or meet with them at shows or conduct webinars whatever their preference. We want agents well-schooled in our products,” Henderson said.
Henderson works with a team that offers pre- and post-sales assistance. The staff help quote and sell services, if requested, and they oversee provisioning and installation. That is especially vital for multilocation, multiproduct deals, although XCast also targets SOHO and SMB clients. XCast also hosts an online portal that lets agents enter orders, track customer behavior and run commission reports. The company further offers around-the-clock access and trouble ticketing for end-users.
At press time, the company was restructuring its residual commissions and could not provide details. Still, Henderson said agents can earn percentages as high as 24 and 25 percent. There are variables that go into those amounts, such as how much support a partner takes on, which products are sold and whether XCast needed to adjust pricing to earn the customers business something it can do because it owns its infrastructure and has patented its own technology.
Agents can offer very aggressive rates and be compensated in a fair manner,” said Henderson. Were not always going to be the cheapest but were going be in the fight with just about anyone out there.”
To help prove that point, XCast has rolled out a bonus program for the fourth quarter, offering commission equivalent to the first months MRC on new sales. Managers will evaluate the SPIFF program at the end of the year and continue it if they decide its working well or make changes if its not.
XCast further will gauge how much it should expand its channel team. For now, the company doesnt need to have channel managers in individual markets, but Henderson expects that to change as sales grow. In time, regional management will end up being part of the company,” he said.