Ideacom Network Wants a Level Playing Field for Resellers

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2016 IDEACOM CONFERENCE — Ideacom Network’s 17th annual conference, in Chandler, Arizona, has attracted more than 65 member companies, including independent telecom/IT resellers, VARs and network integrators.

Ideacom's Rich GraltoThe national voice and data reseller organization aims to provide a level playing field for its members by negotiating five-year, preferred-pricing arrangements with voice and data-network providers. This year’s conference, titled “Hot Spot … Hot IDeAS,” included an exhibit hall with 45 vendor partners.

Ideacom now has more than 100 members nationally, and attendance at this year’s conference is 15 percent higher than the previous conference.

Rich Gralto, Ideacom’s president, tells Channel Partners his organization helps resellers that are smaller and therefore couldn’t negotiate high-volume discount pricing on a non-quota situation.

“Traditionally in the past, especially with CP manufacturers, it was ‘OK, we’ll give you a 25 percent discount this quarter if you reach $50,000,’” he said. “’Well, you didn’t reach $50,000, instead you reached $35,000, so next quarter you’re going to get a 20 percent discount.’ You can see how difficult that is when you have open proposals out there with venues and all of a sudden you’re getting a price increase before that proposal closes.”{ad}

Fluctuation of pricing makes it difficult for resellers to grow their businesses, Gralto said.

“We also provide our members education services on best practices,” he said. “For instance, we provide a best practice on how to write a sales proposal. That’s a very basic element, but because of the collection of members we have, we’ve developed these best practices in a collection module. We’ve taken the best input from all of these members, combined it and developed a template.”

One of the most useful parts of the conference is the Mining Our Diamonds session, which includes peer-to-peer networking aimed at problem solving and generating new opportunities, Gralto said.

Ron Upchurch, CEO of Greenwood, Mississippi,-based Upchurch Telecom, has been an Ideacom member for five years. Picking up “one little idea” is usually the big thing every year, he said.

“Every year you’ve got to be innovative and you’ve got to be creative, and this group does that, that’s their focus,” he said. “We may even be competitors, but we still share information, and that leads to growing everybody’s business.”

ConnectWise was among the vendors exhibiting at the conference. Jason Samples, its senior solutions strategist, said his company has a long-term relationship with Ideacom and conducts business with its members.

“We’ve been an Ideacom partner for three years and it’s a very tight group, a great group of folks to work with, very communications focused,” he said. “And for ConnectWise, we fit very well for the industry and we also lead on the data side of the house with markets merging and stuff, so it’s a great fit for both Ideacom and ConnectWise.”

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