The most overlooked way to increase your bottom line recurring commission is to sell more managed services, such as email hosting, which can drive both wireless activations and wireline revenue. Gone are the days of banking on steady income from now commoditized broadband services. Also gone are the carrier-owned hosting facilities that proliferated during the heyday of the dot-com era. Most carriers sold or closed their facilities during the dot-bomb fallout but a few independent providers have stepped into the gap to provide hosting, colocation and applications management services. As wireless dealers, you can partner with these companies to add more value to your portfolio and more revenue in your pocket.
Despite a lot less press about hosting since the late 1990s, demand for hosting has not gone away and is indeed growing with the introduction of CRM, wireless e-mail and custom corporate applications that need to be hosted to deliver full functionality to users and their mobile workforces.
Hosting can be defined as outsourcing management of infrastructure, including equipment such as servers, routers, firewalls and storage area networks, in an environmentally stable and secure location outside the enterprise. Hosting also can describe outsourced applications management. This second variety can be as simple as hosting for Microsoft Exchange or wireless e-mail applications like Motorolas Good Messaging Server, RIMs BlackBerry Enterprise Server or Windows Mobility Server.
One example of a wireless e-mail application is from Good Technology Group. Shown here on a Motorola Q.
For wireless dealers, hosted e-mail is low-hanging fruit. Most IT departments do not want to manage e-mail. Its expensive, runof- the-mill and it requires a tremendous amount of time and labor resources to manage effectively. Most customers will be all too happy to outsource e-mail management to you, their trusted telecom consultant, and your hosting partner of choice. This is particularly true after they learn you can help save them at least $30,000 for just 30 seats of hosted BlackBerry service in contrast to purchasing an Exchange server, license and maintaining the personnel needed to administer the application.
NaviSite Inc., for one, is a hosting company that provides wireless e-mail hosting on a per-device basis across multiple platforms such as the Research In Motion, Palm and Microsoft operating systems. NaviSite has dedicated resources to help channel partners capitalize on additional telecom revenue. Other hosting providers, such as Rackspace Ltd., cater directly to SMBs, but also have channel programs offering the ability to sell hosting, including wireless e-mail. A hosted e-mail application will enable real-time two-way over-the-air sync for e-mail folders, contacts, calendar, notes, tasks.
Typically, the fees for hosting wireless e-mail range from $10 to $20 per device. In contrast, hosted CRM applications are closer to $125 per seat. Commissions vary as a percentage of monthly recurring revenue. NaviSite, for example, pays 10 percent to 15 percent residuals.
Beyond the direct compensation, you need to look at the total revenue stream. Let me explain: A sales partner can earn a perseat commission on Microsoft Exchange plus the commission on selling the bandwidth at the hosting facility plus the cost of hosting BlackBerry or Goodlink middleware on a wireless device plus the wireless activation itself.
For the channel partner who is looking to differentiate himself or herself in the marketplace, selling hosting services can drive higher bandwidth sales on the wireline side and more activations on the wireless side. Better yet, these services will reduce the likelihood of customer churn due the complexity of moving these types of services.
A channel partner also can leverage an existing customer base of clients by selling application add-ons to its evergrowing base of subscribers.
A good place to start would be to link up with one of the many Microsoft CRM VARs that are looking to place their Microsoft Dynamics CRM application on top of wireless devices, says AJ Brokken, director of strategic alliances at NaviSite. Many of these VARs do not supply the connectivity or activation component and would be an excellent choice for partnering opportunities.
Additionally, you can overcome your lack of familiarity around these products by looking to the hosting company or VAR for knowledge transfer. They often are willing to train their channel partners on their products and services. Better yet, they have an entire marketing department to back up your efforts.
You can help your customer realize the full potential of its applications at every level of its organization by providing it with a full suite of solutions ranging from hosting to applications development and management to delivering the best options on connectivity both wireline and wireless.
Natasha Royer Coons is the founder and managing director of TeraNova Consulting Group, a new firm providing fully managed mobility solutions and wireless WAN products, services and expertise to channel partners nationwide.
She brings a decade of experience as a former Solutions Consultant and SC manager advising partners on wireless and wireline products for Sprint. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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