Five Ways to Prepare for the Vegas Channel Show

Are You Ready For Vegas?

Well, it’s that time of year again…we are only two weeks away from the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. What you may not realize is that most of your success at the show will depend on your preparation, so we’re passing along some tips to make sure you’re prepared. These events can get pricey, so make sure you squeeze out every last drop of opportunity!

1. Set Some Goals – Decide why you are attending the show and what your desired outcomes, or as Stephen R. Covey said, "Begin with the end in mind." You may have three or four goals in mind, but make sure they are clear. This will help you greatly in planning your time at the show.

2. Do Your Homework – Rather than strolling the expo floor aimlessly, hoping to run into people you want to see, do your research and schedule as many appointments ahead of time as possible. Make sure to focus in on the goals you set above. You can access the list of exhibitors here: http://www.channelpartnersconference.com/2013/vegas/exhibitors.html

3. Prepare Your Team – Make sure you and your team are all on the same page in terms of strategy and logistics of the show. If you have a lot of people attending, it’s a good idea to have one person designated to manage travel arrangements and schedules. Make sure everyone has plenty of business cards and the appropriate attire.

4. Take Care of Yourself – Nothing is worse than feeling under the weather at a fast-paced event like the Channel Show, so take steps to ensure you’re healthy and have lots of energy. Start now, making sure you’re eating well, getting lots of rest, and avoiding sick people. And don’t forget your Airborne!

5. Plan Your Follow Up – Have you ever attending an event only to return and stare blankly at a large stack of business cards? Don’t let this be you. Instead, plan now for how you will categorize the people you meet, and how you will follow up with each category. Will you send an email, make a phone call, connect on LinkedIn? These are all things you can decide now so your plan is in place when you return. 

By following these simple steps, you can make the most of any trade show or event you attend. We can’t wait to see you in Vegas!
 

 

“We Can Do That Too!” …And Other Dangerous Statements for VARs

Four years ago I started Terrapin Solutions.  It was a big idea with lots of promise.  But as any young venture, we had our growing pains…had to find our way, had to carve out our niche, had to create our own unique brand.  Looking back, we made a lot of mistakes.  One of the biggest was expanding our scope before we were ready. 

"I understand you do this, but can you also do that?"  
 
"Uh…sure!"
 
That conversation seemed to happen a lot.  We actually took pride in our ability to be flexible and opportunistic.  But looking back, we can see how that took us off course, away from our core business, away from what we were really good at, what we were really strong around, and into areas we didn’t fully understand, didn’t have experience in, areas we couldn’t confidently and consistently deliver with excellence.  And because of that, everything suffered.
 
Fortunately, we figured it out early enough to make the appropriate course correction that enabled us to build a really successful cloud services practice.
 
I’m reminded of our story because I’m seeing it play out with increasing frequency amongst IT Solution Providers that I talk with every day.  So many that have built successful businesses around selling and supporting boxes are now struggling with the shift to carrier & cloud services.  They’re finding that stating "we can do that too" is woefully insufficient.  They desperately want to make the shift, but they are ill-equipped to do so.  They don’t have the capital, the staff, the expertise, or the runway.  Doing so in spite of those challenges results in more pain than profit.
 
So the real question is, how does a business transform itself without dying from the effort?  More specifically, how does a IT Solution Provider make the pivot to carrier & cloud services without running out of runway?
 
To successfully make the pivot, you must have three things.
  1. The expertise - you must truly understand carrier & cloud services…how they’re priced, sold, ordered, supported, etc.  Its a very different world than hardware.
  2. Dedicated resources – expecting your existing hardware sales people to begin selling carrier & cloud services in volume is a failed model.  You must have dedicated sales people who wake up every day looking to put food on the table by selling nothing but carrier & carrier services.
  3. Sufficient Capital – residual revenue can be compelling long term, but it takes a serious runway to get there.  Plan on 18+ months to get to a monthly run-rate that is meaningful.
So do these requirements kill this idea for many IT Solution Providers?  Does this mean the pivot is only possible for the biggest, well-resourced VARs?  Perhaps.
 
Or perhaps partnering with the right outside resource is the best answer.  We at Intelisys recently launched our Channel Alignment Program.  Very simply, it aligns VARs with cloud & carrier services sales professionals.  It enables a VAR to begin making the pivot immediately, without investing any cash and without redirecting resources from their core business.
 
Could this be the answer for many who are struggling to make this shift?  I’d love your feedback.

How the Guy Behind me Coughing Will Drive More Video Adoption

I hear there’s a flu epidemic.  No, I didn’t get the shot.  Perhaps i’m poorly informed, but i could never reconcile why its a good idea to inject yourself with the flu so you don’t get the flu.  Do they take that same measure for syphilis?  I’m not rolling that dice.
 
So back to the epidemic.  I’m currently at 35,000 feet flying to sunny Cabo and the guy right behind me keeps coughing…incessantly, like water dripping from a pipe, every 15 seconds or so.  And I can’t stop thinking that i’ve got flu all over the back of my head.  Good times.
 
I’m a frequent traveler.  I’ll log around 100k actual flight miles, all domestic this year.  Mostly I’m flying to see partners and customers or speaking to groups.  All of it is done on packed airplanes sharing air with the infected and afflicted.  Is it me, or has it gotten worse?  Planes are more crowded.  Bugs are more common.  I’m crammed into a petrie dish with the rest of them.
 
So I ask myself, could there be a better way?  I love to see people, but do I need to touch people?  Could I have the same meaningful conversations and interactions through video?  If I could read their expressions and see their reactions and they could see mine, do I really need to shake their hand or pat them on the shoulder…and so many people are huggers now….I’m a hugger…what am i thinking?!
 
Germs aside, this video thing could really change a lot for me.  If it means less flying, it could mean a lot of great stuff.   More time with the family?  Eating better?  Exercising more?  More meetings in a day? Getting more done?  And perhaps less sick days?
 
I’m not quite ready to give up the beaches of sunny Cabo to avoid the cougher behind me, but if it means fewer trips to O’hare in February or Dulles in August…I say bring it on!
 

 

The Tale of Two Companies – The Cloud and What Could Have Been

 

"To our sales partners and, ultimately, our mutual end customers.  Below is a blog written by one of the Cloud Sales engineers at Intelisys, Ray Nelson  I find it to be a compelling story and proof of how the cloud can solve real world problems."

–Andrew Pryfogle

Over the last couple of weeks I heard about, as well as felt, the pain of Hurricane Sandy.  My name is Ray Nelson and I live in the great state of New Jersey.  Sandy has been a trying experience for all of us in the New York metropolitan area.  We have suffered through long power outages, loss of cable and internet, all the way to state-wide gas shortages.  If you were lucky, that is all that you had to deal with.  Living in New Jersey, I always joked with my California peers, that at least I wouldn’t be washed away into the ocean when that great earthquake hit.  Little did I know that instead, the ocean and wind would destroy so many of my fellow New Jerseyans’ homes and property.  My heart goes out to all the people who have suffered.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.“

As one of the cloud sales engineers at Intelisys I have the wonderful job of designing and recommending solutions that can help my customers save money, work more efficiently or work smarter.  I am proud to say that the cloud solutions that I have been designing have saved my customers much heartache during these trying times.  I would like to take a moment to describe how the cloud solutions engineered by Intelisys and our cloud providers have allowed our customers to function more efficiently and weather the “unpredictables.”

First, I would like to paint the picture of an ordinary New Jersey company that has not yet moved to the cloud.  Unfortunately, this is a real company who I have worked with for several years, but struggled to make the shift to the cloud.  We’ll call them XYZ Corp.  XYZ Corp has 15+ servers all running in their corporate data center.  These servers run their corporate email system, web server, database server, CRM application and their line of business applications.  Also in that data center is a very robust PBX phone system, traditional PBX features as well as full call center capabilities.  XYZ Corp even thought ahead and built a redundant data center 20 miles away in their New York City location.  In it they have virtualized servers, which are cold backups of their main data center.  Their corporate PBX has a survivable processor to take over if the main site fails.  They even thought ahead to have a VPN concentrator at their main site if the users could not make it in to work.  Remote users could use hard VPN phones, softphones and their laptops to work remotely.

This plan sounded like a rock-solid plan, but unfortunately it was not.  No one planned on an outage that would simultaneously take power away from both locations, and neither facility being online.  Unfortunately the thought that a hurricane of such magnitude that would knock out gas supplies rendering their backup generators useless was unheard of.   For close to a week, XYZ Corp was without any corporate IT system.  Their communications system was rendered useless due to the lack of power as well as the communications lines being down to their employees and corporate offices.  They could not receive any email because their corporate email system was at their main location.  If only we could have moved them to the cloud quicker.

Now I would like to paint a picture of what could have been.  I know this to be true, because I received several calls from other companies thanking me for their cloud success.  The story goes like this. Months before any idea that a hurricane was about to hit New Jersey, XYZ Corp finally decided to move to the cloud.  Using one of Intelisys Cloud providers they moved most of their 15+ servers to the cloud.  Some of the servers remained on location for various purposes such as print sharing and other localized services.  Servers that were moved to the cloud were either fully virtualized or turned into managed physical servers.  XYZ Corp deployed Virtualized Desktop to their end users that required minimal bandwidth to operate.  The corporate PBX was retired and replaced with a highly redundant Hosted Voice System and Call Center Solution.  

When Hurricane Sandy hit, all offices were knocked out of power.  They no longer needed their backup generators because most users could work from their homes using their Virtualized Desktops.  Those users who did not have cable or land-line internet services could easily connect using 3G/4G networks and wirelessly connect to their Virtual Desktops.   Fortunately, the data center that Intelisys used for the server designed was not in the New York metropolitan area so they continued to operate without any issues.  The hosted voice provider that Intelisys recommended was geographically dispersed as well as architected with an active-active design.  Even though very few people had their hard-phones on them, users still received calls on their cell phones.  Those lucky users who had home phone lines that were functional could have their calls redirected to that number.   Email was fully functional since it was hosted offsite with a hosted exchange provider

Although XYZ Corp would not have been running at 100%, they still would have been an active company who could respond to their partners and customers’ needs.  

I do not think that the cloud can solve everyone’s problems.  It is not the cure-all for every technological issue, but it sure did help several of my customers over the last few weeks.  I am not sure what will happen with XYZ Corp.  I hope ultimately everything turns out OK for them.  I hope for the opportunity to review their systems again and make the shift to the cloud so that they will not have to suffer like that again.

By the way, I just got another weather advisory.  We’re about to get hit with another big storm…with winds gusting to 58 MPH…nothing like getting punched while you’re already on the mat.  Just another timely reminder of the risk of putting off that move to the cloud.  Stay safe everyone.

 

A Quality Network Will Make Cloud Strategies Rain Success

 The Cloud is spreading across all industries at a torrid pace; offering cost-cutting abilities and the flexibility needed to help companies of all shapes and sizes enhance their businesses. According to analyst firm IDC, cloud spending will top the $36 billion mark in 2012 at a growth rate that is four times the overall IT industry average. As cloud adoption continues to proliferate, it has become clear that there is no “one-size-fits-all” model to deliver the dynamic applications that businesses crave. 


Ultimately, even the most ambitious and innovative cloud strategies rely on one simple element to ensure success – the corporate network. A company’s network is its connection to the cloud. Rigid business networks can’t conform to the ever-changing needs of cloud computing and cloud-based applications. A cloud-optimized network, however, is flexible and agile to compliment a company’s cloud strategy.

The ideal network is QoS-enabled, reducing or eliminating jitter and latency for high-demand business applications. Visibility and control are also important characteristics, allowing administrators the ability to easily increase bandwidth and services in real-time, while constantly analyzing network performance and issues. A cloud-enabled network gives companies the flexibility to configure their cloud strategies in a way that best meets their business needs, letting those businesses pursue the primary cloud models used today, including: 

Public Cloud
The “public” cloud is familiar to most businesses, where applications, information and computing power are accessed via the Internet. It utilizes third-party resources deployed in a multi-tenant environment to provide access to services on-demand. 

Application service providers use public clouds to deliver applications through cost-effective pricing, including subscription-based or pay-as-you go models. The primary concerns of the public cloud, though, are security, latency, jitter and other performance issues.

Private Cloud
“Private” cloud solutions have been deployed by many enterprises to manage storage and computing requirements. With a private cloud, businesses purchase, configure and maintain physical servers. To avoid significant capital expenses, some companies rent collocated space to share the expense of power and cooling, while still utilizing their own equipment. 

While very secure and customized, the disadvantages of a private cloud strategy include high infrastructure, maintenance and utility costs, as well as real estate and staffing expenses.

Virtual Private Cloud
A “virtual private” cloud can connect businesses to a public cloud provider through a secure, QoS-enabled network that is inaccessible to outside parties. This strategy eliminates most concerns associated with a public cloud approach while maintaining enhanced flexibility.

With a virtual private cloud, all endpoints, including the data center, reside within a single enterprise with access granted only to IT personnel. This approach provides multi-tenet capabilities with security and agility.

Hybrid Cloud
The latest trend among forward-thinking organizations is the exploration of “hybrid” cloud strategies. This approach incorporates public, private and virtual private cloud options to correspond with a variety of needs and business applications.

It is an attractive model for many companies because a hybrid strategy provides the company with the flexibility to match specific security and performance requirements with the corresponding benefits of a particular cloud option. 

MASERGY helps companies address their cloud strategies by providing a seamless global network infrastructure with guaranteed application performance.  MASERGY believes that a customized, QoS-enabled global network coupled with embedded network monitoring and Internet management, efficient engineering and proactive customer support can produce the results that businesses seek from the cloud and cloud-based applications.

As companies continue to define and refine their cloud strategies, the quality and agility of their networks will determine if those projects ultimately succeed. So don’t get caught off guard. Ensure that your network can make your cloud strategies rain profits.

The following was written by Tim Naramore, Chief Technology Officer, MASERGY.

 

Intelisys Club TPC – Frequently Asked Questions

Club TPC is just one of the dozens of benefits that telecom agents take advantage of when they work with the Intelisys family.  Running a small business is hard.  Running a super-achieving small business is even harder.

So at Intelisys, we believe in rewarding our over-achieving sales partners in the belief that it helps to motivate them to achieve more.

 At the same time, it’s our way of saying, "Congratulations" and "Thank You".

Some aspects of the program can be confusing to some however.  We’ve answered three of the most common misconceptions about the TPC Program below:

Questions #1: Where are you getting Sales Partner Revenue numbers from?  The numbers I’m getting in my email don’t match my actual numbers.

Answer:  We use the AVERAGE of sales partner revenue numbers over a three month period to generate an MBR, not single month revenues.  If you billed $100k in month 1, $200k in month 2, and $300k in month 3, your Monthly Billing Revenue (MBR) would be (100+200+300)/3=$200k

Question #2:  What is the difference between the Club TPC TRIP and the Club TPC BENEFITS.

Answer:  Club TPC MEMBERSHIP gets you assistance with hotel and airfare to Channel Connect and free access to the Intelisys mentorship resources.

The level of your Channel Connect hotel and airfare assistance is dependent on your TPC membership level.  The free mentorship means that Club TPC members get to leverage the knowledge of hundreds of years of experience in the channel and in business, through personal mentoring by some of the best minds in the industry in seven different business categories.  In addition, they get added support services on top of what non-club TPC members receive.

The Club TPC TRIP is open to all sales partners, including non-Club TPC members.  Those who qualify for the Club TPC TRIP get airfare, hotel and other expenses paid for, at an exotic vacation destination in pre-determined places throughout the world.

Question #3:  Do all Club TPC Members Qualify for the Travel Assistance to Channel Connect?

All Silver, Gold and Platinum member qualify automatically.   Bronze

members must continuously increase their MBR each year, to the measure of 10% per year.

So if the bronze member’s MBR in 2011 was $100k, to qualify for the Channel Connect airfare assistance, the minimum 3 month MBR for 2012 will be $110K ($100k x 110%).

If you have any questions about Club TPC, don’t hesitate to call

800.615.8330 for more information.

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions for Telecom Sales Agents

promises that telecom agents make in the new years

Approaching the end of one year and the beginning of the next, it’s common for us to think about our New Year’s resolutions or goals. We often have a renewed sense of energy and purpose with the beginning of something new, and that energy is easily channeled into our goal setting.

According to About.com, the top four New Year’s resolutions are:

  1. Increase exercise
  2. Be more conscientious about work or school
  3. Develop better eating habits
  4. Stop smoking, drinking, or using drugs (including caffeine)

What’s interesting about this list is it focuses almost entirely on our physical selves with no mention of our “other” selves: mental, emotional, or spiritual. The goals in this list don’t involve your heart or passion – but rather seem quite restrictive and well, boring.

Perhaps that’s why resolutions have a 97% failure rate after 30 days. So perhaps it’s time for a new approach to goal-setting.  The late Steve Jobs once said,  “We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life.”

With that in mind, we encourage you to consider carefully your goals for 2012. Yes, the practical goals have their place too, but why not make 2012 a year for taking risks, expanding outside of your comfort zone, and doing what makes you feel the most alive?

As for us at Intelisys, our passion is and will continue to be providing the world’s best support for the world’s best Partners – YOU! Thank you for continuing to provide us the opportunity to do so.

Whatever your goals for 2012, here’s to wishing you health, happiness and success. Happy New Year!

P.S. We’d love to hear about the goals you’re setting. Please share with us on our blog (we can insert a link here).

 

 

Telecom Sales Agents: Do you have “Unfinished Business”?

telecom agents finish

An old proverb says, “Every end is a new beginning.”  As 2011 draws to a close, it’s a great time to reflect on the last 12 months and take care of any “unfinished business” you may have so you can enter 2012 with a clean slate and renewed energy.

What is unfinished business? It’s anything, business or personal, that nags at you or gets put on your “should do” list. On the business side, it could be that meeting with your accountant or those updates to your website. On the personal side, perhaps you still need to write those thank you cards or call your old college roommate.

Whatever it is, unfinished business slows us down and makes us less productive because it clutters our minds and can often produce worry, guilt or both. By taking care of these things by the end of the year, you will begin 2012 with a clear conscience and increased confidence, since accomplishing even the smallest of tasks is a great boost for the ego.

As a matter of unfinished business for Intelisys, we want to express to you yet again how much we appreciate you and your hard work. We are honored to serve you, and look forward to an amazing 2012 in partnership with you.

We wish you and your families a very Happy Holidays! 

Q&A: Intelisys’ Jay Bradley On The Changing Landscape For Telecom VARs

The following is an interview performed by CRN.com’s Brittany Danielson with Intelisys’s Jay Bradley on the changing landscape for Telecom VAR’s.  The original interview can be read here:  Telecom Channel VAR Landscape

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the convergence of VARs, carriers and the telco channel, but perhaps those best positioned to spot the trend are the master agents, who sit on the front lines of the channel game, facilitating partnerships between service and solution providers.

Intelisys Communications is a leading master agency, with relationships with 45 telecom service providers and a projected $200 million in net billed revenue and gross commissions of $37.5 million in 2011. At Intelisys’ annual Channel Connect conference, held last week in San Francisco, the topic of channel convergence loomed large.
CRN Associate Editor Brittany Danielson got on the horn with Jay Bradley, Intelisys’ president of telecom services, prior to last week’s event to talk about changing channel landscapes, why data VARs are trying their hand at selling network services, and how more VARs can get in on all the action in the carrier world.
Here’s an excerpt of that conversation.
What’s enticing traditional data and equipment VARs to come over to the telecom space and begin selling network services? And why is it happening now?
It’s the opportunity first and foremost. The opportunity has always been there, it’s just a matter of focus. And when times are good in IT, their business model is based more on turning over equipment and having those upfront commissions and those upfront sales and immediate numbers, whereas on the services side it’s always taken a little bit longer to really move the needle for a lot of those companies.
But over the last several years I certainly think that the recession repointed some of that segment back to services revenue as a way to protect themselves when times are a little bit more lean on the IT side. And I think that the move toward cloud is part of the reason we’re seeing additional growth, because a lot of those traditional IT hardware sales are now going to be wrapped up in cloud solutions. And I also think that it’s the services channel’s visibility.
I think that over the last five years and including the hard times and the recession, companies like Intelisys have been doing really well, and really didn’t skip much of a beat. And so another important part has been the visibility of that success to a whole a new segment of potential distributors.
How much growth is Intelisys seeing from the IT VAR community?
Across the board we’re doing well into to double digit growth as a business. We’re seeing double digit sales and revenue growth from the traditional agents, data VARs, interconnects, system integrators as a group, which is stronger than it’s been in the past. In terms of a number relative to the overall partner community, I would say it’s an additional 5 percent a year that we’re seeing from just the traditional IT VAR segment. Intelisys is very bullish on this segment. We understand their business models, we understand how to serve them, because it is different. And how we serve and incubate a data VAR is different than how we serve someone who is completely focused on network services.
How has that number of VARS adopting carrier services changed compared with five years ago, and do you see this convergence continuing to pick up speed?
There have always been some that made the commitment early, but I would say that five years ago we were seeing maybe a couple of points of growth, so it’s probably more than doubled in the past five years coming from that segment. And we expect to double the growth over the next five years. The indirect channel on the services side is going through somewhat of a renaissance in terms of the quality of partners and distributors that we have in our community. We’re seeing really, really smart folks coming out of the IT world, coming out of carrier direct sales that are very attracted to what’s happening in the channel world.
Do you see this convergence going both ways?
What I see and what I hope is that we’re moving our partners from selling circuits to selling solutions, and in some cases that is going to require an equipment component. But more often than not the equipment can be handled by the supplier, meaning the carrier. So I don’t see a lot of traditional agents, master agents and telecom service providers moving heavily into the data VAR space, but I do see them selling more at a solutions level, which may involve equipment that is bundled with the services.
What are some inherent challenges that VARs face when adopting network services?
The challenges depend on the data VAR and their size and the resources that they have to invest in network services.
Certainly the product knowledge is a challenge at first, but product knowledge is always one of those things that you can get past. If it’s a small data VAR, the biggest challenge may be financial in that you really need to stick with it for a while in order to start seeing some significant revenue, just based on the residual method of payment. That is commonly one of the tougher challenges for a VAR.
In our world you make a big sale, it takes time to provision, it takes time to install, it takes time to bill out, it takes time for commissions to be produced and paid. The time from the initial sale to payment may be six months or longer. But at Intelisys we’ve done some things to make that a little bit easier.
So for those folks that want to get into to services but know that they won’t start being paid until they’re installed, we’ve put an advanced commissions program into the marketplace where we’ll fund those commissions to partners so they don’t have to wait six months to start getting paid. And that’s gotten a lot of traction both with our traditional partners and data VARs and others.
What are some ways VARs can get started selling carrier services?
They have a couple ways to go about it. They can go out and acquire a network services arm, a smaller network services agency that is in their marketplace that wants to become a part of a bigger entity. That’s one way to do it.
A second way to do it is to hire a staff that is completely focused on network services.
Another way to do it is to partner with one of our existing agents. Our sales partners in our community today on a regular basis partner with data VARs. In the past it’s been more of a referral relationship, but we’re seeing a shift more toward those folks who used to have a referral relationship within our community of agents actually coming in and selling under those agents to move the needle and get the ball rolling for them.
What are some critical steps to building a successful network services business?
From my experience it’s committing at least one full-time resource to the effort, someone who does have experience in network services. That’s my number one predictor of success.
Secondly I think you need to build out your runway to a realistic timeframe. Anything under two-to-three years in terms of the effort and the resources is not going to give you a fair shake in terms of having success. It’s really about managing expectations about the sales and commissions you need to build over the first six, 12, 18 months, and also what your network services revenue will look like in three-to-five years. If you can plan on those horizons, you have a great chance for success, because those are the horizons you need to be looking at to set the proper expectations.
Another is to choose your suppliers wisely. What we tell both the data VAR segment and agents and sales partners is to really think through which suppliers are strongest in the market, which ones are committed to the indirect channel, who really wants my business? And Intelisys offers 45 different suppliers in our portfolio and you just can’t know the inner working of more than four or five. So really specifically look at your market geographically and from a customer-based perspective in terms of their usage and the kind of products and services they need. Then focus your energies on those suppliers that can have the greatest impact.
My advice overall to data VARs rethinking network services or looking at the space if they haven’t already is to think big. There are companies of size now as master agents and distributors and the money is big. It’s real. Put the resources into it to experience some early, midterm and long-term success, because the opportunity is there.
Are network services becoming a do-or-die proposition for VARs?
I don’t necessarily see it as that black and white. What I do see is that both the traditional network services channel partner and the data VARs are changing.