Jola Cloud Solutions' Blog

Want to transition from dealer to reseller?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 20-Aug-2018 14:47:51

IT and Telecoms companies can improve ARPU by supplying new products to loyal customers. Research shows that SMEs prefer to buy from existing suppliers, they trust. Until there is sufficient demand to justify investment in support, billing and marketing, the supplier will often partner with a specialist on an introduction and commission basis. Moving from a dealer to a reseller model provides better control and improved margins, however there are challenges along the way.

Forecasts, targets and contract terms

What are the rules? Are there any set targets? Read the partner agreement before you sign and ask to speak to a partner that has made the transition to ensure you are comfortable with the terms and conditions.

Billing

Billing can be problematic for IT companies that want to start reselling fixed, mobile and hosted telephony products. Alongside monthly service charges they will need to process monthly CDRs (Call Data Records), rating each call type and producing itemised bills and variable invoices. It is difficult and risky to try and adapt existing in-house billing systems and purchasing and managing specialist billing software is not always feasible.

There are some good third-party billing products available, however the set-up fees, monthly standing charge and billing percentages mean the reseller often has to take several orders before the margin covers the monthly cost of billing. Some of the more sophisticated suppliers offer white-label billing for their products and will even bill products and services the reseller buys from other suppliers. This can be a cheaper and less risky alternative.

Support

Until you reach a critical mass of customers it is not worth recruiting and training additional support staff. For business-critical products that have 24/7 SLAs, technical support is a particular challenge. There are some very good bureau services available however these come with set-up charges and minimum spends. Often, they will also charge for calls by the minute and per email on tickets. Incidents happen with any technology and a major outage could cost thousands of pounds. If the supplier of the products offers a white label technical support service, then this is the best solution until you can justify hiring your own team. Only the best suppliers will stand by their products by offering a white label technical support product on a fixed-cost basis. They will also help you to train your own support staff when the time is right.

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Topics: Jola Cloud Solutions Ltd, Dealer

How much training do you get from suppliers?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 15-Feb-2017 14:52:29

If you partner with suppliers for services such as internet connectivity or hosted telephony, there is often an on-boarding process. Some suppliers insist on product and platform training before ordering portals are released, others are much more flexible, tailoring programmes and materials to suit you.

But how much training is required?

Often you are familiar with the technology and have used similar portals so little structured training is required.  You have account managers on hand to help you as you pitch, close and provision your first order and your support team is not fazed by the latest variation of services.

You may want more in-depth product training for multiple team members to gain an overview of key features and benefits and target customers. Information about competitive products you are likely to come up against in the market and which USPs to promote. Provisioning teams may require in-depth platform training and support teams may prefer more technical training around common faults and fixes.

What’s the best method of training?

Face to face

Some people prefer on-site practical training, where they can drive processes from start to finish, with guidance from experienced trainers.

Online

Others prefer online training webinars they can book themselves with access to recordings to refresh knowledge or train others as required. Many portals are intuitive with help guides, training videos and support documentation online.

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Topics: Dealer

Three ways suppliers can help improve your conversion rate

Posted by Andrew Dickinson on 27-Jan-2017 11:50:17

Of course pricing is important and suppliers that try to extract too much margin from their resellers will lose out because their channel partners will simply not be able to win business at a reasonable margin. However, having the best margin is no good if you don’t win the business. Here are some ways in which your best suppliers will improve your conversion rate with customers and new prospects. 

1. Software tools and automation

Smaller resellers will rarely want to deal directly with carriers and the networks don’t have the capability to properly support more than a handful of super-resellers, distributors and aggregators. This means bespoke pricing (e.g. leased line quotes), orders and support often have to pass through an intermediary. Suppliers that don’t automate these processes with portals and APIs are injecting significant time and potential for error. When responding to a prospect or customer need, speed and accuracy are often key factors in winning the business

2. Competitive analysis and benchmarking

Resellers often don’t have the resource to constantly monitor the market and their rate of order may not be sufficient to give them enough first hand data to shape their proposition and beat the competition. Suppliers with hundreds of reseller partners should be harvesting feedback from their partner network and conducting their own research. The output should be constant price benchmarking and helpful documents lke competition matrices – comparing pricing and features to your main competitors.

3. Pre-sales technical and sales support

Pure wholesalers cannot afford to supply this resource except for the largest bids. Even then you might be disappointed in the quality of sales skills and technical knowledge available to help you answer queries and handle objections on your way to winning an order. Again because of the relative rate of order, your supplier may be able to justify this resource where you may not. You will be able to trust your best suppliers to respond quickly and accurately and often you will involve them, as part of your team, in conference calls and meetings.

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Topics: Dealer

How well do you know your customers?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 19-Jan-2017 10:35:10

Companies that possess detailed knowledge about their customers and use it to their profitable advantage are successful. Knowing specifically what buyers want, savvy leaders can build and deliver the precise solutions to meet their needs. They have the knowledge to offer the right products at the right price with the appropriate service wrap. They mirror problems and propose appropriate solutions to create positive buying experiences.

In marketing we look to better understand the needs of our customers to tailor offers to meet these requirements. When our partners look to marketing for help, they are often looking for new prospects to sell new services to. By first analysing their existing base, for what sales like to call ‘low hanging fruit’, partners gain a clearer picture of the required price point and service wrap needed to win the business. It is much easier to sell to an existing customer and once the first deal has gone through, confidence and commitment to the new revenue stream grows. With the right reference sites, partners start to build a pipeline of opportunities from their target profile.

By understanding the changing needs of an existing customer base and evolving to meet future requirements, companies not only protect future revenues, but also increase ARPU and have the knowledge they need to win new business.

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Topics: Dealer

The importance of self-service portals

Posted by Andrew Dickinson on 06-Jan-2017 13:04:41

Suppliers will convince themselves that having a member of staff touch every quote and transaction is better for customer service but that may not be how resellers, dealers and end customers see it. Manual processes introduce time and mistakes, plus the cost of them either depresses your margin or makes you uncompetitive.

Also, job satisfaction is low for staff doing repetitive tasks that could be automated. Human intervention is required to manage the exceptions, not standard processes.

The minimum requirement of a portal is to generate quotes and place orders automatically 24/7. The next stage for Jola is always to then get APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) from the networks so that information can be retrieved and orders placed by us automatically. 

From there the self-service portal needs to be developed in two ways; 

1. Software to help Partners differentiate their own proposition.

An example of this is the new breed of dealer portal. An IT or voice supplier can be sat with a customer and as they talk, build an online quote on their laptop or mobile that automatically checks the availability of internet connectivity, sets up new numbers and arranges porting. The system picks up key words and emails a customised, dealer-branded, proposal to the customer. The customer can then review, amend, click to accept the Ts and Cs and the order is placed. Often the first supplier to meet and quote a prospect wins the business and vertically integrated portals facilitate this.

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Topics: Dealer

Three ways suppliers can help you win more business

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 23-Nov-2016 13:14:22

The right business partner can help you to grow your business, as well as fill gaps in your product portfolio. They will work with you to understand the needs of your customers and support your strategic focus moving forwards. In our experience the top three ways suppliers can help you win more business are as follows;

1 – Help you find and qualify prospects

If you don’t have a full-time sales and marketing team you may not be focussed on finding and uncovering opportunities either within your base or from new contacts. Trusted suppliers can help you here. They have the experience and skill sets to work with you and identify existing customers with problems you can help to solve as well as highlighting verticals you may already have a good case study for, which you could use to win new clients. 

2 – Provide you with materials to highlight solutions

Once customer issues have been identified, good suppliers can work with you to create presentations and proposals to explain solutions. Many have white label marketing content you can use, explaining key features and benefits.

3- Provide quoting and ordering tools

Dealers can build co-branded proposals to include internet connectivity, hosted telephony and mobile SIMs, which can be sent directly to customers. Customers can then amend proposals and when they are happy accept orders which automatically trigger the provisioning and ordering process. Both dealers and their customers are kept in the loop at every stage. Resellers, who manage their own billing, also have quoting and ordering tools and white label marketing content for proposals.

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Topics: Dealer

5 things to look for when researching a new supplier

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 03-Nov-2016 17:04:42

As trusted suppliers to the SME market you may be asked to recommend or supply new services. This may result in a search for a new supplier to partner with. What five things should you look for when finding a new supplier?

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Topics: Dealer

Mobile Data SIMs

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 13-Oct-2016 13:40:01

Mobile Data SIMs on 30-day rolling contracts from multiple suppliers are aimed at tablet and laptop users but also work for Machine to Machine (M2M) applications. You can usually choose the amount of data you think you will use on a monthly basis and add bolt-ons as required, connecting your device directly to the internet. 4G is becoming widely available and offers fast, reliable internet connectivity.

Things to think about when choosing a data-only SIM

  • Where will you be using the data-only SIM?
  • Is 3G/4G enabled in this area?
  • How much data do you think you will need each month?
  • What type of SIM card do you need for your device?

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Topics: Dealer

Grow your revenues with the Jola Partner Programme

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 11-Oct-2016 17:36:24

About Jola

Jola is a channel-only supplier of internet connectivity, hosted telephony and mobile solutions to UK SMEs, via a channel of IT and telecommunications partners. Our mission is to sell ‘with’ rather than ‘to’ partners, with the objective of finding the right solutions for their clients. Our vision is to provide as much automation as possible to allow partners to quote, order and manage solutions via easy-to-navigate online portals. We offer monthly training webinars to all partners and experienced 24/7/365 technical support.

Reseller or Dealer?

We operate two partner programmes and you can choose the right one for you and the products you sell. Some of our partners are both reseller and dealer e.g. they may be a dealer for JolaNet where they do not have the 24/7/365 resources to manage 36-month leased line contracts on their own; and reseller for JolaPhone where they can support monthly rolling hosted telephony within working hours.

 

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Topics: Dealer

How new products become part of the portfolio

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 06-Oct-2016 09:27:30

Some business owners in the voice and data channel are on the lookout for complimentary, often recurring revenue streams, to help grow their business. Traditionally these companies have looked for new products high in demand with excellent growth potential and sales and marketing support.

Others, particularly in the data channel take a more reactive approach. Trusted by their customers, IT specialists are led by customer demand and approach new services as solutions to problems. One product does not suit all and the range of solutions available and recommendations from peers become important factors when considering a new supplier.

Typically, a conversation takes place internally to agree to proceed and recommended suppliers are interviewed. Commercials are then agreed with the winning provider and solutions are quoted. If the deal is won, the companies work together to install and support the solution throughout the lifetime of the contract.

Recommendations from trusted sources are essential, as so much is as stake on this first order. If it works, the customer often becomes a reference site and the product becomes part of the portfolio. 

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Topics: Dealer

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