A New Spin on Teleworker ROI

Looking for a new way to justify the value of teleworking solutions that you sell (Avaya One-X, VPN Phones, Juniper VPN Gateways, Sipera UC Sec,  Aruba VBN, Call Accounting, etc)? This recent post on Lifehacker explains how each mile not traveled to work puts $795 per year back in an employee’s pocket. By helping your clients develop a secure, managed and measured teleworking program, you allow them to give their best employees a nice pay boost so they can keep them from fleeing to greener pasteurs. Will employees agree with this math? Probably not.. but you need to have a way to put a number on the value of teleworking to an employee and this is a good start.

Of course, there’s plenty of studies that have debunked the myth that at home workers are less productive — in fact most studies show increased productivity. Often, time not spent commuting is spent working on your behalf. Given the option, most employees do whats in the best interest of their employer.

Happy Selling,



What can Rommel teach us?

Rommel observing the Atlantic Wall near Ouistreham, Normandy, France, late May 1944

What can the Desert Fox teach us about competing as a VAR today? Plenty. Early in 1944, Field Marshall Rommel was asked to inspect the entire French coastline to assess its effectiveness in thwarting the inevitable invasion by allied forces. Contrary to propaganda, Rommel reported the coastal fortifications to be grossly inadequate.
As a result of Rommel’s assessment and instructions, the Germans spent the next several months adding pillboxes, guns, mines, obstacles, and anything else he thought could stop the allies from breaching the Atlantic Wall. Rommel felt certain that the ONLY way to thwart an invasion was to stop the Allies on the beach. If this was not accomplished, defeat could only be postponed, but not avoided.  Thankfully, Rommel’s efforts were too little, too late.
My question to you, the VAR, is where are your beaches and how strong is your wall? If you are selling Unified Communications but not strong in networking or security – can you afford to let your competitors on the data network beach? As they gain ground on your customer, can you really defend the voice infrastructure or are you living on borrowed time as Germany was?
If you are a networking partner who has no voice practice, can you really afford to let your competition transform your client’s business processes through collaboration and unified communications? Once they are on that beach, can you continue to defend your sacred network?
This is the reality we live in. The network and voice platform are becoming increasingly symbiotic.  The VARs that are growing the fastest have strong UC and Networking practices which proves the point. If you can’t excel in both markets, how long can you maintain account control?
Listen to Erwin. Stop your enemies at the beach.

What’s up, HaaS?

No, not Hoss Cartwright from the hit series, Bonanza. (wow, I’m dating myself.. but then again I did that all through High School) No, I’m talking about Hardware as a Service. More and more, my partners are finding prospects and customers that don’t want to own it, don’t want to lease it.. they just want to rent it and make a monthly payment.

I’ve recently started working with partners to put together these types of financing vehicles and surprisingly, they’re not rocket science. Here’s how it works: A finance company owns the gear and collects money from the end user on a monthly basis. They pay you, the VAR, the markup on a monthly basis so you enjoy the ever so sweet recurring revenue so you can make your Lexus payment. Can the finance company handle financing for services and management over and above the hardware and wrap it into one simple payment? Absofreakinlutely.

While leasing takes a lot of the pain out of purchasing , I believe HaaS can take away some of the negatives of leasing. More and more, customers just want results in their business and are looking at creative ways to do more with less.

Need Catalyst to introduce you to a finance partner who can help you go to market with HaaS? I reckon you best call me..

Innovative Cloud Angle

It occurred to me early on in the explosion of cloud services , that there could be  a real synergy for economic development agencies and commercial developers. Both are trying to attract businesses to locate in their communities in the face of cutt-throat competition. By partnering with economic development agencies and developers, you can help them brand their own cloud infrastructure which they can offer to prospective companies that are weighing where to relocate or expand their business.

The value to the corporation is that they acquire technology and services they need as a digestable opex instead of a massive capex. More than that, because the city or developer has greater economies of scale than any one company, the prospective company can get those services cheaper than if they were to acquire these services on their own (at least that’s the spin.)

The best part about this is you are finding opportunities at a much earlier stage in the CFO’s decision process. Instead of the CFO making geographic location and technology decisions independently, he’s exposed to a superior holistic value proposition that nobody else is offering — a value proposition that gives the economic development agency, developer and cloud provider (or private cloud builder) an unfair advantage.

Recently, I had an opportunity to pitch this idea to a friend of mine who is an economic development consultant (he works with cities and communities to attract new businesses) and so far, this has been received extremely well by the clients he’s suggested this to.  One particular opportunity is in the works with a very large developer to attract call centers.

This could go a lot of different directions, but the net/net is the cloud (whether private or public) gives enterprises access to economies of scale they can’t build independently. By cities and developers offering their own cloud services (through a partnership with you), they are able to change the conversation and make other cities and developers irrelevant.  It also gives them the opportunty to target specific clusters (vertical markets) that need the same type of foundations (services) to drive critical mass and referenceable success.

Want to kick this around more? Shoot holes in my strategy?  tom.walker@catalysttelecom.com

How to get a Maserati Quattroporte in 3 months.

Maserati Quattroporte

Okay, I probably should have titled this “Instant Business Strategy, Part II”, but that wouldn’t have been as fun.

In the aforementioned recent post, I described a strategy to sell 80+ IP Offices per month yielding $50K in profit every month. Many of you have asked for the details around this strategy so here you go…

Finding Customers:
  • Identify targets. Sign up for Proven Prospects who data-mines UCC filings on past equipment leases
    • Search keywords: avaya, lucent, partner and select geography in timeframe desired (when lease was executed: for instance 72 to 51 months.)
    • You may be able to negotiate a one time purchase of a comprehensive list..?
    • You get 25 points per month free, but you can get more points by inviting others to join (I’ll get 25 points when YOU sign up)
  • Drive targets to a landing page (like the one I mocked up) http://upgrademypartner.weebly.com/
    • Google Adwords: pay for advertising for high volume, low competition phrases (like attached)
      • I found 50 search terms that are “low competition” (inexpensive) yielding a cumulative 606,000 monthly searches. 1% conversion equals 6,060 people visit your website each month
      • Conservatively, 2% (of the 6,060) order equaling 121 orders per month costing perhaps 50 cents each (~$3,000/month)
      • This doesn’t factor in SEO and organic traffic which would be free and build significantly over time. 
      • I’m not a PPC (pay per click) expert so I can’t guarantee the math and conclusions above, but this is what I came up with.
  • Another strategy: Pay someone  $8/hour to wear an official looking maintenance/phone co looking uniform with your logo and Avaya logo. Have them canvas dense retail and small office areas for small businesses with Partner ACS phone systems (probably ~25% to 40%?) Your person hands an official looking envelope 8×11 envelope to the owner. On the outside the envelope says “Partner ACS End of Life Notice” and “Critical Information Regarding Your Communication System” That person says “It’s very important that the owner get this information”. Have your person “check in” on facebook with a dedicated facebook account so you can track which customers to follow up with (or just have them write it down 🙂 )
Sell the customer:
  • Use the IP Office Partner Migration Tool Kit: https://partner.avaya.com/ptlWeb/smbs/spCP/CS2010618132625355032/C20106183022553020/SN2010618132757191040/SN2010618132757191040
  • If you can convince the client the following are worth ~$50/month, you’ve got a customer. A better way to say it, it’s costing you $X/ month to stay on this Partner ACS system.
    • Voicemail messages routed to email so you only have to check voicemails in one place.
    • SIP trunking – which could drive down their monthly telecom spend to pay for system. Even better: PAETEC, for instance, has a program called “EFS” where they actually fund gear up front meaning your customer could upgrade for free or at least at a greatly reduced price.
    • One-Number access means you don’t miss calls (missed calls = missed business)
    • Free conference bridge (no more paying for hosted bridge)
    • Dial by name directories and visual mail on new 1400 and 9500 series phones
    • Voicemail: 2 additional ports and 13 additional hourse of storage!
    • Built in Autoattendant since messaging is included.
Cost Effective Implementation
  • Send the enduser a postage paid envelope with a blank backup restore card. Have them swap cards and send their existing backup restore card to you so you can pull translations and programming that you will need for the new IP Office. If you have their backup restore card, as well as the number of phones, you should have everything you need. Also, more importantly, the very fact that they send their card to you gets them psychologically invested in the process of upgrading with you. This won’t cost you anything (except postage) since they are sending back their card.
  • Catalyst performs system integration on the IP Office system before it ships. This includes testing for DOA, patching and upgrading. You can then email the programming file which our SI team will load into the IP Office. This costs around $200.
  • Catalyst doesn’t invoice the system until we ship it. We ship blind to the end user for free (you charge the end user for “shipping and handling”= PURE PROFIT!).
  • You arrange for rack+stack install since the IP Office is already programmed. Use a subcontractor from the following network www.onforce.com. Plan on $70 per hour, 2 hours = $140 remember the system is already programmed and these engineers are rated and reviewed by others so you know what you are getting (to some extent)
There you have it! If you want to pick this apart and fine tune it, give me a ring (480-403-8525). Oh, and you might want to put an order in for your Quattroporte, they can take at least 3 months to come in.

The Enterprise Exchange Carrier

If you want to differentiate yourself in the enterprise converged infrastructure space, I recommend adding this to your vernacular. Gosh, you might even try to trademark the term “EXC” or “Enterprise Exchange Carrier”.  I think these three simple words crystallize where technology is pushing your customers. As you know, a Local Exchange Carrier is what we refer to generically as the telephone company or service provider, whether it’s AT&T, Verizon, Windstream, CenturyLink, etc..

The value proposition that I am proposing innovative solution providers adopt is that of an elite solution architect who helps enterprises build a carrier-grade network. Why carrier grade you ask? First of all, you are focusing on the segment of the market that is willing to (and needs to) pay a premium for higher performance and resiliency. But the most important reason for a carrier-grade network is this: Whether your customers like it or not, recent explosive trends in the market and technology landscape are requiring them to assume the role and burden of a carrier.  For instance:

  • Consumer devices like iPhones, Android Phones, Tablets, not to mention laptops multiplying at exponential rates. Employees, Clients and Partners are bringing these devices into the enterprise and not only expect them to work, are more efficient and productive if they do work.
  • Service Providers are already capping, throttling back, or limiting consumer bandwidth consumption. Unlimited data plans are like ponzi schemes waiting to unravel. There just isn’t enough 3G and 4G bandwidth to go around.  This leaves device owners only one place to go, especially when they’re in the enterprise.
  • Enterprises hence become the defacto service provider (aka carrier) and can do so more efficiently via 802.11, BUT they have to be smart and secure in the way they do it.  This requirement penetrates almost the entirety of the network architecture and requires expertise beyond what a typical point-solution VAR offers.
  • Enterprises are needing to provide the lightening fast, ubiquitous  wired and wireless transport with QoS and security to support applications that increase efficiency and productivity. This trend is seeded with consumer apps like Skype and Facetime which users will expect to “just work.”
  • Increasingly, enterprises will face competitive pressure to scale access of the network while at the same time be burdened with necessity for control and security.  Downtime in almost any industry is not an option.
In the telephony world over the years, we’ve had a question that identifies whether a company has a call center: “Do you have people that call your company?” BAM! You have a call center! (even if you didn’t know it).  I think a similar question exists in the context of being an EXC.  “Do you have employees, patients, clients, partners who need to communicate while on your campus or in your enterprise?” Congratulations customer! You’ve just joined the exciting world of being an Enterprise Exchange Carrier! Now let’s turn this responsibility into an opportunity, not a threat to your organization.

Frankie Says Relax

I know, in a confusing field of many strong wireless players, it’s hard to understand where each plays. For instance, what IS Avaya’s story? I’ve been trying to figure this out for awhile and I think I’ve finally succeeded.  To sell Avaya’s WLAN, you have to sell the Avaya architecture and here’s why:  Avaya is the only manufacturer besides Cisco who  sells an end to end network, voice and video solution with one unique difference: Avaya leverages a “split-plane” architecture which integrates control, management, security and guest management of the (a) wireless and (b) wired network on the same plane.

Don’t worry, I’m not smart enough to go into much more detail but the net/net is you aren’t managing two discrete networks. Also, Wireless traffic travels on the wired infrastructure without the need to terminate in wireless controllers.  This means greater speed and simplicity. While others tout a unified solution, they’re not mentioning the fact that their WLAN is really just bolted on, much like Frankie’s head.

My guess is you’ll see Juniper, who’s already getting great traction with Trapeze, take the same approach. In the scrappy world of nuanced WLAN value prop’s,  a truly integrated solution may help Avaya and Juniper make a quantum market share leap.

Lastly, I’ll just mention what I’m telling every partner I talk to: To my knowledge, WLAN is the fastest growing segment in Catalyst’s (and probably ScanSource’s) overall business. Right now, we have a perfect storm of circumstances that are causing enterprises to upgrade their wireless network. I can guarantee if you aren’t talking to your customers about WLAN,  your competition is. The numbers don’t lie.

Good Selling,


Instant Business Strategy: Just Add Water

There are fortunes to be made. Over 1M partner ACS systems are out there and prime for someone to give them one or two reasons to upgrade their system. If you know the value proposition of IP Office, you know there are many reasons. All you have to do is figure out how much the additional functionality means to their business and give it a monthly dollar figure.  If you can uncover $50 worth of value every month, you’ve got a customer.
Now I know what you’re thinking: These are small sales. True, but what if you could sell 20 of these every week? I’ve crunched the numbers and figured out you can net about $500 to $700 per system (after gear and installation).  That equates to at least $48,000 a month in profit. 
Do I have your attention? Give me a call and I’ll explain how you can employ the following tactics to build a cash cow.
  • Use publicly available data mining tools to identify existing Partner ACS customers.
  • Implement these systems very inexpensively by utilizing our staging services.
  • Employ SEO and Pay per click to drive traffic to a website like the one above.
The money is out there, just waiting for you to grab it.  Let’s talk.

An excerpt from the SIP Playbook…

A Tale of Two VARs

At our partner conference last week, Cleveland McBeth shared with our partners some savvy best practices to help maximize VARs’ purchasing power but more important, improve your financial performance and foundation for growth. He talked about two resellers that sell identical solutions, charge identical prices, and get identical discounts. Nonetheless, Reseller #1 requires $805K in additional cash to fund their business!

The difference between these two resellers lies in two factors: (a) investment in accounts receivable; and (b) investment in inventory.

Reseller #2 collects their A/R in 39 days by using a combination of down payments, progress payments and leasing. Furthermore, they have partnered with Catalyst to Integrate their solutions in our warehouse while their engineers remotely program the systems on our bench. Since Catalyst doesn’t invoice until we ship, the reseller avoids investing their cash flow in inventory. Remember, many VARs let gear sit on their bench for a week or two before they even touch it (you know who you are!) Cleve didn’t even include all of the dollars saved in shipping since the product only ships once.

Cleve went on to explain that Reseller #1 pays an additional $64K in interest charges since the bank gives him a higher interest rate on his already inflated working capital investment.

Do you want to have a discussion about how we can help you improve your balance sheet and income statement? We can even benchmark you against partners your size to show you how you compete financially. Call or email me.