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A Channel Wake-up Call from Cisco's Broadsoft Acquisition

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A Channel Wake-up Call from Cisco's Broadsoft Acquisition

October 27, 2017

The IT world is a very different place than it was 5 years ago. The pace of change is accelerating every year.  Former industry leaders and innovators like BlackBerry, Avaya (News - Alert), Nokia, and Novel (remember them) once dominated their respective categories. Each had a strong “loyal” channel, but the landscape changed very quickly.  

That change affected every channel seller. The once lucrative equipment sales gravy train dried up overnight. Such changes are not always detected, even by industry leaders.

RIM’s then-CEO, Jim Balsille, in 2007 famously said this of the iPhone launch: “In terms of a sort of a sea-change for BlackBerry (News - Alert), I would think that’s overstating it.”

“I can’t say as I really pay that much attention to all these little dynamics,” Balsille added, “because it doesn’t help me, help my customers and help channels more and so let it be what it will be.” 

And so it was—straight from the mouth of a dinosaur, as the smartphone meteor plummeted toward his world.

At AVANT, a distributor of next generation IT services, we see and analyze real-time data from thousands of sales engagements annually. We detect market shifts well in advance of big earth-moving events. 

Our channel’s unified communications-as-a-service sales doubled in the past 12 months and our SD-WAN sales tripled. It takes a collective, committed will to break free from old habits ahead of a world-altering change and leap to the future ahead of the coming wave.  

Those that hesitate literally die. Witness RIM. 

As a channel sales person you must see the signs, understand them, and go to where the market will be. When these tectonic shifts occur, they reveal sales opportunities, representing potential land grabs by nimble players staking their claim.

In the monthly recurring-revenue world of cloud operating expenditures sales, once the space is claimed, the opportunity is gone. Churn in MMR services is very low. 

Cloud services don’t have an expiration date or replacement version that require a new sales motion. They auto update. Once a seller wins a customer, it’s pretty much that seller’s customer. The equipment sales gravy train is ending, shifting away from capital expenditures to opex cloud sales. 

In 2016, Gartner (News - Alert) reported that UCaaS entered the “Early Majority” phase of adoption. And the $1.9 billion acquisition of BroadSoft and $610 million purchase of SD-WAN provider Viptela by Cisco were more nails in the coffin of on-premises equipment sales. The recently announced alliance between Google and Cisco further highlights the flight from capex to opex.

These are loud screeching wakeup calls for every on-premises PBX (News - Alert), contact center sales person. A tectonic shift is taking place. New land is up for grabs. Are you ready to claim it?

Ian Kieninger, CEO and co-founder at AVANT says, “We built our business by taking advantage of dramatic changes in the market and helping sales people learn how to sell the latest high margin, next generation IT solutions. 

“As a distributor of next generation IT sales, we also must constantly keep changing. Last year we shifted our business to become 100 percent focused on channel-sales enablement. Having a catalog of services is table stakes, and keeping pace with what’s happening in the industry is a full-time job since so much change is occurring.

“Sales people don’t have the time to sell, do their own market research, and advance new services. AVANT’s business model is now all about helping sales people stay ahead of the changing IT landscape. We’re building a business model where the more we help enable a sales person to sell, the more we both share in the sales profits. Channel-sales enablement, with assisted-selling resources to help you sell, represents the future of IT distribution when what you are selling changes every year, month, week, and day.”

The world of IT changed again in October. PBX and on-premises sellers need to jump with both feet into UCaaS and cloud contact center sales. One thing is for certain. The IT world will change again. Today, the opex land grab has accelerated. As a channel sales professional you must stake your claim, adapt or die.

About the Author: Alex Danyluk is chief strategy officer at AVANT (

Edited by Mandi Nowitz

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