Vocus looks to channel to disrupt telco market

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Vocus looks to channel to disrupt telco market
Cirrus’ Chief Operations Officer Chris McLaughlin speaking at CRN Channel Academy.

Vocus wants to double its enterprise and government revenue within five years, and it’s looking to the IT channel to help it do that.

The fibre and network services provider sees growth opportunities as technologies like Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) disrupt its industry.

But to take advantage of that trend, it needs partners that can help it offer end-to-end ICT solutions and services.

That’s a significant opportunity for the channel, considering Vocus’ sizeable sales team, network infrastructure and customer base of more than 5,000 organisations. And one channel partner is already benefitting from those resources.

Beyond carriage

IT services and solutions provider Cirrus has been working strategically with Vocus for about 12 months. It’s an ideal partner, given its 180-strong team and advisory, integration and managed services capabilities. The company is also a networking specialist and partner of Cisco, Palo Alto and other SD-WAN providers.

That gives Vocus the ability to go after bigger targets, says Monique Esplin, Vocus General Manager of Indirect Channels and Strategic Alliances. “It gives us a managed services capability and significantly raises the bar for us in terms of average deal size,” Esplin explains. Vocus has signed two deals worth more than $1 million that involved Cirrus.

It’s also changed Vocus’ conversations with customers about vendors. “It gives us the flexibility to go out there and take a vendor-agnostic approach, so we can have a business conversation. It means that we’re no longer walking away from sales conversations. We're saying ‘yes’ a lot more,” says Jack Hedges, Vocus Enterprise Account Manager.

Meanwhile, Cirrus is benefitting from greater market reach, due to Vocus’ larger sales force and customer base. It also has a bigger story to tell its customers. “[Together, we offer] a really broad spectrum of services, from connectivity to site deployment and support, which gives us the ability to augment our engagement with a much wider client base,” Cirrus’ Chief Operations Officer Chris McLaughlin.

“Clients see us as a real viable option against companies which are multiple times bigger than us. It means we're punching above our weight,” McLaughlin adds.

Mutual trust

It’s not just complementary capabilities that make this partnership effective – close collaboration is also important. That may sound obvious, but it’s critical when complex ICT deals are involved. “The more complex solutions get, the more likely asynchronous communication will fail,” says McLaughlin.

The partners have considered everything from how they work together on presales, to architectural, operational management and executive governance issues. Both companies also review solutions from a technical perspective and agree on issues relating to payment. “Customers want complex commercial structures. If you don’t do that well, they will get charged for something they shouldn’t, or you won’t make money from engagements,” McLaughlin says.

Trust is also vital. “If you’re downstream and your partner is trying to protect you from the client and there's no trust there, then messages get mixed,” McLaughlin explains. “The larger telcos want to own the customer, own the business. They treat you almost like a franchise, which is prohibitive in terms of our growth and independence.”

McLaughlin likes that Vocus isn’t afraid to bring Cirrus to meet customers. That eliminates confusion and strengthens relationships. “Vocus are advocates for us and vice versa,” he says.

That formula has generated a strong pipeline of work for both companies. 

It’s also encouraged Vocus to establish strategic relationships with other partners, and to look for more strategic partners. “We have an ambitious goal and we know that we need the channel to help us achieve it,” Esplin says.

Chris McLaughlin presented this case study at Channel Academy, a new educational event series presented by CRN. Chris spoke at the invitation of Channel Academy sponsor Vocus.


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