Why Resellers Offer Better Voice Service

If you think working from home is as simple as letting the workers use their home phone line to make calls or work from their mobile phones, you’re in for a rude awakening. In light of the Coronavirus, many small businesses are sending their people home to work, figuring that a phone line is a phone line, and calls can just be forwarded to the worker’s home or mobile numbers.

 

Put aside the issue of an employee’s private numbers being revealed so they can receive return calls or them blocking the number when they make outgoing calls. Those both are call related issues tied to privacy as well as call completion, making them each an impediment to getting work done. And if you think mobile phones are the answer, think again. 

Mobile phones are fraught with a second issue. The “Totem Pole Effect” where your cell connection isn’t static, and as the next new device connects to the tower a phone is connected to, each phone that connected earlier sees the connectivity level drop. Already, we and other cloud providers are finding that some of the cellular networks are finding that they are oversaturated, making it impossible for calls to be completed. Here again, a VoIP connection over fiber, cable or suitable DSL line is the best option, and where our White Label VoIP Assessment Tool comes in handy.

But there’s more. A quick review of calling features and functionality from AT&T shows that home phone service pales in comparison to what cloud-based VoIP providers, like the many SkySwicth Resellers, offer. Services from cable companies, like Cox Communications, offer businesses a package that is based mainly on Broadsoft’s platform. Known as IP Centrix, their customers fare a bit better in the features mix, but the “available for an additional cost” options quickly add up, making it bad business for small businesses.

 

Cloud Voice providers offer better value, a more robust feature set, lower costs, and access to local resellers who can provide a level of support the large cable companies and legacy telcos can’t in your time of need. Not only can they turn up service virtually anywhere, within minutes, they can also help with at home networking and the needed devices like phones, headsets, speakerphones, and more, supplying those in days, not weeks or months.

 

If your business relies on your people making or taking calls, a local reseller may be your best solution today, tomorrow, and for the future.

SkySwitch’s Top Tips for Working From Home

From a company that started out 100% remote, and remains largely remote with a global team.

Once the initial glamour of working from home in your pajamas or sweat pants wears off, you might find yourself struggling with the obstacles of working from home productively. Even though the trend for remote workers has been on the rise in recent years, it’s still very new for many —  and working from home isn’t always as easy or luxurious as it sounds.

SkySwitch was founded in 2014 as a completely remote company with a globally distributed team. Even though we opened up a Tampa HQ six years later, our global team of 79+ still largely works remotely — and our Tampa office employees work from home a few times a week. So when employers across the nation began sending their employees to work from home due to Covid-19,  the Coronavirus outbreak, the SkySwitch team was not phased in the slightest.

SkySwitch Resellers can and should take advantage of this expertise. By becoming an expert at remote work, resellers can segue into becoming a trusted advisor for all things related to remote work technology and collaboration tools. That’s why SkySwitch is hosting a webinar this month about working from home: so we can help you become an expert at working from home, and become that trusted advisor for work from home technologies for your customers.

In the meantime, our experienced team would like to share with you our top tips for working from home. (And make sure to tune into our webinar on March 31st, where we’ll dive even deeper!)

  1. Be transparent about what you’re struggling with
    Projects don’t always run smoothly or as planned. And when you’re by yourself in your home office, those obstacles can even feel pretty isolating. There’s also the panic of writing out an email with your questions because what if it’s a “dumb question” or what if the email gets passed around? Fears like those can make it more difficult to reach out with questions. But, when you have distance between you and your co-workers, it is essential to be clear, communicative and transparent with your team as soon as you hit road bumps. Time is precious, and you need to remember that you all share the same goal.

     

  2. Make time to connect with your team
    Just because there’s physical distance, doesn’t mean there needs to be social distance. Taking the time to check in on how your co-workers are doing on a personal level or taking an interest to their hobbies will help you build a stronger connection, and in turn, you’ll feel much more at ease communicating about road bumps, or voicing your opinions when you don’t agree with your team. An example is the daily stand up call our marketing team has every morning, about 30 minutes after everyone has started their day. We check in on how we’re doing, go over pressing matters, upcoming needs and more. While it’s not a long meeting, it does cover the tasks, actions and owners of various projects (like writing this post) so everyone knows what’s going on, and work keeps moving forward.

     

  3. Set ground rules with family and friends
    In the past, whenever I told friends that I often work from home, many believed that this meant I could slack off on the days I work remotely. As a remote worker, I can tell you that the truth is the complete opposite. I actually tend to work longer hours and remain more focused when working from home. Plus, my projects and deadlines don’t magically disappear when I work from home instead of the office. Friends and family (especially young children) may not understand that working from home still means you’re busy actually working. That’s why it’s important to set some boundaries upfront about your work hours and when you can be available — because you don’t want a scenario like this to happen during an important call.

     

  4. Get the right communication and collaboration tools
    Working at SkySwitch, a Cloud Communications Platform Provider, I’m lucky to be equipped with everything that I need to effectively communicate and collaborate with my team. Meeting Manager is a great interactive web and video conferencing tool that we use, and that SkySwitch Resellers can offer to their customers. Our ReachUC client makes it so easy to take calls. And thank goodness for the real-time collaboration capabilities of Google Suite and Slack. The point is, when you work from home, it’s important to assess how your team collaborates and to equip yourselves with the right tools for the job. And as a SkySwitch reseller, you have all the products and services your customers demand within reach. If you’re not sure what to advise customers who suddenly need to work from home, make sure to tune into our upcoming webinar, and always feel free to reach out to us!

     

  5. Have a designated workspace
    It can be difficult, but you should resist the urge to work on your laptop in bed or on your comfy sofa. Subconsciously, we associate our beds and sofas with rest — which obviously isn’t conducive to productivity. Proper posture in an actual office chair can do wonders for your productivity as well. When you sit upright, you feel more powerful and confident — both important traits to promote productivity.  And, who says you have to take calls sitting down? With the mute button, you can be walking around the house or around the block, so be creative on where you take and make calls, because your workspace is now more than just a desk.

  6. Put on real pants
    Although it is tempting to lounge around in your pajamas all day, the simple act of hitting the shower, getting dressed and having a morning coffee or tea will kickstart your motivation for the day and your overall productivity. As mentioned above, when working from home, it’s important to make that transition from being in a relaxed state into a high-energy and productive state, and getting dressed in the morning makes a huge difference.

     

  7. Be reachable in multiple ways 
    What happens if your internet connection goes down? Will you still be able to communicate with your team? What if your email provider is down temporarily for a few hours? In an office setting, you would be able to walk over a few desks or cubicles and collaborate with your team. But, of course, that’s not possible when you’re working from home. The thing is, none of these unexpected occurrences should prevent you from being able to communicate with your team, which is why it’s important to have multiple streams of communication when you work from home.

  8. Schedule blocks of time for breaks (and actually stick to them)
    When I work from home, I tend to zone in on projects and before you know it, six hours have passed without me leaving my desk! That is not healthy, at all, in the long-term. It’s important to stay hydrated, eat lunch and take short breaks to move your body and clear your mind. Set alarms in your phone as reminders, or if you’re a Slack user, set up an automated Zap to notify you to take a break. But, even more important than setting those reminders is actually committing to following through. Your body and mind will thank you greatly.

     

  9. Practice a “virtual commute”
    At the end of the workday, I take my dog out for a walk in my neighborhood. And honestly, that walk outdoors helps create that sense of “leaving the office”. Many people struggle with defining their work hours, but it’s important to have work-life balance. Taking a brief 15-minute walk after work is a great way to re-enact a “commute”. After sitting all day, you can get your body moving, clear your mind and get some Vitamin D.

If you’ve enjoyed these tips, make sure to register for our upcoming webinar this month! SkySwitch’s CMO, Andy Abramson, who has years of experience working remotely, will be leading the webinar, along with Darren Buckner, a well-recognized expert in all things work from home. SkySwitch will be diving much deeper in this topic, so you can become a trusted advisor for work from home solutions for your customers.

AdvantageIVR Offers Reduced Rates for Emergency COVID-19 Closure and Related Recordings

During these difficult times of social distancing, event cancellations and temporary business closures, SkySwitch is glad to have a vendor ecosystem that is actively doing their best to help the community, just as we are

 

After receiving many calls from business owners wanting updated greetings recorded for COVID-19 announcements, our friends at AdvantageIVR have decided to offer a special service to our resellers: discounted rates for emergency closure phone greetings, at just $10 per message. AdvantageIVR’s Donna Renee has long been in use by SkySwitch, and her support of our community has been invaluable, so her offer, and our support of it comes at a time when helping our resellers and their customer stay operating is part of our business mission.

Donna is also offering Auto Attendant scriptwriting assistance at just $5 per greeting. Her expertise in the voiceover field ensures that you have streamlined, easy-to-understand messages for efficient call routing. In times like this, where business continuity is so important, the need to communicate clearly and with assurance to customers calling in is essential — and Donna is here to help. If you’d like to take advantage of these reduced rates, contact donna@advantageivr.com.

And, if you’re interested in learning more about the difference that professionally recorded Auto Attendant Messages and On-Hold Messages can make and the business opportunity for you that goes along with it, make sure to register for our upcoming webinar on April 14th with AdvantageIVR’s Donna Renee.

How to Keep Working From Home In the Time of Need

The COVID-19 Coronavirus has us all, each day, seeing more events canceled, more companies asking their employees to work from home, and a greater need for our resellers and their customers to know what they need to do to effectively work from home.

Since SkySwitch’s inception, our company has already had a remote and distributed workforce. We have instituted a work from home program, and given our cloud-native approach, we’re well prepared for our staff to work remotely. Our team is here to help you and your customers take advantage of remote work, just as we do.

To work from home, there are a few steps that make life easier for your staff and your customers.

 

1. Assess their home network using our VoIP Network Assessment tool. Our free VoIP Network Assessment tool makes it fast and easy to determine if a customer’s home office has the right stuff from the start. If their routers, access points and WiFi gear aren’t good enough, or if their internet connection from their broadband provider isn’t fast or stable enough, you’ll know from the start and can take action to change the gear or upgrade their broadband if it’s available.

The Yealink SIP-T57W Phone, available in the online SkySwitch Store


2. Have your support team ready to help.
Set up a VLAN on their routers. A VLAN allows the VoIP traffic to be prioritized over other traffic in the home if properly configured.

 

3. Make calls using our Reach UC client or a desk phone. Reach UC is available for download for iOS and Android devices for easy business calls on your cell. Desk phones can be taken from the office and connected to a home network. If you need new desk phones, the SkySwitch Store has worked with many of our suppliers to secure lower-cost pricing — including lower prices on Power Over Ethernet adapters, so the phones can be connected by an ethernet cable directly to a router or switch. Other phones we have lowered prices on are WiFi capable, so between a hard-wired or wireless connection, calls can continue to happen uninterrupted.

4. Stay connected with your team. SkySwitch also offers Find Me/Follow Me functionality via the user portal. With that enabled, incoming calls can be directed to ring multiple devices, like your home phone, mobile phone and more, all at once. When forwarding calls to another number with voicemail, like your mobile phone has, consider enabling the feature to “enable confirmation for offnet numbers” so that the PBX can keep control of the call and forward to another destination if required.

5. Host interactive web and video conferences with Meeting Manager. We are, for the near term, waiving the cost of riders to resellers for our Meeting Manager service.

 

6. Setup E911 phone requirements. Once your staff or your customers’ staff have started to work from home, you should have them set up their extension’s physical address. As always, setup and configuration for E911 is a service SkySwitch offers at no charge to our resellers. For more information on setup, management and testing, read our Knowledge Base docs.

7. Communicate freely at home. Working from home doesn’t mean the business has to stop. As a company, we make use of speakerphones in our office and home environments, and just as with phones and Power Over Ethernet cables, we’re making them available through our distributors at lower than usual prices. 

We are continuing to monitor the rapidly changing situation and keeping watch on our network to ensure that you and your customers can operate business as usual in these unusual times.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

— The SkySwitch Team

Product Review: Poly VVX 350

BY JASON HARRIS, REVIEWS EDITOR

Poly makes a wide array of telephony, communications and consumer electronic equipment. In time, we’ll take a look at a variety of VVX model desk phones, and today we highlight Poly’s VVX 350 — a business IP desk phone that’s aimed at small to medium-sized businesses.

Features and Overview

The Poly VVX 350 is a high quality, color, mid-range IP phone that can support up to six phone lines. If you require dependable and reliable connectivity and voice-call performance, the VVX balances cost-effectiveness and industry-leading productivity. Let’s peek at this model’s features:

  • Sharp 3.5” display that offers information at a glance
  • HD Voice support
  • Group intercom paging — you can broadcast messages out to other Poly phones in your office
  • 6 line key buttons — including a power keys service that enables you to manage up to 6 live calls at one time or monitor status of 4 other extensions
  • Support for HD Voice codecs such as G.722, G722.1,  G.729AB, G.711(a/u).
  • Two (2) gigabit ethernet ports 

Opening the Box

Poly’s packaging for the VVX 350 is no-frills, but that’s a good thing!  I think it’s great the company uses easily recyclable materials. Upon opening the box, you’ll come across the expected phone base, handset, cord and ethernet cord. Depending on your model, the VVX 350 will include an AC Adapter. (Alternatively, this device is PoE capable, meaning all power is derived from the ethernet cord itself.)

Lastly, there’s an included plastic stand that enables you to customize the angle the phone sits on your desk. This phone model is easy to assemble and to connect to your network — it took me less than 75 seconds to get the phone physically ready to use.

Setup on SkySwitch

Once I had the VVX 350 out of the box and onto my workplace’s wired network, the phone booted up for its initial set up and I was ready to provision and use my fancy new review phone. Luckily, getting the new Poly handset online and ready to use was an easy three-step process:

  1. Find the MAC address using the Poly VVX 350s on-screen menus
  2. Add the phone to my PBX set up on Poly using the MAC address
  3. Use the Poly’s on-screen setup screen, setting the server type and address

Note: while some phones/devices can use their web page user interface to provision and set these preferences on the device, I read this Skyswitch Knowledge Base article and found that for Poly phones, you set this easy configuration up using the phone’s menus, not the Web UI. That said, phones ordered via the SkySwitch store are shipped already provisioned.

So, in my case, I simply navigated to the Admin settings, then Network Configuration, then Provisioning Server, changed the Server Type to HTTP and set the server address to http://sipcfg.io/cfg – then, the Poly VVX 350 power cycled itself and the phone came back ready to use!

Performance and Real-World Usage

I’ve had the VVX 350 on my desk for a week now and I’ve dialed landlines, my office-mates’ extensions and mobile numbers all over the world. The audio quality is reliably fantastic and the speakerphone quality is great. My callers report being able to hear me clearly when I’m on the speakerphone, even when I’m standing a few feet away. The VVX 350 proves to be a reliable workhorse that does its job without breaking the bank. 

*Like all products Jason Harris is reviewing, this device is available in the SkySwitch store, accessible through the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard

Channel Partners 2020 Cancellation Update

As of this morning, SkySwitch will not be attending Channel Partners next week in Las Vegas. This was not a decision we made lightly, or without taking into consideration the health and welfare of what we consider our most valuable asset — our people.

 

Up until this morning, we were very excited to be able to see so many of you at what is considered one of the anchor events of our industry. But with the mid-day report released today of a person with COVID-19, which is the Coronavirus, being discovered in Las Vegas, we decided to take the safe route and cancel on our participation, given our family approach to our staff.

 

If you were planning on meeting up with us, we plan on keeping those appointments virtually. If you haven’t scheduled with us and want to, we can do that via our calendaring apps, so you can talk with our team from wherever you may be. (Please see calendar links below.)

 

If you do plan to continue attending Channel Partners, please be safe and take all the precautions the Center for Disease Control is suggesting.

 

Sincerely,

Eric Hernaez, Jayson Jones, Frank Babusik, Andy Abramson and the entire SkySwitch Team.

 

 

SkySwitch on the Move at Channel Partners Conference and Expo 2020

From Tampa to Las Vegas, the SkySwitch team is ready to #SkyRocket your business

We are excited to meet everyone this year at Channel Partners 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada, as it’s our Channel Partners debut. As a channel only white label cloud voice provider, we’re always looking to add more resellers to our platform. At Channel Partners, you can find the SkySwitch team as exhibitors in the expo hall at booth #603. And, you’ll also see our Founder and President, Eric Hernaez, featured on a panel during the show.

While we’re there, we plan on following the Channel Partners rule of no handshaking, but we do look forward to smiling, nodding and bumping elbows with you!

Learn About the CPaaS Opportunity In Our Upcoming Panel

Eric Hernaez, Founder and President of SkySwitch, is a featured panelist in “How to Get in Early on the CPaaS Opportunity”, a session led by leading telecom industry analyst Jon Arnold, alongside Steve Smith, CEO of Fonative, and Ari Rabban, CEO and Founder of phone.com. In this discussion, these industry-leading experts will touch on how they’ve used CPaaS to increase customer “stickiness” and show you how to get on board too.

Drop Your Card at Our Booth to Win a Major Prize

Visit our booth, #603, to meet with other members of our team and learn more about how your telco business can earn more monthly recurring revenue by reselling cloud voice. And, while you’re there, drop your business card to be entered into our Channel Partners 2020 giveaway. Thanks to our wonderful sponsors, you can win any of these prizes:

 

Schedule a Meeting at Channel Partners 2020

Do you want to increase your value proposition by selling a white label telecom offering? Are you a 3CX user or interested in SIP Trunking? Or have any other questions for SkySwitch? Schedule an exclusive one-on-one meeting with our team and to learn how SkySwitch can skyrocket your profits with cloud voice.

Want to talk business development initiatives with SkySwitch?  

Interested in adding strategic value to your current relationship with SkySwitch?

Are you currently a 3CX user or interested in our SIP trunking solutions?

Want to learn how you can increase your value proposition?   

You’ll want to talk with Ben Macalindong, Director of 3CX Channel.

You should meet with Sean Breeden, Northeast Sales Manager.

What’s Next for SkySwitch? Find Out In This Interview, Live at IT EXPO

Andy Abramson, CMO of SkySwitch, talks about the future of the company and the benefits of working within the small to medium business market.

 

TMC’s Rich Tehrani speaks with Andy Abramson, CMO of SkySwitch, at this year’s IT EXPO, the #TechSuperShow 2020 in Ft. Lauderdale FL about the growth of SkySwitch. Abramson details the benefits of working with the company and how SkySwitch differentiates from competitors.  

Rich Tehrani interviews SkySwitch Chief Marketing Officer Andy Ambrahmson at ITEXPO 2020.

Video Transcription:

Rich Tehrani  0:28  

Hey, it’s Rich at the ITEXPO Tech Super Show 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. On our program today is Andy Abramson. He is the CMO of SkySwitch. Andy, welcome back to the show. How are you?  

 

Andy Abramson  0:39  

Rich, it’s great to see ITEXPO and great to see how it’s back, bigger than ever. And having been here now, you know, for so many years dating back to the late 90s. The show has gotten so, so big.

 

Rich Tehrani  0:51  

Thank you so much. Thanks for noticing and pointing that out. My team has done a wonderful job and we’re looking forward to bringing the community together year after year.

 

Andy Abramson  0:58  

Well, it’s really a great time to see all your friends, some of your partners, even some of the people you compete with, but this is the one event of the year where you do get to see everybody in some shape or form.

 

Rich Tehrani  1:09  

Thanks again and thanks for that. And you’re now at a company called sky switch you started last year, I’d love for you to tell us a little bit about that organization. 

 

Andy Abramson  1:17  

So SkySwitch is a channel only service provider for telecom and other services to the reseller community. So unlike some brands that you’ll know that they’re here, that steal from the channel, we only sell to the channel we don’t sell direct. We don’t use the we don’t take from them. We let the resellers decide what they want to call it, what they want to charge for it. 

And we stay in the background as a white label player, which means we market to resellers then we help them with training with support and with marketing.

 

Rich Tehrani  1:50  

That’s fantastic. And as an MSP there are a lot of benefits to white label right?

 

Andy Abramson  1:55  

You own the customer and then use pick your supplier and you’re able to maintain that relationship and as more and more of the big brands that you see are stealing from the channel and going direct, and then also moving upmarket.

 

 It’s leaving an awful lot of small medium-sized businesses who need help and still want that high touch hands-on relationship where they can call the person up and say, “Can I talk about what my needs are?” and you actually know who you’re talking to. You’re not getting some nameless faceless chatbot, or some person who’s answering the phone in a call center halfway around the world. 

 

Rich Tehrani  2:33  

That’s great and MSPs really benefit from white label right there. You want to list out all the various financial reasons that white label makes sense?

 

Andy Abramson  2:43  

Well, the first reason is you know what you’re paying. The second reason is, you can determine how much you want to make. You can set your own pricing. You maintain your relationships, and you control the transaction with your customer. 

You’re not simply getting a cut on the back-end of something and you’re not simply doing a one-shot like agents get a one-shot. So they bring the business to the brand. And then they’re gone. And then when somebody has a problem, they go back to the agent and the agent says well you’re on your own.

 

Rich Tehrani  3:13  

And there are also some benefits in terms of valuation right MSP’s that own that customer actually can end up with a higher valuation, which is great for if they have any kind of acquisition or anything like that.

 

Andy Abramson  3:24  

Well, the MSP not only owns the customer and owns the relationship and gets to set their pricing, which in turn, determines their value. They helped to grow their own business, they help to grow their customers, businesses, and then you’re seeing consolidation in the MSP space as well across the country. 

So what we’re happy about is we’re getting MSP’s are coming to us with hundreds and thousands of seats, and they’re migrating their customers over to us. It’s sometimes all at once, sometimes half now half in a couple more weeks every couple of weeks after that. And we’re growing. We’ve increased our reseller base since vectors very nicely.

 

Rich Tehrani  4:00  

That’s fantastic. That was last September?

 

Andy Abramson  4:02  

It was last October.

 

Rich Tehrani  4:04  

Fantastic. Congratulations. So what’s next for the company?

 

Andy Abramson  4:06  

I think what’s next for the company is a deeper focus on moving into the larger reseller space. We’re getting some traction with that. I think the second big thing is just offering some new and different services as the world is more and more cloudified, we need to be able to make sure that our resellers have the right tools to support their customer base with the right kind of tools. So SD-WAN is something that’s very important to us. 

 

We see that as essential because it helps to manage and shape the traffic that a customer has. So we’re doing that we’re also doing a lot more with SIP Trunking. Now SIP Trunking has been around forever. We’re doing it because we have a high demand for it. Because unfortunately, fiber isn’t everywhere. And superfast broadband isn’t everywhere, or somebody just needs a SIP Trunk. So we’ve put a lot of effort behind that. 

 

And again, we listen to what our resellers are. We’ve also added Granstream as A brand to support what our resellers want. We now sell Poly, Yealink, Granstream, Snom. We’ve also got computer technology who’s a specialist supplier of phones for harsh environments, outdoors, beaches, construction sites. 

We’re doing that we also help our resellers, through alliances with companies like REV IO and Datagate on the billing side. We also work with CSI and, and compliance solutions on the compliance side. And these are things that whether it’s on the billing platform or on the compliance platform or taxation. 

We’re able to make sure that a reseller can come to SkySwitch and get a full gamut of what they need to run their telephony business, run their business and sell things to their customers.

 

Rich Tehrani  5:46  

That’s great. Now how can people find you?

 

Andy Abramson  5:47  

 www.SkySwitch.com

 

Rich Tehrani  5:50  

Thanks for being here. 

 

Andy Abramson  5:51  

Thanks, Rich.

Standing Out From the Crowd at ITEXPO

Eric Hernaez, President and Founder of SkySwitch talks about having a unique voice in the industry.

 

TMC’s Rich Tehrani speaks with SkySwitch Founder and President, Eric Hernaez, at the IT EXPO #TechSuperShow 2020 in Ft. Lauderdale FL about what makes SkySwitch a unique player in the telecom industry. SkySwitch is all about helping the customers differentiate themselves and having the tools to be successful. 

Rich Tehrani interviews SkySwitch President and Founder Eric Hernaez at ITEXPO 2020.

Video Transcription:

Rich Tehrani  0:29  

We’re here at the ITEXPO Tech Super Show in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. On our show is Eric Hernaez with SkySwitch. Eric, how are you?

Eric Hernaez  0:38  

I’m doing great, Rich. Thanks. How are you?

Rich Tehrani  0:40  

Good. Thanks. So tell us a little bit about SkySwitch for those people who may not know.

Eric Hernaez  0:43  

Sure. So SkySwitch is a channel only white label UCaaS provider, which what that really means is that our partners are able to take our UCaaS platform and sell it and brand it and build their customers under their own name. 

So we’re behind the scenes making sure that the platform is running and it’s geo diverse. So it’s always available. But it’s really our job to help our customers be successful selling you UCaaS to their customer base.

Rich Tehrani  1:10  

And there are a lot of benefits for an MSP to own the relationship. You want to go into some of those. 

Eric Hernaez  1:14  

Absolutely, sure. Well, you know, typically the way MSP’s have approached the market has been to, well, you know, they have customers and a lot of times the customers will say, “Well, you know, we’ve heard about cloud voice, we want to get into Cloud voice, what do you suggest and many msps end up being agents for some of the larger national players. And that can be good because you know, you can give the customer what they’re looking for, which is a more feature rich, absolutely, you know, platform that does not immediately obsolete it. 

The downside, of course, is that that MSP ends up losing that relationship with the customer because once they hand them over to another brand, they lose that opportunity for monthly recurring revenue. So in our model, the MSP gets to continue being the trusted visor for their customers. And but they’re also able to brand their own voice, business voice solution and maintain that relationship and keep the customer.

Rich Tehrani  2:11  

It’s really exciting. And so not only do they make more money, they keep the relationship but talk about what happens to the MSP at the time of resale when they own those relationships are not resale but acquisition.

Eric Hernaez  2:22  

So, of course, everybody’s interested in their exit for their business and today MSP’s are being rolled up by larger MSP’s and other types of investors. And of course, the way you get value for your company is based primarily on your revenue. 

And so if you are simply an agent collecting, you know, commissions from another company that counts less towards your value, as compared to owning the customer and having a contract that says you’re going to collect a certain amount of monthly recurring, revenue month in and month out for X number of years.

Rich Tehrani  3:03  

So basically you get a higher multiple on that revenue. That’s white labeled as an agent as you might get on agent revenue.

Eric Hernaez  3:10  

Absolutely. In terms of valuations, the multiples for owning the customer and having that contract are much higher.

Rich Tehrani  3:16  

Yeah, I’ve seen some significant increases in those numbers. So tell me, you guys, I’ve had a chance to write about some of the news this week. You’ve been really a flurry of activity, I think three pieces of news, at least this week. You want to talk about that? 

Eric Hernaez  3:28  

Absolutely. Well, we try and use this event as a springboard to announce new things. And the first thing that we’re really excited about is our Appointment Reminder App. 

So a lot of our customer base sells to service type companies, doctors offices, personal health care, automotive services, things where the end customer has an appointment. And so what our new feature allows us to do is it allows our resellers to sell appointment reminder services as an adjunct or an add on to their business voice services. 

And our platform ties in nicely with all the CRM. So if you create an appointment and and you can get that CRM to push it to us we’ll automatically create the reminder. And the reminders can either be telephone calls or SMS messages or both. 

You know, it’s really up to the end user how they want to promote and configure it. So we’re really very happy. It’s actually been the number one requested feature related to SMS on our platform for the past couple years. So we’ve been working on it and we’re happy to announce it here.

Rich Tehrani  4:39  

So congratulations. I mean, there’s been a race to zero in voice at least that’s what some people complain about that it’s so competitive and people undercut each other’s prices and so you can actually give your MSP’s you arm them with the ability to add revenue as opposed to dropping and they can go in with a less expensive solution, but then quickly add on, add on, add on right? 

Eric Hernaez  5:00  

You’re absolutely right. It’s all about features. And because there are so many providers out there fighting for the same customers, you really have to do something to stand apart from your competitors. 

So of course price is one way you can you can differentiate yourself. But having features that a vanilla voice provider doesn’t have is another way. So whether you add that feature in and you’re able to maintain a higher price per customer, or you sell it as an add on feature to the customer, either way, you end up with, you know, more satisfied customers that are stickier and higher revenue.

Rich Tehrani  5:34  

Awesome. And then you also have a new group, a new Association. You want to talk about that?

Eric Hernaez  5:38  

Oh, yeah. So we are the charter sponsor for the Cloud Voice Alliance. And really, the CVA as we call it, is an organization that’s designed to help the smaller telecom resellers have a voice in the industry, because today there are organizations but they’re really geared more towards the larger nationwide providers. 

There’s really no one out there that helps the little guy who is emblematic of our customer base. So I like to explain it as an outsource marketing department for a smaller MSP. A lot of MSP’s are two, four people, organizations, and they just don’t have dedicated marketing people. 

So when they need to get that marketing material or the email blast or anything done, it’s something that’s not typically in their wheelhouse. So CVA is an organization that any telecom reseller can join, and they can take advantage of shared resources to get these types of marketing things done.

Rich Tehrani  6:33  

That’s great. What’s next for the company?

Eric Hernaez  6:35  

Well, it’s all about finding more ways for our customers to be successful in the market. So we’re expanding. We’re planning to expand into Canada and perhaps some other countries, but really, it’s about just delivering the tools to our customer base that let them differentiate themselves and be successful.

Rich Tehrani  6:54  

How do people find you? 

Eric Hernaez  6:57  

www .SkySwitch.com, or just google “unified communications as a service”.

Rich Tehrani  7:03  

Fantastic. Thanks for being here.

Eric Hernaez  7:05  

Yeah. Thank you, Rich.

Product Review: The Poly Trio 8300 Conference Phone

BY JASON HARRIS, REVIEWS EDITOR

I work for a small company and as a small business, we try to conduct our conference calls the best we can — on our laptops. Thus, we often struggle with the quality of voice calls and as a result, our business meetings suffer. In our company’s case, we use a variety of conference calling solutions based on who we’re meeting with, including WebEx, Zoom, UberConference, Microsoft Teams and Amazon Chime — and also GoToMeeting and the like. 

 

We also call each other directly when meetings are between smaller groups. It’s comical because, typically, we huddle around one person’s laptop, which is unfortunate for the person we’re calling because they can’t hear people who are sitting a few feet away from the hosts’ laptop. Thankfully, this is why Poly has conference calling phones that make everyone’s phone collaboration easy and so headache-free.

 

Poly’s Trio line of conference phones brings a robust variety of features, capabilities and options for businesses and conference rooms of all sizes. Today we’ll take a look at the Trio 8300 conference phone, which is intended to be a smart conferencing solution for small meeting rooms.

Features and Overview

The Poly Trio 8300 is the least expensive Poly conference calling solution aimed at small meeting spaces or huddle rooms aimed at calls with 2-5 people. The conference phone features noise-blocking technology, adeptly called NoiseBlock, Bluetooth connectivity and is compatible with video conferencing solutions including Zoom, Skype for Business, WebEx and more.

Let’s peek at the Trio 8300’s features:

  • Three microphones designed to pick up voices up to 12’ away
  • NoiseBlock noise-canceling capability
  • WiFi connectivity for cord-free collaboration
  • A useful on-screen display for call management
  • Color LED lights that indicate call and mute status
  • Support for up to three phone lines
  • Full call management including call forwarding, waiting, do-not-disturb and more
  • Dimensions of 13.3” x 14.1” x 3.5”

Opening the Box

The Poly Trio 8300 is an attractive UFO-looking device that is designed to fit nicely in your huddle or conference room’s desk setup. As expected, it’s 3-star shape is designed in a way to pick up voices, as this is a conference-calling phone.

 

In the box, you’ll find the Trio unit itself along with a power adapter and an ethernet cord. Simply remove the plastic and attach the physical cords, and your Trio 8300 will boot up, assume an IP address on your local network, and you’re ready for provisioning and set up.

Setup on SkySwitch

Once I had the Poly Trio 8300 unboxed and on the network, the conference phone boots up for the initial set up.

 

Setting up on SkySwitch’s network is easy — simply find your device’s MAC address on the onscreen menus and migrate to the management dashboard to add the Trio to your organization’s account. If the Trio 8300, or any Poly device is ordered via the SkySwitch Store, it comes auto-provisioned. Zero-touch provisioning is clearly the way to go, but as this 8300 came direct from Poly, I set it up.

 

In just a few minutes, I simply navigated to the Admin settings, then Network Configuration, then Provisioning Server, changed the Server Type to HTTP and set the server address to http://sipcfg.io/cfg —- then, the Poly Trio 8300 power cycled itself and the phone came back ready to use!

 

One last step I had, after the reboot, was enabling Wi-Fi on the Trio 8300 according to the setup in our conference room. To accomplish this, I followed Poly’s instructions. Note: you’ll need to know your organization’s Wi-Fi Network type, SSID and passcode. For example, our network is WPA2-PSK – I had to set that preference in our Trio 8300’s menu.

Performance and Real-World Usage

I’ve placed calls on the Trio 8300 in our conference room, which is sized appropriately for the unit. We have a conference room with brick on one side and a small amount of background noise (because the room isn’t totally noise-isolated), so it’s a good testing place for this conference calling phone.

In a word, the Trio 8300 has performed marvelously. It is so nice to be able to have a conference call with as many as 5 people, and for all of us to be fully audible to our callers. With a laptop-based phone call, we’re asked 10-20% of the time to repeat ourselves and we have trouble hearing the other party.

 

I tested the range of the Trio 8300 by stepping around 10 feet away from the unit and asked callers how I sounded. They reported that I, of course, wasn’t as audible as I was when I was 2-4 feet away, but they could hear every word.

 

Also, Wi-Fi performance has been strong on the Trio 8300. With this unit on our office’s Wi-Fi, we have had no dropouts, garbled audio or performance issues at all. In fact, performance is so fantastic that it’s not noticeable at all that this unit is using a wireless, not a hard-wired, connection.

Conclusion

The Poly Trio 8300 is an effective and affordable conference calling phone/solution for your small business that’s aimed to keep small teams in close connection. It performs very well, even in a wireless-network based environment.

*Like all products Jason Harris is reviewing, this device is available in the SkySwitch store, accessible through the SkySwitch Reseller Dashboard.

Pin It on Pinterest