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This is the first in a series on the VoIP equipment channel designed to educate, bring transparency and inspire change for the good of all channel members.

As a kid I was addicted to cartoons.

I remember every day for lunch I followed the same routine. I would turn the TV to the Flintstones.

Mom would bring me a  peanut butter and jelly sandwich and big class of milk. For the next hour I’d laugh aloud and mow down my meal.

All was good in my world.

This wasn’t always the case. Every now and again the snow would come.

I’m not talking about the white stuff that Buffalo is known for. I’m talking about the blizzard that takes over your screen when your signal sucks.

Fred and Barney lived in Bedrock, not the North Pole.

Not one to subject myself to an obstructed view I would reluctantly and often with great sadness sulk my way to the TV and change the channel.

Fast forward 20 plus years and I find myself watching another channel suffering from obstruction and a sucky signal – the VoIP channel. Except this time I can’t just change it.

Changing this channel is no one man job.

In working with over 100 different manufacturers in various product categories and phases of their channel development over last six years it has always struck me how little many of them knew about how to effectively build a strong channel based upon today’s realities.

We’ve all seen the impact the internet has had on the world. We’ve seen the disruption it has caused in our very own industry.

Yet few manufacturers acknowledge and have prepared themselves for the disruption the internet has caused to the channel as they’ve known it. The internet has in many ways leveled the playing field amongst all channel partners, but it has also created chaos as legacy channel views and structures are not well suited to deal with the issues a “level playing field” creates.

Sometimes I long for the “good ole days.” From what I’ve heard the telecommunications channel was tightly run and margins were fat.

There were definitive tiers. There was consistent engagement. There was transparency.

Today that isn’t always the case.

There are often vague tiers, little by way of rules and many channel members operating under facades. Most are reluctant implement change due to fear of backlash.

There’s often little to no engagement. Communication – ironically – comes late, poorly delivered or at worse never made.

All of this adds up to a lack of transparency between those who are supposed to be partners, like the snow that blinded my view of the Flintstones. With no transparency there is no trust.

When there is no trust, there is no loyalty. And in business, loyalty is royalty.

This isn’t a manufacturer problem per se. This is an everyone problem – from the top down to the bottom up.

So how do we go about changing the channel for the better?

Well it won’t be easy. It’s not a one man job.

But it can be done and many are already doing something about it.

Over the next few weeks you will find a series of posts about the VoIP equipment channel. Who the players are, the hurdles we all face and the future.

All of which are designed to help all of us win.

In addition, I’ve created a group on LinkedIn that any member of the VoIP equipment channel can join. The purpose of the group is have a central place that all of us can openly discuss the channel, issues preventing our mutual progress and how we can all improve for the mutual benefit of our organizations.

You can join here.

Look for more on this next week as the next post in this series will be rolled out.

Disclosure: The views represented in this post are solely mine and do not reflect that of my employer, partners, suppliers, friends or family. They all love VoIP and everyone in it. At least that’s what they tell me.

Garrett Smith

Garrett Smith is an author, consultant, and marketer with almost 20 years of experience selling and marketing VoIP solutions. Garrett has helped thousands of businesses select the right VoIP system over his career, in addition to helping hundreds of vendors, and dozens of service providers with their go to market strategies. This experience gives him a unique position in industry that allows him to cut through all the noise. Garrett has been named one of the most influential people in the VoIP, and has written over 3,000 articles about VoIP since 2004.

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