ECN focuses on its network and services and relies on its channel to identify opportunities and close deals.
It’s who you know that matters. So says Matthew Montagu, channel manager at ECN. “We rely on resellers and wholesalers to act as our sales channel,” he explains. “Because they generally have existing relationships within the various target accounts and often have access to the right people at the right level.”
In order to ensure rapid market penetration, ECN has established a national network of highly effective resellers. There are currently twenty five resellers who earn a commission based on a share of the gross margin generated from each customer they introduce onto the ECN network. Once a business becomes an ECN customer, it is managed directly by ECN’s service delivery team from a support perspective. The reseller continues to play an account management role but is essentially freed up to move onto its next potential customer. This ensures that ECN constantly has a full pipeline of new customers.
ECN’s initial steps when getting a reseller onboard ensure that this success begins from day one. Not only does the company provide selling tools, and sales training, it even accompanies the reseller to initial meetings with new clients to help them close that first deal. “We have a very hands-on approach, because we are very enthusiastic about the channel,” Montagu adds. Throughout the relationship. ECN believes its duty is to provide support to the reseller. “We make resources available to make the job easier and keep them well informed,” he explains. An example of this is updating resellers with the latest regulatory developments affecting the telecoms landscape. This information can then be passed on to clients. Apart from word of mouth and reputation, there a couple of other reasons why companies are queuing up to become part of ECN’s channel programme. “Simply put we run a transparent and ethically sound operation,” says Montagu. He goes on to explain that ECN takes the time to understand the business of the reseller and what they are hoping to achieve.
Recognising the contribution that the resellers make to the business ECN recently started an awards programme. The awards, at a black tie function, are designed to honour the sales achievements made by the channel. Amongst the winners were: iConnect, Songimali, One Communications and DNS. “These companies make a fantastic contribution to our business and we need to honour those achievements,” Montagu says.
iConnect offers the full spectrum of voice termination solutions to a broad range of clients. The iConnect client portfolio ranges from corporate to call centres, governments to Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Its main market focus is providing savings-driven services to those companies that spend more than R7 500 per month through competitive rates for local, national, fixed to mobile, international as well as interbranch calls. The service is supported by a network of 15 resellers spread across the country. Calvin Collet, CEO of iConnect, says that the company strikes the right balance between cost savings and guaranteed call quality. Focussing purely on voice and by understanding the market, specifically the needs of its clients, iConnect is able to serve them effectively. “We have a number of management tools, such as a webbased administration system that allows system monitoring, right down to the extension level,” says Collet. “Our solutions allow customers to monitor and manage their telecoms infrastructure.”
Purely focused on voice One Communications mainly services call centres and SMEs. The company primarily operates in the Gauteng region, with dealers in Durban and Cape Town. One Communications’ core competency is IP based Least Cost Routing. The company leverages relationships held by its partners in Richmark Holdings, which is a technology focused investment group. Jason Graaff, MD at One Communications, believes that the company is at the forefront of technology and has the right commercial offering. “Our mission is to provide choice and deliver value, and to be in the market for the long term creating lasting customer partnerships,” says Graaff. One Communications’ strength however is selling products to customers. “We stick to what we do best, which is selling. We trust ECN to provide the network and the delivery of services,” Graaff says. The company is now solely focused on selling ECN’s solutions and services, having exited deals with other telephony suppliers. “IP is the future of telecoms,” says Graaff. “And ECN is the only supplier worth mentioning in the South African market.”
The Gauteng SME market is where Songimali centres most of its attention. As a wholesaler providing voice services in areas that have suffered from copper theft, Songimali’s business model largely relies on renting out last mile equipment. With its own billing platform and service delivery, the company is also a fully fledged Telephony Service Provider. Ronald Gill, sales director at Songimali, says the company tries to stay cost-effective in the market and compete with the bigger players. It has to play to its other strengths as well, such as ease of use for its solutions, an enthusiastic and qualified team, a fast turnaround time and strong customer support. Gill reveals that the company has three guiding principles: passion, creativity and integrity. “We try to keep our offering simple, give the customer excellent service and ensure that the customer gets the best value.” Songimali exclusively uses the services of ECN. The reason, as Gill explains, “Nobody else can deliver what they do.”
Targeting mainly mid-sized to upper level corporates, DNS Telecom offers the full spectrum of solutions. Operating in the Gauteng, Kwa Zulu Natal provinces, Polokwane and Cape Town, DNS Telecom provides the “whole basket” of services and solutions. From ADSL services to SMEs through to data products, PBX to voice termination, and has even developed its own soft switch, which boasts over 200 installations.Laurie Stafford, Director at DNS Telecom says the company prides itself on being an independent voice provider which partners with the best of breed technologies and suppliers. Taking a consultative approach and having a holistic offering means that the company doesn’t limit itself, he says. “We leverage technology to provide innovative solutions for our customers. We focus on what the customer needs,” Stafford notes. “After five years in this market we have proved ourselves, and live up to our ethos of reducing communications costs simply.”