Technology Reseller speaks to Jane Craven, Sennheiser UK Sales Director for IT/Telecoms, about opportunities for the channel
Over the last five years Sennheiser has been growing twice as fast as the headset market overall, which itself has been growing at a healthy rate thanks to gaming and the take-up of unified communications (UC).
Headsets are a key component of UC systems and this is reflected in headset sales. Frost & Sullivan estimates that the headset adoption rate with UC is around 60% versus 5-10% with traditional phone systems. As a result, it expects the CC&O (contact centre and office) market to grow at a CAGR of 11.7% over the next 5 years, from $1,200 million in 2014 to $2,600 million in 2021.
Sennheiser has what UK & Ireland Sales Director Jane Craven describes as ‘selective distribution’. It works with a number of distributors and about 230 authorised resellers who have to complete an online accreditation process.
“We do this,” says Craven, “because Sennheiser has a premium image, and this doesn’t just start with the product. The buyer has to feel it from the moment they first research their choices; through the buying process, dealing with knowledgeable sales people who can describe our products; and through the quality of the post-acquisition service, having someone they can call if they need help.
“One of the big advantages of selective distribution is that all our resellers know about and understand headsets. That’s very positive for end users. They know that if they go to a Sennheiser-approved reseller they will get the service levels they need.”
Craven adds that professionalism is a key requirement, both online and offline. “Does the reseller have a professional IT and telecoms image and is the product being sold with similar products? We don’t want Sennheiser headsets being sold alongside dog food and hair dryers, as some competitor products are.” As long as a reseller meets (and continues to meet) Sennheiser’s criteria, it is happy to take them on, whether they are a traditional telecoms dealer or an IT reseller.
“We still have traditional telecoms resellers and the call centre is still an important market for us. But with the growth in unified communications, the IT reseller has got on board, including IT resellers of hardware, VARs and systems integrators. People who have a Skype for Business licence who previously might have stayed away from hardware have recently started to understand that if they are not selling hardware they are probably missing an opportunity,” explains Craven.
“With telephone systems,it’s always been a struggle to get away from the concept of a headset as a contact centre tool, even if a lot of offices have cottoned on to the fact that it’s not good to have people cradling a headset between their neck and shoulder. But with UC, I haven’t come across a single deployment that hasn’t included some level of headset purchases.”
Craven cites the example of Vodafone, a huge provider of Cisco Jabber and Lync licences that never used to get involved with headsets. “We worked closely with them last year on a deal for the Environment Agency. They chose Cisco Jabber as the client and for that you have to have a headset that works. A ton of headsets were sold and now we work with Vodafone on practically every project they bring in.”