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Q&A: with Neil Taylor, Head of Direct Partner Sales Gamma

Gamma, the unified communications solutions provider, is building on a successful 2020 with a renewed focus on its dealer business. James Goulding finds out more about the opportunities for IT resellers and MSPs from Gamma Neil Taylor, Head of Direct Partner Sales

Like many communications and technology businesses, Gamma had a successful 2020 based on a combination of organic growth and strategic acquisitions in the UK and Europe. Together, they helped the provider of unified communications as a service (UCaaS), SIP trunking, connectivity and mobile services to increase revenue by 20% to £393.8 million and gross profit by 21% to £200.8 million. 

This year, Gamma has continued to expand its footprint and enhance its capabilities through acquisitions, including that of Cloud Contact Centre as a Service specialist Mission Labs in March, while also addressing growing demand for hosted telephony, UCaaS and CCaaS through its Wholesale and Direct Partner Sales operations. 

The latter is headed up by Neil Taylor, who has identified IT resellers, VARs and MSPs as a key channel for Gamma as convergence, including accelerated take-up of Microsoft Teams, presents clear opportunities for partners from outside the telecoms industry to capture lucrative recurring revenue streams by offering UC services. 

We started by asking Neil about Gamma’s different routes to market and why the Dealer model is particularly well suited to partners from a non-telecoms background.

Technology Reseller: Gamma has two main routes to market: Wholesale and Direct, which you look after. What are the main differences between the two? 

Neil Taylor: With Gamma’s direct business, partners refer their customers to us and we contract with them directly – we bill, we provision and we provide first-line support to the end user directly. The partner has the freedom to be as involved or removed from the relationship with the end user as they like. We have some partners who prefer for us to communicate on a day-to-day basis, and others who would rather take care of this themselves. Our 24/7/265 UK-based helpline makes this decision easy for them too. 

With Wholesale, the brand the customer sees isn’t Gamma, but the partner’s. They know that Gamma is providing the service, but it is the reseller that delivers that end service to the customer and assumes the responsibility of service, billing and communications.

Technology Reseller: How many dealers do you have on the Direct side and why do they choose to go down the Direct route rather than Wholesale? 

Neil Taylor: Right now, we probably have around 200 dealers on our books, ranging from one-man-band consultancy businesses right the way up to MSPs with a salesforce of 500 to 1,000 people. 

Sometimes a dealer comes to us because they are installing a phone system and putting in our SIP trunks, in which case we effectively just take orders from them. But more and more often, especially when it comes to Horizon hosted telephony, we are introduced as product specialists and will sell directly to the customer through the partner. The partner is an introducer, a sponsor, into that end user business. 

The main reasons they choose to be a dealer for Gamma Direct are a) because by talking directly to their customers we can help them win more sales; and b) because they don’t have to do any of the provisioning work themselves – they can focus purely on their core business, while we provide a value-added revenue stream. 

Some also choose the Direct route to put a foot in the water, to test it out, before progressing to Wholesale. Over the years, we have been quite successful at delivering Platinum partners to the Wholesale side of the business. 

We get the occasional one coming back, as well, where they have tried Wholesale but found that it was a bit too much for them, that it was a distraction from their core focus or that they didn’t hit the revenue marks that they (or Wholesale) wanted. In such cases, they might choose to become a dealer instead.

Technology Reseller: The dealer route sounds an ideal proposition for an IT reseller or an MSP that might want to add hosted telephony to their offering without having to invest in additional skills or resource. 

Neil Taylor: Definitely, and with Microsoft Teams coming to the fore, now is a good time for businesses wanting an additional revenue stream to embrace voice and expand their offering. The relationship can be as high-touch or as low-touch as partners like; we have seen new partners from all kinds of industries, not just the one’s you’d expect. The attraction here is that we can provide sales and marketing support or train their staff to create and spot new opportunities themselves.

Unified-Communications

We have various models within the dealer channel. One is to be an Introducer, where the partner introduces a contact to us and we take over the sale from start to finish. Two is to be a Revenue Share Partner, a traditional dealer model, where they bring us the signed order form and we do the rest, although that is becoming increasingly rare as people today want us to do a lot of the selling for them. 

The third option is to be a Strategic Partner, where we will go into that business and help them to set up a whole marketing campaign, including collateral, artwork and web copy. We can even provide them with a tailored delivery plan too. Our team provides inhouse sales and product training, if needed, and they’ll manage the progress through regular campaign meetings. We can even put in heads to canvas their base and create sales opportunities, which our sales specialists will close and for which the partner gets a pretty decent commission. That option is a no-brainer for some organisations.

Technology Reseller: Is the dealer side of your business growing? 

Neil Taylor: Yes it is, and It’s a part of the business that we really want to put some effort behind. It is fair to say that over the last 14 years, the dealer side of the business has taken a bit of a backseat, as partners wanted to own the customer and build a base that they could sell. This took them down the Wholesale route, but now analysts are telling us that the UK market is going more and more down the Direct route, so we have made a conscious decision to focus on recruiting more dealers.

Technology Reseller: What are some of the key reasons why dealers choose to partner with Gamma rather than another supplier? 

Neil Taylor: Ease of onboarding is really important. It’s up to each partner to say what want from us, but essentially everybody gets a business development manager to look after their account. A small partner might get a desk-based account manager who will conduct webinars and train them up on how to spot opportunities. If face-to-face contact is required, a field-based person can go out and do exactly the same, but in person. 

If a partner is new to telecoms, for instance a managed print service provider, we can create campaigns-in-a-box for them. Our in-house marketing experts can go in and create all their campaign collateral, from social media banners to email footers, and ensure that all messaging is aligned and that their customer base is made aware of what they now offer. I don’t know if we would do that in every instance, but we can really throw our weight behind partners we think have a lot of potential. 

It also helps dealers to know we have the expertise to make sure no opportunity is lost. Although my team is quite small, we’ve got 50 or 60 direct sales people with experience across multiple sectors who funnel into our team and sift the opportunities. It really does help partners to know that if the opportunity is in the public sector, we’ve got public sector specialists that can work on it, frameworks that they can buy from; if it’s enterprise we’ve got a specialist team that can do that; and if it’s SME, we’ve got people who can talk to those types of organisation as well. 

Lastly, they really value partnering with a company of Gamma’s size and capability. We provide a complete communications service across our national voice and data network, including UC, connectivity and mobile. We are the leading SIP provider in the UK and, with 601,000 cloud PBX seats, are the UK’s leading Hosted provider in the sub-500 seats category. That sort of pedigree is hugely reassuring for partners that might be nervous about entering a new technology area. 

To find out more about how Gamma can help expand your customer offering with unified communications as a service (UCaaS), SIP trunking, connectivity and mobile services, please email dealer@ gamma.co.uk, call 0333 014 0000 or visit www.gamma.co.uk.

Gamma in 2020

Financial Highlights 

  • *Revenue up 20%, from £328.9m to £393.8m. 
  • *Organic revenue (excluding 2020 acquisitions) up 9%, from £328.9m to £357.6m. 
  • *Recurring revenue (repeat business) up from £306.9m to £359.3m. 
  • *Gross Profit from UK Indirect Business up 11%, from £119.1m to £132.2m. 
  • *Gross Profit from UK Direct Business up 21%, from £38.2m to £46.3m. 
  • *European Business saw gross profit increase from £9.2m in 2019. to £22.3m in 2020, primarily through acquisition – Voz Telecom (acquired in April 2020), HFO Holding (acquired in July 2020) and gnTel (acquired in July 2020).

Product Highlights 

  • *Number of installed SIP Trunks up 17%, from 1,016,000 to 1,185,000 (excluding sales of the MS Teams Direct Routing product and seats on Exactive’s CloudUCX platform). *Number of Horizon (Cloud PBX) users up 15%, from 522,000 to 601,000. 
  • *Number of Horizon users taking the additional Collaborate service up from 9,000 to 46,000. 
  • *Horizon Contact (fully integrated Horizon cloud contact centre module) launched in the UK (2 March 2021).

UK Acquisitions 

  • *Exactive Holdings. Acquired in February 2020, this unified communications specialist based in the UK and Poland, with expertise in Microsoft Teams, enables Gamma to configure Microsoft Teams as a full UCaaS solution.

European Acquisitions 

  • *VozTelecom (April 2020), a Spanish cloud communication services provider. 
  • *A majority shareholding in HFO Holding AG (July 2020), a leading provider of SIP Trunks in Germany that has recently begun to sell Cloud PBX products. 
  • *gnTel B.V. (July 2020), a Cloud PBX provider operating in the Netherlands and Germany
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TechnologyReseller: 2021