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Analytics: The Secret To Success For Cloud Distributor, Telarus

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Telarus has been recently named the newest Elite partner of Level 3 Communications. We decided to dig in and find out more about Telarus, their best practices, and about the managed services channel in general. Now, many hardware manufacturers are moving as fast as they can to develop (or buy) managed solutions, master agents, or outside sales agents who sell for a residual commission. The “born in the cloud” Cloud Distributors – clearing houses who understand recurring revenue, who can help partners not only source products but also help them manage their customers for a long time after the initial sale is made, and provide add-on resources to help their partners play a part in the design and implementation of complex sales – are beginning to play a major factor in the distribution of hosted VoIP, hosted UC, network, data center, and ‘anything’ as-a-Service. Below is our interview with Patrick Oborn, Co-founder of Telarus, a Cloud Distributor headquartered in Sandy, Utah:


Q: Patrick, tell us something more about Telarus and your technology solutions?

A: Telarus is a master agent who holds contracts with over 60 carrier and technology solution providers. Although our core business is giving our partners access to just about any broadband, voice, cloud, or data center provider they need – and paying them a residual commission for their sales efforts – we focus on developing ‘partner enhancing technology’ that helps them get pricing and availability faster than they can on their own or with another master agent. By making the pricing and sourcing process easy and painless, we are able to attract more new selling partners to us, and by virtue our suppliers.

Q: What advantage does Telarus have over its competitors?

A: Most master agents in the channel rely on phone calls, emails, and voicemails to obtain pricing and availability for their partners. Most of things we sell are highly sensitive to the end-user’s physical location, so you can’t just assume a particular broadband or hosted PBX plan for any one customer. We saw this as an opportunity to create software to help our partners see pricing and availability in seconds, allowing them to spend their discretionary time building relationships with customers and focusing on high-end, complex sales.

Recently we purchased VXSuite and created a NOC which monitors all of the circuits our partners sell, regardless of carrier. This free service that we layer in on top of the carrier service allows us to really stick out, but most importantly it allows our partners to differentiate themselves from other peers who just sell on price.

No other master has a software development group, and no other master has an indigenous circuit monitoring platform that we can use as we see fit. Helping partners find what they’re looking for, faster, and then helping them add value to the services they are selling are two major advantages that Telarus, and our partners, enjoy.

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Q: What does it mean to be awarded Elite Status?

A: Elite status carries with it a dedicated Partner experience team, experienced Sales Engineers, marketing development funds, co-branded marketing materials, the most competitive residual compensation, SPIFFs and other sales incentives, and membership on the Level 3 Channel Partner Advisory Board (CPAB).

Q: How do you earn it?

A: Elite status is earned when a partner achieves a specified monthly billing level, otherwise known as total book of business.

Q: Why was Telarus awarded Elite status?

A: Telarus, over the course of almost 10 years, has sold enough contracts to equal the requisite amount of business to achieve Elite status.

Q: What does it mean to Telarus?

A: As a Level 3 Elite partner, Telarus offers top-tier compensation, marketing support, and sales incentives to our downstream partners. On the marketing front, Telarus has over 20 local events and one national event. As an Elite partner, we benefit from Level 3’s support, helping us fund, advertise, and drive attendance to these training/recruiting events.

Q: To your agents?

A: Our agents will have access to the best channel managers, engineers, and customer service reps Level 3 has, which means quicker quote turn-around times, more thorough network architecture plans, and superior support with service delivery and billing issues.

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Q: Why is Telarus different from other master agents?

A: Telarus has created and patented technology to help our partners qualify and price IT infrastructure (cable, T1s, PRIs, data center, and fiber) in seconds. No other master agent has this “instant quote” capability, or employs software developers to produce unique technology for their partner’s benefit. With the help of VXSuite, a software platform that MSPs use to produce reports on how the technology they’ve sold their clients is actually performing, we now offer free circuit monitoring on every circuit sourced through Telarus. This allows Telarus, and our partners, to stand out in a crowded industry, offering unique value that revolves around customer experience instead of price alone.

Q: How do you monitor Level 3 circuits?

A: We monitor Level 3 circuits using a cloud-based platform called VXPulse, which (in its simplified form) gathers ping and traceroute data for each circuit every 5 minutes. VXPulse then archives that data for 60 days, sending our partner and the client usage statistics via email each week. These reports can be used to see just how well the network is performing over time and sheds light on situations that could cause VoIP quality (or any other cloud application) to degrade. The system also sends out emails, text messages, and (soon) iPhone push alerts to the Telarus app, when circuits become unresponsive.

Q: Why would a partner care about circuit monitoring?

A: Circuit monitoring can make the difference between winning and losing in a competitive situation. Our partner’s primary source of competition is the carrier’s direct sales force, which (for the most part) does NOT offer circuit monitoring as part of their solutions.

Second, having circuit monitoring and performance history can save an agent if/when their customer calls and reports that they are having intermittent performance issues. Typically, when our partners call the carrier to report such outages, the service tech performs a ping and traceroute test and reports that “everything looks good to me.” With the performance reports that our circuit monitoring service produces for our partners, they can go back to that carrier, armed with historical data, and get them to actually fix issues that could become relationship-affecting. Because, let’s face it, when our partners recommend a carrier to a customer, their own reputation is tied to the performance of that service. It’s always a good idea to be able to have actual performance data that can be used to enforce carrier service level agreements and ensure the relationship with the customer is preserved at all costs.

Q: What are your plans for next six months?

A: Circuit monitoring every circuit for free is fantastic! But what happens when the alarm goes off and tells us (and the partner) that there is a service interruption? The answer is, someone, somewhere needs to let the carrier know through a trouble ticket. We plan to create such a system that includes not only the ticket creation, but 24/7 staffing to ensure proper incident resolution. This Help Desk service will help our partners look like heroes to their customers.

We also plan to expand the services that we currently quote in real-time in GeoQuote, our patented service and availability tool. We’ll be adding Hosted PBX to the mix, allowing our partner, in seconds, to find the best-fit hosted voice provider with respect to both features and pricing. We think that this tool will not only inform, but educate our partners about the proper questions to ask, highlight the key differences between the many hosted offerings on the market today, and help them become more reliable advisors to their customers, all at the same time.

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Q: What’s the best thing about Telarus that people might not know about?

A: Most people don’t know how much leverage they can achieve by working with Telarus. Here they can “bolt on” several key pieces that a growing agency needs to scale: customer base management, sales engineering, project management, and even solution sales (ie: “rent-a-rep”) – all on a deal-by-deal basis. We see the market is starting to recognize our tools, both pre-sales and monitoring tools, as game-changers, but most people have no idea that they can literally outsource the entire sales lifecycle to us, under their brand, if needed.

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