By way of a quick intro, my name is Justin Cooper or as my 11 plus years at Level 3 has afforded me: Coop. I am part of our strategic alliances team that works on developing and delivering “best of breed” solutions to the enterprise market with industry partners that complement our own services. How’s that for a fancy job description?
Part of my job these days is traveling around the country with our alliance partners explaining these new relationships to sales reps for Level 3 and those partners. For the most part it starts with a lot of glazed looks in the room – this approach is still new for a lot of folks out there.
But my favorite part of these events is the “light bulb” moment. Faces from both our team and our partner’s literally light up when they realize, on their own, the value these programs bring to their customers. (Or they’re realizing they will make more money… we are talking about sales people here) It’s pretty common and something we count on for these programs to be successful because just plain telling them it’s cool, doesn’t really make it cool.
This week I happened to have my own “light bulb” moment.
Now we feel really good about our strategy to collaborate with companies that target similar types of customers in our industry. This might mean different or multiple partners for different verticals but overall the idea of companies doing what each does well, having coordinated sales engagements and pre-certified, tested, and end-to-end integrated operations makes good sense for us to sell more network. This strategy has resonated well with our existing partners and targeted customers. So, while we each maintain our separate identities, we collaborate to design a service offering that takes advantage of what each company has to offer the customer. You could say that this is one of those times where 1 plus 1 equals more than 2.
But this week, while we knew there was value in the combined solution, we realized we were actually already delivering the exact same message on value for customers! (Seriously, swap a logo and make some color changes in PowerPoint and we could give each other’s first 30 minutes of a sales presentation).
Can our partner solve 100% of a UC solution prior to engaging with us? Not really. Can we solve 100% of a cloud solution that truly changes the way our customers do business? No. But by putting together our services and ensuring a fantastic customer experience, we now have the confidence to walk in with value statements that we can 100% address.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you as an enterprise didn’t have to listen/decipher the true service that your network, equipment & managed service vendors are really selling as “communications”? Don’t get me wrong, there are some very cool evolutions going on in the industry in terms of unified communications, cloud-based strategies, etc. that warrant those value statements, but we don’t think any single provider can bring it all to the table cohesively. We do think it would be cool though if those pieces came together through best of breed technology providers, perhaps delivered by VAR / system integrator; solving this before you have to make sense of which pieces even have to fit together.
Over the next few months, I will highlight some of the alliances and collaborations we have or are in the process of developing. I will also try to break down what we see in the marketplace and the benefits of best of breed vs. one throat to choke. This might be technology specific, it might be more general about the industry, or we may even bring in “guest speakers” to share the space to hear their point of view.