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2017 was a breakout year for Telarus and many of our partners.  We saw many of our partners hit personal sales records in 2017 and as a result, Telarus had a record sales year selling over $11 million in new monthly recurring revenue.  Our growth rate also increased to almost 40 percent for the year, and in the fourth quarter, our sales growth rate hit 50 percent! The industry is increasingly choosing the partner channel to sell technology services, and customers are looking for third-party advisors to help them select complex technology solutions.  Both trends are causing a tectonic shift in favor of the partner channel and in 2017 we saw the beginning of that shift and made preparations for what comes next.

New Personnel in 2017

Even more exciting than sales growth is the investments we’ve made to help support partners in future years. In 2017, we were able to visit more partners as a result of senior partner development managers joining the Telarus team including Koby PhillipsBobby FabrisSusan EakleLisa Benton, and Nikki Beck. We also added Karie Huzzey as our VXSuite national channel manager, helping partners focus on selling monitoring services to customers. Late in the year, we added Scott Forbush, former channel chief of Zayo, as our new SVP of sales to lead the continued expansion of our field presence.  Each of these people was hired, not just because of their industry experience, but because of their history of putting partners first.

New Tools and Resources

Once again, we added more tools for partners.  We launched MoonRize at Partner Summit 2017 to give partners real-time status updates on account provisioning.  MoonRize is getting smarter by the day, collecting more data insight as we load more providers into the system. Tools like this will be critical to Telarus partners as sales volumes increase.  We know we spend 30 percent of our support time checking on order status and relaying that status to partners.  As MoonRize progresses we’ll not only save time internally, but our partners will have status before they even request it.

Telarus’ VXSuite division launched a Tier one 24/7 NOC for ticket resolution through which we respond to and repair circuit outages detected by the free circuit monitoring platform.  It turns out partners want to focus on selling and by handing off ticket resolution, they can provide great customer value and continue selling to new customers.

We also launched tools to help partners quickly identify the correct UCaaS and SD-WAN solutions based on customer need. We showcased the matrices at the regional Telarus Innovation Conferences and continued to add to them as products and features are continually added.

Historically, we built tools to provide time savings, intelligence, and sales assistance to partners. However, we create many tools with the intent of helping the partner amaze their customer.  We added circuit monitoring to the Telarus App this year allowing partners to view customer status in real-time and show a customer exactly what’s taking place in their environment.  Additionally, partners can run a real-time WAN/UC assessment at the customer premise using TrustedSky by simulating voice traffic all the way to the provider’s datacenter.  In 2017, four more UC providers joined the TrustedSky program and are now visible to partners and their prospective customers.

Industry Consolidation

We talk every year about industry consolidation.  Some acquisitions were announced in previous years and are now moving forward with approval from the justice department including, CenturyLink with Level3 and Verizon with XO.  We also saw new acquisitions take place in 2017 including, Windstream and Broadview, Rackspace and DataPipe, Fusion and Birch, Peak10 and ViaWest, Rackspace and DataPipe, and GTT with Transbeam and Global Capacity.  These acquisitions were primarily about scale, with the acquiring company gaining more assets, network footprint, etc. to have a more efficient cost basis.  Another type of acquisition we saw in 2017 was what we’d call legacy companies purchasing application focused companies.  We saw Cisco buying Broadsoft, SwingPath, and Viptella, Mitel buying ShoreTel (which had largely made the switch to UCaaS) and VMWare buying VeloCloud.

The trend of legacy companies purchasing service/application companies will result in an expanded need for the broker channel which is good for all of us. The broader consolidation has created larger sales volume requirements which are good only if you’re making the right decisions. In this scaled-up environment, a channel partner can choose to be successful in one of two ways.  They can either focus on bringing value to the end customer, or by being a master agent and bringing scale and value to the selling partner. There is no room in the middle. It was for these reasons that we sought a combination with another master agent that could help us grow, not just in size, but also in our capacity to support partners with more expertise, tools, and across a rapidly expanding product portfolio.

Joining forces with CarrierSales

The highlight of 2017 for Telarus was the merger with CarrierSales.  Growing at the same rate as Telarus, CarrierSales added the nation’s top Contact Center and CenturyLink practices to Telarus as well as UCaaS, AT&T, Mobility, and Security expertise.  Perhaps even more important than the complimentary nature of our focus areas is the culture both companies share.  While we respected CarrierSales as a competitor, it wasn’t until we began the merger discussion that we found what passion Richard Murray and his organization have for their partners’ success.  It’s better to be lucky than good, and in the case of this merger, I feel like we, and our collective partners, won the lottery.

Telarus on the Road

We made a concerted effort in 2017 to spend time with our partners in their towns and to visit suppliers to make sure were in touch with changing needs and trends.  We held a record number of events including Partner Summit, Telarus Innovation Conferences, and regional events.  We’ve never had more field events, and we look forward to having even more in 2018! We’ve got a unique message, unique technology, and we’re going to make sure that our partners know how to use these tools to make themselves more efficient. We certified over 500 partners in the use of our UCaaS, SD-WAN, and fiber location tools this year!

We also shared what we were learning and gave our take on the industry in our Telarus Weekly Roundup videos.  A partner was visiting our office in Salt Lake last month, and as I was giving him a tour of the office, he said, “you sound the same as your videos.”  I should hope so!  That was the whole intent.  These are unpolished, candid videos we created on the street or at the location we were visiting.  We filmed 35 videos in 2017 and filmed on four continents!

A Breakout Year

2017 was a breakout year because of previous investments and because of industry trends. We believe those trends will continue in 2018 which is why we made many of the investment decisions you saw in 2017.  The partner channel has an incredibly bright future and those who continue to invest with reap the benefits that come with this rising tide.  We believe in the future of the partner, and 2017 is just a prelude of what’s to come.