This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine.
Offering certification to the channel can result in significant returns for service providers and those who sell their solutions, but the value of such initiatives drops significantly when provided for free. Those were among the key takeaways of a panel called “Educating the Channel with Industry Standard Certifications,” which was moderated by Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO Inc., at the most recent ITEXPO East.
Panelist Louis Hayner, WVT Communications Group and its wholly owned subsidiaries, Alteva (News - Alert) and USA Datanet, said that the value in certification is a better educated channel, an elevated customer experience, and, thus higher margins. Panelist Jim Riley of business hosting provider Apptix (News - Alert), added that certification is a win-win for both vendors and the individuals who sell their solutions.
Hayner said his company’s UC certification program offers instruction on value-based selling, a historical perspective on the technology, and the value proposition of the company’s specific products. That’s important, he said, because the industry needs to move to higher margin, more sticky services, so certification is a means to educate sales people that pushing cost savings is not enough.
Riley added that certification initially is just about competency, so all sales people have at least a base level of knowledge. But over time certification can help sales people to become subject-matter experts. Certification programs also can enable companies to deliver consistency in how they present their services.
Hayner says his company’s certification program has been so useful that his only regret is that it didn’t start it up earlier. The company offers the program at shows such as ITEXPO (News - Alert), does quarterly training, and is considering doing more remote training.
He went on to add that once the company started charging for the program, attendance increased.
Sometimes “if it has no cost, it has no value,” he added.
Riley chimed in: “Do you want to be in a room full of people who are there because they had nothing else to do that day, or do you want to be with people” who are there because they are trying to advance their careers?
Edited by Jennifer Russell