In this article, we discuss the differences between the two main options when considering a partnership with BT Business. If your business is looking to white label and own the customer contract, becoming a BT Wholesale Reseller is the right track.
In either respect, Network Union offer a Reseller Programme which allows you to access one or the other and a hybrid of both where it makes sense.
How to become a BT Wholesale channel sales partner?
There is an application process to follow but before readers even progress to this stage, it is important to understand the implications.
There are a number of products the wholesale channel can facilitate depending on your own existing or future capability. As an example, organisations looking to develop a Layer 3 MPLS capability for their customers should note that the architecture would consist of your Layer 3 Provider Edge (PE) hardware and (P) Provider hardware interconnected using Layer 2 wholesale Ethernet connectivity.
Depending on budget and desire to expand, the expense and cost of building out such a capability are significant. In many respects, this is why there is such a heavy investment required to create service provider infrastructure. I know of organisations operating under a ten-year plan which is required to fund such a build. There is no doubt that operating as a service provider is a fantastic opportunity to attack the market.
The BTW - BT Wholesale - channel will require infrastructure to backhaul connectivity back into your data centre or hosting facility. Again, you are creating your own service provider infrastructure. There are some exceptions to this statement which we’ll explain.
Fig1 shows this concept in a little more detail.
As an example, MPLS or VPLS WAN services will require your own build of Provider Edge POP locations interconnected with BT point to point or multipoint Ethernet. Also, to support your client base, a NOC (Network Operation Centre) will require careful thought regarding how you support your business customers and monitor circuits.
What is the net result? Expense and complexity. The potential upside is, of course, a revenue stream where you control margins and own the customer.
BT Wholesale offer point to point and multipoint dedicated fibre including BT SHDS and BT Optical products which are potential easy sells to your client base. Over and above data services, BTNet Leased Lines are also available. The requirement to support your wholesale customer remains, but there is less complexity as these circuits perform a single task.
Is the BT Reseller Program a viable alternative?
In addition to the Wholesale route and BTLB (BT Local Business), there is an alternative route into BT which opens up all retail products to your new and existing clients. The BT Partner Programme and BT Reseller Programme are available.
The Partner program requires a fair amount of commitment as BT assign targets which must be achieved across their portfolio. As I write this article, there have been signs that BT are consolidating their existing Partner base by reducing the number of fully accredited authorised entities.
However, in an astute move back in the distant past, BT allowed full partners to take on resellers. The ‘resellers’ were authorised to sell the BT portfolio via a sub-contract with an existing full partner. The result? The Resellers were shielded from full targets and were essentially able to generate business across any product in any quantity.
The first point to consider is contractual for both the reseller and partner options. All business placed into the BT Reseller Channel is registered under your company dedicated Reseller ID but any contracts are between the customer and BT including billing and support. The benefits clearly surround the low input and resource required from your business to install the products. BT will project manage, install and provide end to end support on all customer accounts allowing your business to focus on sales.
There is substantial process and governance surrounding the BT Reseller and Partner Programme which provides confidence in placing business via the channel. As an example, full reports are provided on a weekly basis detailing the progress of orders allowing your business to view at a glance the state of your BT business sales.
Included within the overall BT channel package are resources from BT including a Sales Specialist and Desk Based Account Manager. Over and above BT resources, you’ll also gain support and expertise from the master partner if you’re interested in becoming a reseller.
Products available via the BT Channel?
There are actually more products available via the channel vs wholesale. In fact, the majority of products from both BT Retail and BT Global Services are sold by partners and resellers alike.
Network Union is a relatively boutique organisation, but our customer portfolio is enviable including large Global Enterprise organisations with network connectivity spanning in excess of 100 sites. The truth of the matter is this: we would not be well positioned to deal with enquires from substantial revenue generating organisations without the Partner Programme.
Using our Global clients as an example, their core connectivity is provided via BT IP Connect Global which offers Ethernet MPLS and VPLS across the globe. The product was ordered and provisioned by BT with billing and contractual aspects dealt with by BT directly.
The overhead of ordering complex data services such as MPLS and VPLS via the BT channel has been relatively low. There have been issues and we do account manage our business clients but the comparison with emulating the channel structure vs. wholesale is vastly different. We do have the option of engaging with Wholesale but we know the resources required would be significant.
On the flip side, accessing the BT portfolio via their channel programme is much simpler. If your business is at the beginning or looking to sell adhoc services, consider becoming a reseller. If you feel their is demand from your client base for the majority of products within portfolio, becoming a full partner could be of interest.
As we plan our own future, I do see Wholesale becoming part of the mix. We now have a track record with BT which allows us to look at where Wholesale products fit within out business vs. our channel clients. We would, I doubt, never consider selling MPLS or VPLS in a wholesale capacity but we may feel point to point and multipoint VLL and SHDS services are a good fit. Note: VLL (Virtual Leased Lines, later 2 emulated dedicated circuits). SHDS (Short Haul Data Services).
The conclusion - BT Wholesale Reseller vs Channel Partner Programme
The answer should be fairly clear, even after reading the basic information within this article. Wholesale requires significant investment and thought both from the perspective of application to become a BT wholesaler through to how your organisation will actually manage, support, monitor and install services and circuits.
Here’s the run down.
- All products and services are available across the UK and Globe.
- Partners are expected to achieve set yearly targets.
- Expertise is required from an understanding of basic telecoms products through to global data services.
While BT certainly support opportunities, uncovering prospects will demand a good understanding of business use and requirements.
It’s a full time job for your assigned staff, in other words you business will need to commit in order to make the relationship successful.
As per the Partner programme with the following exceptions.
leverage the experience of their master partner. With this in mind, consider your partner carefully since the more experience they offer, the better chance of closing sales.
Resellers do not have any targets as such, unless the master partner decides against this policy.
BT Wholesale Partner
Some products are not available from Wholesale such as MPLS and VPLS since your organisation would be required to build out your own network infrastructure.
- Ethernet services such as point to point and multipoint SHDS and VLL are available via the Wholesale partner agreement.
- You require your own support infrastructure and project management.
BT Local Business
BTLB owners essentially operate as a franchise within geographic regions throughout the UK. In order to consider setting up as a local business, BT look to ensure you organisation has good cash flow and resources. The Local Business franchise is also not owned by your organisation and must be returned at the end of contract.
The route your organisation will take largely depends on:
- Whether or not your business would like to sign a contract with the end client?
- Does your business posses the skill set and resources to support and project manage delivery?