Wildix Convention 2019 - My Takeaways

I often note that as an independent analyst, I regularly come across smaller or lesser-known companies in the collaboration space, and they need attention just like anybody else. Many do not warrant my attention – usually because they’re just too far outside my scope of coverage – but some do, and if there’s a good story, I’m going to tell it.

Wildix is one such company, and chances are that most of my followers don’t know them at all.  Our paths first crossed while visiting their booth at last year’s ITExpo, and again in late January at the 2019 ITExpo. Building on that, I was the only analyst invited to their 2019 U.S. Convention, held last week in Washington, D.C. Since there was some overlap with Enterprise Connect, I could only attend Day 2, but I still got some good takeaways to share in this post.

When it comes to collaboration, enterprises are well-served by a familiar cadre of big-name players, and that’s as it should be. Things get more fragmented as you slide down-market to small-scale enterprises, then to SMBs, and then to micro-SMBs and SOHO.  By the numbers, this is by far where most business entities live, and it’s the sweet spot for Wildix.

Companies like Wildix don’t register high on the radar of analysts for a couple of reasons. First, most of their technology is home-grown, and while they do have integrations with household names – O365/Outlook/Dynamics, Google, IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, Citrix, Zendesk, Zoho, Jabra, etc. – it’s hard to know what to grab on to in terms of familiarity. The main thing you need to know technology-wise is that their platforms are based on WebRTC, which makes them easy for IT to deploy and for workers to use.

They certainly check all the boxes in terms of offerings – UC, cloud PBX, customer care, mobile support, conferencing, endpoints (IP phones, DECT phones, headsets, video systems) and network hardware (media gateways and PoE network switches) – so Wildix is very much a one-stop shop for channels with customers who are ready to move on from legacy telephony.

The second reason they’re not widely-followed in my circles is the nature of the company itself. With our native North American focus, a small, entrepreneurial venture founded by two Italian brothers – Stefano and Dimitri Osler – will sound a bit obscure. The company definitely has a Euro focus, not just for the customer base, but also their developer team, which is based in Tallin, Estonia. No matter – they seem to be doing well, and last week marked the first Wildix partner event in the U.S. So, for a company that’s starting a big push for growth in North America, it was good time for me to be there.

Every market has its center of gravity, and this one isn’t hard to figure out. Wildix offers a full range of communications and collaboration solutions, and they’re not comprehensive for good reason. They don’t have to be, but they certainly address the everyday needs of these customers. Wildix isn’t building their product set to compete with Cisco, Avaya, Mitel, Genesys, etc. – there’s no need for that. Their customers are at a much earlier stage for the digital transformation journey, and a little bit of innovation goes a long way, especially when it’s easy to use. Being a small business itself, Wildix understands this, and it’s easy to see why their offerings are WebRTC-based.

During the sessions I attended, one thing became very clear to me. Compared to enterprises and their overworked but seasoned IT teams, the buying environment here is less sophisticated. IT resources are leaner, the legacy mindset is more prevalent, and the technology needs are less complex. That part is clear, but less obvious was that the sellers are less sophisticated as well. Again, steeped in legacy technology and analog thinking, the channels that Wildix partners with to drive sales could stand to up their game.

Don’t forget, these partners need companies like Wildix for their own survival. Their legacy business is dying – and it’s not just selling telephony – one partner I spoke with sells photocopiers, another item from the analog endangered species list. So, they either need digital offerings to upgrade communications for end customers, or they need them to provide new lines of business. As noted, Wildix does provide hardware and endpoints to sell, but to succeed, they’re going to need to sell software and services. Similarly, they must learn how to sell subscription-based services, and adopt the cloud with its SaaS-based MRR business model.

With this in mind, I really enjoyed the presentation from Jim Rocher of Value Selling Associates. He did a great job deconstructing B2B sales, and showing how most of us get it all wrong. To illustrate, he polled the audience, asking what’s the #1 priority for your customers? Here’s what they said:

·         39%        PBX is old/needs to be replaced  

·         29%        They don’t understand UC   

·         8%          They want a cloud-based communications solution 

·         24%        None of the above  

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Correct answer – none of the above. According to Jim and his wealth of research experience, the top priority of end customers is business outcomes, end of story. What they really care about is building market share, growing margins, driving efficiency, etc. – not technology.

This is the gist of his “value selling” approach to make sales people more effective, and the audience really needs this kind of guidance. The technology may be new for them, but the underlying problems they’re trying to address for customers are not new at all.

To put it another way, he cited a 2018 survey showing that 71% of sales people simply talk product. Wow – in this day and age, 2018, you’d think we’d be way past that by now. Of course, product is important, but that should only come after you’ve established what the pain points are, and that you understand the buyer’s needs. As Jim said, “you can’t force people to change, you need to uncover their reasons to change”.

He really drove these messages home by showing the hilarious but totally spot-on “It’s not about the nail” video by Jason Headley. Sales, as with most things in life, is mainly about listening. Let the customer tell you their issues rather than you trying to guess them. As Jim said, the difference between good and mediocre sales people is that the good ones ask better questions. Enough said.

 Jim sure gave attendees a lot to think about it, and if they can apply these principles to get beyond pitching product, I think they could be very successful with Wildix. The offerings may not be that sophisticated, but I’d say they’re just right for the customers these partners are selling to. Don’t come in too high, but not too low either. This is about having the right product set for the needs of this end of the market, and with some fine-tuning on the sales front, there’s a lot to like with what Wildix is doing.