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Good news for the channel as BT Wholesale research reveals business appetite for tech spending

BT Wholesale has today published new research into UK businesses, aiming to understand what is important to channel partner customers to help supercharge growth. Despite cost control being a business priority, findings show there is a huge amount of opportunity for channel partners this year, including appetite for spending. Now is the time for partners to get under the skin of business challenges to help customers optimise costs and become the reliable partner assisting customers’ journeys to all-IP.

Embracing the appetite for spending

The research revealed a tight spread of investment priorities; mobile connectivity took the lead with 70% of respondents likely or extremely likely to invest, followed by cybersecurity (66%), digital phone line (64%) and broadband (62%). Diversification boosts customer stickiness and to meet this growing demand for mobile connectivity, BT Wholesale recently launched Complete Mobile – the first time EE Mobile SIMs have been available to enterprise resellers via a direct channel model with BT Wholesale.

Encouragingly, 88% of businesses are satisfied with their providers. Around one third expressed they are ‘extremely satisfied’. There is a gap between SME (32%) and Enterprise respondents (40%), as well inter-sector differences; manufacturing being most likely to report extreme satisfaction and hospitality the least likely. Channel partners must strive for extreme satisfaction to maximise the selling opportunity and minimise the risk of competitors stepping in.

Customer priorities: value and purchasing

When selecting a channel partner, value for money is the top priority. Purchasing experience is the second priority, emphasising the importance of speed and simplicity during the buying and scaling up of solutions processes. This is a good chance for partners to bring their servicing and reliability to the fore and stand out in a crowded market by offering exceptional value and a seamless purchasing experience to customers and prospects.

Among retailers and larger company respondents, sector expertise is also highly valued. Using BT Wholesale’s specialists and solutions specific to every industry, partners can cater to more customers and widen their offering. Industry accreditations is another pull for large businesses.

All-IP urgency

In response to the analogue PSTN switch-off by December 2025, businesses are making progress. Three in ten respondents have prioritised a shift to digital, all-IP solutions (with larger businesses leading the way). But there’s still work to do in the channel as 29% of businesses polled still don’t understand the benefits to their business. Partners must further support and encourage SMEs in particular to drive all-IP migrations and focus on the digital horizon.

BT Wholesale is helping Partner Plus members encourage customers to embrace their all-IP migration journey with our Complete Switch products and with personalised messaging tailored to customers’ learning journeys. Using the hub and our integrated all-IP campaign in a box, partners can use our assets to build their all-IP campaigns to provide detailed, local guidance.

Overall, larger businesses lead in all-IP progression, highlighting the need for partners to further support and encourage SMEs’ drive to all-IP migration and focus on the digital horizon. Partners can capitalise on this white space by supporting customers through the migration process, from initial education to address any concerns and audits so they can understand the potential scale of migration, through to managing the migration and future digital transformation. There are many opportunities for partners to support customers’ all-IP journeys.

Gavin Jones, channel partners director at BT Wholesale, said: “It’s great to see that businesses are generally happy with their technology providers – channel partners work hard to build value-adding customer relationships. But the findings highlight how important it is to keep an open dialogue with customers to fully understand how to best service their needs. It’s all about providing a consultative sales approach backed by ease of doing business.

“What’s more, with the PSTN switch-off fast approaching, it is clear channel partners must work to spark UK businesses’ digital imagination and help them understand how the move to IP can future-proof and unlock new opportunities. It’s the end of the line for PSTN, so If you’re not doing it, a competitor is already trying to.”

Engaging loyal and new customers

Marketing remains crucial for partners to grow customer bases and acquire new customers – the number one channel priority in 2022. For businesses, owned channels (such as social media or website) and earned media (such as media coverage and reviews) are the most important to them when looking for a provider. The website is particularly crucial – 60% of businesses agree – followed by online reviews (56%) and case studies (53%).

BT Wholesale developed research last year which revealed channel partners were finding it difficult to raise brand awareness and needed to increase marketing activity. Gavin Jones, added: “This new report further explores the opportunities in front of partners so they can fine tune their businesses to retain and attract new customers. Vital components are honing key messages, as well as having access to the right technology and support, all of which help to showcase partners’ unique capability to add value for existing and new customers.

“We’re committed to helping Partner Plus partners align their strategy with the opportunities in the current market. Through access to our innovative solutions portfolio, our dedicated propositions and marketing experts, and our out-of-the-box ready collateral, all our partners need to focus on is their customer relationships and the opportunities in front of them. It’s our job to help supercharge growth.”

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