Q&A with Stephen Corrigan, former 3CX Director of Sales

3cx3CX has a great product. That is how we want to preface our discussion of 3CX and its changing business practices. There is no point in beating around the bush or denying the obvious. Their Windows-based PBX fills a unique need and seems to work well.

The 3CX business model is another story. But we will leave the telling of that story to Stephen Corrigan, former Director of Sales for 3CX.

stephen-corrigan-interviewQ: What was your job at 3CX?

SC: I began my career at 3CX as a Channel Manager, responsible for the UK market, rising to the position of Sales Director with global responsibility for growing the VAR channel. Latterly moving to the USA as General Manager and Vice President of Sales, tasked with establishing a direct local presence and opening the 3CX office in Dallas, TX. Tasked with managing business in the USA, recruitment and training of staff, and revenue growth.

Q: How long did you work there?

SC: I enjoyed six and a half successful years at 3CX.

Q: What was the 3CX business model like?

SC: Interesting question. The business model changed over the years, from exclusively 100% channel-focused to a mix of channel and direct engagement.

Q: What do you mean by “direct engagement”?

SC: There seems to be more of a focus on the end users today than there ever was before.

I am a firm believer in the channel and work to provide the channel with the tools, technologies, support and services to make their business a success.

Let me give you one example. While I was at 3CX, it was not possible for 3CX end user customers to order directly from 3CX. All sales transactions had to go through a partner. Yet we see today that 3CX end user customers can directly order maintenance, upgrades etc. from 3CX. Anything except new licenses, as of today.

Q: How does this affect 3CX partners?

SC: People have started recognizing that 3CX is not very partner-friendly and that 3CX will take their business away from them.

There are any number of channel parters selling 3CX in your local area right now. These are all competition to you as you have to promote the 3CX brand to your opportunities. You work hard to win over a prospect and then have to tell them the product is 3CX. That prospect is going to walk out of your office and go look up 3CX. He is going to find out he can get a free license for a year and wonder why he should pay you for something that is free.

Worse yet, all of your competitors are listed publicly on the 3CX website. So when you introduce 3CX into the opportunities that you have worked hard to nurture, what is the first thing they are going to do? Research a bit more about 3CX and uncover your competitors on their website. This is not a smart move!

Wouldn’t it be much better to build your own brand, deliver advanced Voice and Unified Communications services to your customers with your own brand, promote your own brand, not that of the manufacturer? This is what builds loyalty and value in your business.

Let me give you one more example: To receive free updates your customer has to have a valid maintenance contract with 3CX. To activate the maintenance contract you are obliged to provide full end user details, including contact details. Why? These are YOUR customers, not the manufacturer’s. Working with your customers is what pays your bills and adds value to your business. And as we see, your customers can now upgrade and renew their maintenance directly from 3CX. This is a threat to your business.

Q: Did anything else contribute to your decision to leave 3CX?

SC: 3CX was, and is, predominantly architectured for on-premise deployments

But the market is always changing, with new pressures and challenges faced by our biggest resource, our channel partners. Back in late 2013 the signs were obvious that their was a seismic shift in how Voice and Unified Communications were being delivered to the market. We were seeing the advent of Cloud Telephony, and I was being lobbied by the channel to provide our channel partners these options.

My aim was to provide our channel partners with a fully managed Cloud infrastructure upon which our partners could build their sales and business. Unfortunately this approach was not accepted.

Voice and Unified Communications have many unique requirements and demands when delivering over the Cloud. And as good and useful as services such as Amazon AWS and Google Cloud are, they are not well equipped to deliver the real-time services demanded by Voice and UC.

Ultimately 3CX were not willing to make the investment necessary for our partners to compete successfully in this new space.

Q: When you speak with 3CX customers now, what do they say?

SC: By and large 3CX partners still like the product. The issue that the overwhelming majority have is dealing with 3CX and their business model.

3CX is all about 3CX. All about building the 3CX brand. That is okay, but how does this help their partners build value in their own businesses?

Q: Do you know of any 3CX partners that have left? Why?

SC: Yes, many of the friends that I speak to have stopped providing 3CX.

There is a growing uneasiness in three areas:

1. 3CX is unable to deliver the robust, high quality Cloud solution that the market is demanding. We are seeing Cloud services growing while on-premise is stabilizing, if not declining.

2. The changing business model of 3CX with direct end user customer engagement is seen as a threat to the partner’s own business.

3. The lack of being unable to brand the 3CX product with your own brand image is akin to acting as a sales agent for 3CX, building value in the 3CX brand, not yours. Surely it should be the other way around?

Q: Looking back, was leaving 3CX the right decision?

SC: Yes, for sure. I get real satisfaction from working with partners and seeing their business, their brand, becoming more successful and seeing their value growing.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to 3CX customers right now, what would it be?

SC: Look beyond the product. Given the maturity of technology today, there is really very little difference in what different products deliver. Look at how easy working with your provider is – are they willing to go that extra mile? Look at the business model – is it all about the manufacturer? Look at how the company can help you grow, help you succeed, and help you!

To hear more from Stephen, read his blog post: Reasons to move from 3CX (and other IP PBX systems) to Bicom Systems… I did

Or contact Stephen directly at sc@bicomsystems.com.