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As a managed service provider (MSP) or reseller, you have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing a cloud PBX provider. Often referred to as Internet Telephony Service Providers (ITSPs), there are over a 1,000 of them in North America alone. To make matters trickier for MSPs, almost all of them offer a channel or partner program.

With this much choice, it’s often difficult for partners to determine what they actually offer, who to resell, and why they should recommend the solution to customers. They can all look the same, yet, in reality, offer something very different. This often leads partners to feel they might not be providing their customers with the right solution or getting the best margins they could be.

In the following article, we’re going to take a look at the three tiers of ITSPs currently offering cloud PBX services; who they are, what they offer, and what to expect. This way you can pick a cloud PBX provider that is right for you and your customers. Let’s get started!

The Tier 1 ITSP

The Tier 1 ITSP is known primarily due to its size. These guys tend to be traditional telecom carriers that have gotten into cloud voice services, cable companies, or are publicly traded (or venture-backed) companies. They often have big brands, marketing budgets, sales staff, and commissions – but that doesn’t always mean they offer the best solution.

Due to their size, Tier 1 ITSPs often focus on large enterprises and large opportunities, meaning they’re designed with large customers in mind. Their solutions do tend to offer a high number of features, but they’re also accompanied by a high price tag. For smaller or medium-sized businesses (SMBs), paying for unnecessary features and add-ons can break the budget.

If you’re an MSP who primarily work with SMBs, you may find working with this type of cloud PBX provider frustrating. From the complexity of their solutions to their high costs, they can make for a tough sell with your target customer. Plus, when it comes to support, they’re not always equipped to quickly help smaller companies because they’re focused on the big ones. This means longer wait times and slower issue resolution.

The Tier 2 ITSP

The Tier 2 ITSP is sometimes overlooked by partners, but quite often provides the best combination of service and price. While they’re not exactly small operations, they’re not the blood-thirsty, “grow at all costs” companies that are found at the top tier.

For these cloud PBX providers, it’s all about ensuring customers have the most important features, at a competitive price. This makes them friendly to SMBs, and the partners that serve them. As they’re used to dealing with businesses with around 100 employees or less, they understand the unique needs of companies of that size.

Most Tier 2 ITSPs differentiate and pride themselves on customer experience and support. For example, Sherweb offers partners and their customers direct frontline support, backed by an industry leading SLA, that ensures minimum downtime or frustration. This is something SMBs, and busy partners, love.

The Tier 3 ITSP

The Tier 3 ITSP is typically categorized by their use of open source PBX software as the underlying technology powering their cloud PBX solution. This is not necessarily a bad thing – if you trust that the ITSP has very talented engineers that can quickly fix bugs and patch issues as they are discovered. Otherwise, you and your customers could be in for some painful issues.

This group of providers tend to be smaller, local, and/or regional players. They typically have small engineering and support teams, which can make it difficult for them to quickly respond to medium and larger customers. It sometimes even means small customers can’t get the support they need due to a lack of resources.

It’s not all bad for Tier 3 ITSPs. They do tend to offer the lowest cost service, which often makes them attractive to price-conscious customers and partners. That said, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. When it comes to cloud PBX services, you usually get what you pay for. Keep that in mind.

Which Tier is Right for You?

As you’ve seen, each of the tiers has their advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to choosing the right ITSP, you will have to consider who your customers are, what solutions they really need, how much support you’ll require, and obviously their partner program. This can be a tough decision for partners.

If you’re not sure which cloud PBX provider is right for you and your customer, we’d love to help. Contact us today or explore our Partner Guide for more information about how Sherweb can help your business.

Written by The Sherweb Team Collaborators @ Sherweb