A hot topic at the Intermedia Partner Summit yesterday was hosted PBX. The company pushed the 100 VAR and MSP partners in attendance to move beyond bread-and-butter hosted Microsoft Exchange deployments. Indeed, Intermedia Product Marketing Manager Laura Sankey made a convincing case for the channel potential of hosted VoIP. But when hosted PBX opportunity calls, will Intermedia partners pick up?

Sankey started her pitch with the feature lineup of the Intermedia hosted PBX solution, most of which we knew already: it integrates fully with the Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) platforms to provide true Microsoft Lync-style floating presence, click-to-call and "Find Me/Follow Me" functionality with no new software for end-users to learn. And it's white-label, to boot, allowing partners to brand it as their own. Sankey promoted the solution as a natural way to extend a partner's "trusted advisor" function.

Of course, a large part of making the sale is choosing the right opportunity. And Sankey said that there were two major customer types that were especially likely to make the switch to a hosted PBX: those looking to completely replace their phone service, and very small businesses looking to boost their own profile with customers.

The former, Sankey said, should be approached within 60 to 90 days of their current telco contract's expiration, right when they might be looking for something better. That's when they'll be easier to sell on those productivity-boosting integrations and features while also reaping the benefits of cutting down on the number of providers they do business with. And if said customer is opening a new office or expanding with more employees in new roles, well, she says, even better, since VoIP can cut down on wiring.

The latter, though -- those small businesses (startups, single-person companies, etc.) desirous of a more professional public face -- are working on free tools like Skype and Google Voice and their cell phone. A hosted Intermedia PBX solution can cost-effectively help them move calls between coworkers and save sales opportunities by making sure they never miss a call. And Sankey posits that they don't want to deal with multiple carriers, either.

As for revenue opportunities, Sankey says that there's no shortage for MSPs no matter the customer. You can: resell the IP phones themselves and charge for their installation and configuration; promote hardware sales of new routers, modems, or channel banks to get them VoIP ready; focus on bandwidth services; and charge configuration, including assigning extensions and hunt groups.

In short: Intermedia's hosted PBX is designed to be easy to set up, but Sankey says the opportunity for custom configuration and deployment can translate into potential one-time and recurring revenue both for a savvy partner.

TalkinCloud Editorial Director Joe Panettieri has some additional perspective on the Intermedia hosted PBX channel push over on MSPmentor. But make sure to come back here for more insights from the Intermedia Partner Conference.

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