Skyetel Relationship Pricing



  • So there has been a lot of discussion on this forum about our relationship pricing and I want to do my best and explain what it is, why we do it, and who can get it.

    To begin, I want to explain a few first principals around how Skyetel's cost structure work.

    1. Payroll is much more expensive than our carrier fees
      a. Support is much more expensive than our carrier interconnect fees & server hosting.
      b. Our Software Development team is 100% in house, on payroll and works full time for Skyetel. We do not outsource our development.
      c. LNP is also extremely expensive & time consuming

    2. Our interconnect rates are not static, change constantly, and have big fluctuations by the geography of our customers calling pattern.
      a. Alaska and Hawaii are more expensive than about 20% of our international locations
      b. Toll Free calls & all outbound calls have over 190k different prices - we even try and explain it in this guide: Skyetel LCR

    3. I cannot overstate how significant fraud is telecom. The last fraud event we had cost us nearly $10,000 in legal fees & required us to handle subpoenas, hand over records, and correspond with multiple federal agencies - all through expensive attorneys. (and this even was small compared to others I've seen).

    Now that I've explained how our costs work, let me explain our first principals and what kind of company we want to be.

    1. We prioritize customer service over everything. I'll let other ML readers jump in here if they want - but so far in April, our NPS is 95 and our ticket satisfaction is 9.75 out of 10.
    2. We want our customers to have excellent rates, and to be excited about using & referring us
    3. We want to a 100% clean network - no fraud, spammers or evil doers. (this is more significant than you may think - networks that cater to this group are huge and make a ton of money.)

    So those are our principals - now let me explain what we are trying to do with Relationship Pricing and how it works.

    1. In order to receive Relationship Pricing, you must be a technology company of some sort that offers technical services to your customer base. As part of getting Relationship Pricing, we ask that your customers, or the people you refer to us, contact you for support prior to contacting us. This allows FreePBX, FusionPBX, and other PBX experts to get their customer configured & setup, and saves us considerable support time. By saving us support time, we can offer reduced pricing; this is because the cost of support is built into our Retail Rates.

    2. You cannot be a fraudulent or spammy company. We get about 3-5 contact requests per day for people who are looking for wholesale rates for spam or fraud. These groups are pretty good about hiding who they really are and what they are actually doing. We've found a common denominator between them though - they won't call us and get to know us, and when they do, they call from Skype and try and hide their identity.

    3. We really do need to understand your needs. This sounds cliche, but it's legit. This is for these reasons:
      a. We need to understand your geography; are you calling Alaska, or Hawaii?
      b. Do you need significant international transit access?
      c. Are you selling significant conferencing services and need extremely high concurrency for a few numbers?
      d. Are you placing/receiving calls to Satellite phones?
      e. Do you sell services to the federal government?
      f. Do you do a lot of porting in/out or offer inventory services to other carriers
      g. etc... etc..

    4. You give us feedback. This is a big deal, and is really really valuable. A lot of our customers on relationship pricing keep in touch - I talk to about a dozen of our customers per day. They give us feature ideas and help tell us what their needs are. Almost all of our features we've released in the last year are suggestions from our customer base.

    So when you add all this up you find that a simple phone call allows us to get to know you, learn your a safe/trustworthy business, and tells us what our costs would be in providing service to you. We then figure out what price makes you happy, but keeps our lights on, and put you on those rates - it really is that easy.

    It also lets us customize rates specific to your business or to make unique arrangements for you to serve your needs. For example - if you are located in Hawaii, you will prioritize no audio delay and pristine transit routes over rock bottom prices; so thats what we deliver. Or if you are in Alaska, you typically need high deliverability to Canada.

    This is why we call it Relationship Pricing and not Wholesale

    The reason we have Retail pricing is for Small Business where they need a lot of support. Situations like an owner is technologically savvy and can put FreePBX on Digital Ocean and save his business a bundle, hobbyists, home users, and developers, etc. We want those groups as customers - but because they require significant support, features and documentation, we charge those groups our Retail rates. Additionally, it was important to us that a customer could simply sign up online and try us out without committing to anything and without talking to people on the phone. About 20% of our signups happen after hours.

    So the bottom line - our pricing model may be clunky, but it gives you the best of both worlds. If you are a reseller/wholesaler/MSP/nerd with friends/etc - you can just sign up online, test us out, and then call us and get more appropriate rates. If you just want phone service for your home or for your new app, you don't have to call us at all - just sign up. We have a ton of customers who spend less than $10/mo with us, and for them - calling in isn't worth it. It also protects us - we make sure our rates are fair for each customer, and it keeps our fraud very very low.

    I hope that clarifies it 🙂



  • OK - I like this post.

    I see now why Scott is OK with your setup.

    As mentioned in the other thread - a primary difference between Skyetel and the other vendors we at ML avoid is that other other vendors have zero pricing listing - as in no information about pricing what so ever. In Skyetel's case - you do have pricing listing, and it's pretty much in line with the other players I've looked at (which is nothing compared to JB's, but our needs are different).

    I'll admit I didn't look at your pricing before - like a 6 months ago - when Skyetel first was posted about here - I recall (though might be completely wrong on this) that it was 'said' that Skyetel's listed MSRP pricing was noticeably higher than the other mainstream vendors, but there was this 'relationship' pricing that was much better. That situation led me to join in the others bashing this setup.

    Now that I understand that this relationship pricing is really more toward the wholesale side of things (wholesalers also rarely provide tech support) it makes sense why that pricing isn't published.



  • As a consultant, I would repeatedly have to have this conversation with you for every client of mine that would choose this option.

    What an annoyance.

    If I was a reseller, sure, that is easy, I just sign up a new account under my reseller account and move one.

    But I'm not.



  • Now, To @JaredBusch's point, there was some lack notification about pre setup settings - but I'm glad to hear that Skyetel has already updated their webpages to inform people of these - though frankly - I think it could be much more in your face - or during account setup, it's required that one acknowledge those setting specifically that users can/will incur charges from OR change the default to a setting where there will be no charges.

    I can't imagine a customer being upset that upon setting up service they don't get those anti-spam services, etc - then upon learning then need/want them, they can go back and turn them on - and be notified of the service fee associated with those services. Charging the customer as little as possible (i.e. no extra services turned on by default) until the customer turns on costing features is definitely a more customer-centric view.



  • @JaredBusch said in Relationship Pricing:

    As a consultant, I would repeatedly have to have this conversation with you for every client of mine that would choose this option.

    What an annoyance.

    If I was a reseller, sure, that is easy, I just sign up a new account under my reseller account and move one.

    But I'm not.

    So you'd tell your client "I like this vendor for phone service, their pricing is goofy, but if you call them and setup an account they'll give you better pricing" ?

    And I understand the business stance from your point of view, you never want to have a bill sitting out there that your client is ultimately due for, so it makes sense to have them create the account and get billed directly for the minutes used.

    Rather than you having to bill the client for their minutes used at the end of a month or whatever.



  • @JaredBusch said in Relationship Pricing:

    As a consultant, I would repeatedly have to have this conversation with you for every client of mine that would choose this option.

    What an annoyance.

    We are a consultant and do this constantly, and don't have this. Because WE are the IT department, WE already had the conversation. And in fact, to Skyetel, working with NTG or Bundy over and over again reduces their overhead each time, because we know their system better, they know us better. So as the volume increases, the rate of overhead decreases (meaning... if we need one hour of support per year for 50 customers, we likely need only 70 minutes of support time a year for 100 customers and only 80 minutes for 200 customers and so on.) The bulk of our support needs come from the first setup that we do. It drops off fast.

    To add new customers to your pricing, because the IT relationship is already in place, takes like 30 seconds and no phone time spent. You just need your customer's account number, and just open a ticket to let Skyetel know that they are part of your group so get your pricing regime. I do this every few days, takes seconds. I don't have to "talk" to anyone. It's as easy as it would be to add the customer's account number to a spreadsheet.



  • @JaredBusch said in Relationship Pricing:

    As a consultant, I would repeatedly have to have this conversation with you for every client of mine that would choose this option.

    What an annoyance.

    If I was a reseller, sure, that is easy, I just sign up a new account under my reseller account and move one.

    But I'm not.

    That's a good question - @Skyetel what would be the process for @JaredBusch to onboard a new customer? As a none reseller - would you check each of his customers to see if they qualify for your above list and decide if they pay MSRP or get some lower rate?

    I do understand that the lower rate potential is completely based upon their calling style/destination, so I'm guessing that to get the best possible pricing JB would have to talk to someone on his customer's behalf each time he wanted to setup an account, or simply accept MSRP pricing.



  • @Dashrender said in Relationship Pricing:

    Now, To @JaredBusch's point, there was some lack notification about pre setup settings - but I'm glad to hear that Skyetel has already updated their webpages to inform people of these - though frankly - I think it could be much more in your face

    I don't think you'd want it more in your face. Jared is an extreme edge case and we are talking about a few cents. Almost all customers want CalledID and Spam blocking, I don't know any who don't except for Jared. It's totally valid for him to not want those, but it is super uncommon, to the point that it was a surprise that he didn't.



  • @Dashrender said in Relationship Pricing:

    That's a good question - @Skyetel what would be the process for @JaredBusch to onboard a new customer? As a none reseller - would you check each of his customers to see if they qualify for your above list and decide if they pay MSRP or get some lower rate?

    No, because Jared is doing that for them. 99% of the "checking" that they do is of Jared, not of the customer. What little bit of the customer needs to be checked, would be Jared doing it normally. Because they know what kinds of clients he has, he knows now to suddenly bring in a federal agency or an international spam house.



  • @Dashrender said in Relationship Pricing:

    I do understand that the lower rate potential is completely based upon their calling style/destination, so I'm guessing that to get the best possible pricing JB would have to talk to someone on his customer's behalf each time he wanted to setup an account, or simply accept MSRP pricing.

    If they needed super awesome pricing for a unique need that is different from Jared's. Then yes, but that would always be a unique conversation with any vendor anywhere. Just like with, for example, Microsoft.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Relationship Pricing:

    To add new customers to your pricing, because the IT relationship is already in place, takes like 30 seconds and no phone time spent. You just need your customer's account number, and just open a ticket to let Skyetel know that they are part of your group so get your pricing regime. I do this every few days, takes seconds. I don't have to "talk" to anyone. It's as easy as it would be to add the customer's account number to a spreadsheet.

    Not sure this is right. I suppose it's possible - but I could see Skyetel wanting all of the above listed information for each new customer because the pricing would be based upon those metrics.

    Let's say all of your customers to date are continental US only, with rare if ever international/Alaska/Hawaii calls - the rate these customers get could be super low. But now, you want to bring in a client that calls Hawaii/Alaska daily, etc - they likely can't get the same rate - if they did Skyetel could end up losing money on that customer.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Relationship Pricing:

    @Dashrender said in Relationship Pricing:

    That's a good question - @Skyetel what would be the process for @JaredBusch to onboard a new customer? As a none reseller - would you check each of his customers to see if they qualify for your above list and decide if they pay MSRP or get some lower rate?

    No, because Jared is doing that for them. 99% of the "checking" that they do is of Jared, not of the customer. What little bit of the customer needs to be checked, would be Jared doing it normally. Because they know what kinds of clients he has, he knows now to suddenly bring in a federal agency or an international spam house.

    I think you are missing the point, that I believe @JaredBusch does, which is he has his clients go out to a vendor like @Skyetel and register their own account and pay the bill directly. He just punches in the details into the PBX for the customer once the account is active.

    Correct @JaredBusch ?



  • @Dashrender said in Relationship Pricing:

    Not sure this is right. I suppose it's possible

    I do this all the time. I know how it works 🙂



  • @DustinB3403 said in Relationship Pricing:

    @scottalanmiller said in Relationship Pricing:

    @Dashrender said in Relationship Pricing:

    That's a good question - @Skyetel what would be the process for @JaredBusch to onboard a new customer? As a none reseller - would you check each of his customers to see if they qualify for your above list and decide if they pay MSRP or get some lower rate?

    No, because Jared is doing that for them. 99% of the "checking" that they do is of Jared, not of the customer. What little bit of the customer needs to be checked, would be Jared doing it normally. Because they know what kinds of clients he has, he knows now to suddenly bring in a federal agency or an international spam house.

    I think you are missing the point, that I believe @JaredBusch does, which is he has his clients go out to a vendor like @Skyetel and register their own account and pay the bill directly. He just punches in the details into the PBX for the customer once the account is active.

    Correct @JaredBusch ?

    That's exactly how I'm expecting Jared to do it. He's identical to us, and we do this regularly. I did it yesterday. Everything I said is based on that.



  • @DustinB3403 said in Relationship Pricing:

    @JaredBusch said in Relationship Pricing:

    As a consultant, I would repeatedly have to have this conversation with you for every client of mine that would choose this option.

    What an annoyance.

    If I was a reseller, sure, that is easy, I just sign up a new account under my reseller account and move one.

    But I'm not.

    So you'd tell your client "I like this vendor for phone service, their pricing is goofy, but if you call them and setup an account they'll give you better pricing" ?

    And I understand the business stance from your point of view, you never want to have a bill sitting out there that your client is ultimately due for, so it makes sense to have them create the account and get billed directly for the minutes used.

    Rather than you having to bill the client for their minutes used at the end of a month or whatever.

    In my case - I made the accounts for my clients.. then I setup the email notices to go directly to the billing people at the client and gave the logons needed to the clients so they could pay the bill. The client themselves never talked to the telco provider - that was all me.
    I'm guessing JB does the same.



  • @Dashrender said in Relationship Pricing:

    Let's say all of your customers to date are continental US only, with rare if ever international/Alaska/Hawaii calls - the rate these customers get could be super low. But now, you want to bring in a client that calls Hawaii/Alaska daily, etc - they likely can't get the same rate - if they did Skyetel could end up losing money on that customer.

    That's true, if you are assuming a really aggressive pricing structure for you based on a deep use case, and not stock relationship pricing as a starting point. There is a price point for normal relationship, and then there is aggressive negotiating for something better based on extremely specific use cases. Keep those ideas separate, because SMBs don't do the latter, ever. Not with Skyetel, not with Microsoft. So while they have that (everyone does), it really doesn't apply to anyone here.



  • @Dashrender said in Relationship Pricing:

    @DustinB3403 said in Relationship Pricing:

    @JaredBusch said in Relationship Pricing:

    As a consultant, I would repeatedly have to have this conversation with you for every client of mine that would choose this option.

    What an annoyance.

    If I was a reseller, sure, that is easy, I just sign up a new account under my reseller account and move one.

    But I'm not.

    So you'd tell your client "I like this vendor for phone service, their pricing is goofy, but if you call them and setup an account they'll give you better pricing" ?

    And I understand the business stance from your point of view, you never want to have a bill sitting out there that your client is ultimately due for, so it makes sense to have them create the account and get billed directly for the minutes used.

    Rather than you having to bill the client for their minutes used at the end of a month or whatever.

    In my case - I made the accounts for my clients.. then I setup the email notices to go directly to the billing people at the client and gave the logons needed to the clients so they could pay the bill. The client themselves never talked to the telco provider - that was all me.
    I'm guessing JB does the same.

    That can happen. I guarantee that Jared is like NTG and sometimes customers do this and sometimes we do. Depends on who they want to hold the credit card.



  • @Dashrender said in Relationship Pricing:

    @DustinB3403 said in Relationship Pricing:

    @JaredBusch said in Relationship Pricing:

    As a consultant, I would repeatedly have to have this conversation with you for every client of mine that would choose this option.

    What an annoyance.

    If I was a reseller, sure, that is easy, I just sign up a new account under my reseller account and move one.

    But I'm not.

    So you'd tell your client "I like this vendor for phone service, their pricing is goofy, but if you call them and setup an account they'll give you better pricing" ?

    And I understand the business stance from your point of view, you never want to have a bill sitting out there that your client is ultimately due for, so it makes sense to have them create the account and get billed directly for the minutes used.

    Rather than you having to bill the client for their minutes used at the end of a month or whatever.

    In my case - I made the accounts for my clients.. then I setup the email notices to go directly to the billing people at the client and gave the logons needed to the clients so they could pay the bill. The client themselves never talked to the telco provider - that was all me.
    I'm guessing JB does the same.

    That's weird though, it means the end client has no choice in who they use unless there is a conversation about SIP providers and then makes a decision. Possible that occurs, but just weird.

    Rather I'd expect the conversation to be "I'd recommend any of this SIP providers, setup an account with X and get back to me with the details".



  • For clarity's sake - @scottalanmiller is correct. The "Relationship" is with NTG - so the NTG pricing applies to their customers. All Scott does is put in a ticket with the account information for his customer, and our support department handles the rest (updates the NTG customer's rates). It takes 30 seconds.

    The only exception is if that customer turns out to be fraudster or randomly started calling really really expensive places or gets hacked all the time. In those cases, we'd call NTG about it since we have a Relationship and address the issue. That has never happened before though - so its not something to worry about.



  • @DustinB3403 said in Relationship Pricing:

    @Dashrender said in Relationship Pricing:

    @DustinB3403 said in Relationship Pricing:

    @JaredBusch said in Relationship Pricing:

    As a consultant, I would repeatedly have to have this conversation with you for every client of mine that would choose this option.

    What an annoyance.

    If I was a reseller, sure, that is easy, I just sign up a new account under my reseller account and move one.

    But I'm not.

    So you'd tell your client "I like this vendor for phone service, their pricing is goofy, but if you call them and setup an account they'll give you better pricing" ?

    And I understand the business stance from your point of view, you never want to have a bill sitting out there that your client is ultimately due for, so it makes sense to have them create the account and get billed directly for the minutes used.

    Rather than you having to bill the client for their minutes used at the end of a month or whatever.

    In my case - I made the accounts for my clients.. then I setup the email notices to go directly to the billing people at the client and gave the logons needed to the clients so they could pay the bill. The client themselves never talked to the telco provider - that was all me.
    I'm guessing JB does the same.

    That's weird though, it means the end client has no choice in who they use unless there is a conversation about SIP providers and then makes a decision. Possible that occurs, but just weird.

    Rather I'd expect the conversation to be "I'd recommend any of this SIP providers, setup an account with X and get back to me with the details".

    That's often what we do. And screen share to do the setup if they need help, but they rarely do.



  • @DustinB3403 said in Relationship Pricing:

    @Dashrender said in Relationship Pricing:

    @DustinB3403 said in Relationship Pricing:

    @JaredBusch said in Relationship Pricing:

    As a consultant, I would repeatedly have to have this conversation with you for every client of mine that would choose this option.

    What an annoyance.

    If I was a reseller, sure, that is easy, I just sign up a new account under my reseller account and move one.

    But I'm not.

    So you'd tell your client "I like this vendor for phone service, their pricing is goofy, but if you call them and setup an account they'll give you better pricing" ?

    And I understand the business stance from your point of view, you never want to have a bill sitting out there that your client is ultimately due for, so it makes sense to have them create the account and get billed directly for the minutes used.

    Rather than you having to bill the client for their minutes used at the end of a month or whatever.

    In my case - I made the accounts for my clients.. then I setup the email notices to go directly to the billing people at the client and gave the logons needed to the clients so they could pay the bill. The client themselves never talked to the telco provider - that was all me.
    I'm guessing JB does the same.

    That's weird though, it means the end client has no choice in who they use unless there is a conversation about SIP providers and then makes a decision. Possible that occurs, but just weird.

    Rather I'd expect the conversation to be "I'd recommend any of this SIP providers, setup an account with X and get back to me with the details".

    Of course they have the choice - but in so many of these cases - they simply ask their consultant - who do you use? As mentioned in the other thread - we are paid for our advice, not as a VAR, we aren't reselling anything, so we are offering the best advice as the advocate of the client. So of course I say - I suggest this telco provider. The client can always say - no, I don't want them, please use blah instead - and I will. Assuming a relationship with blah doesn't already exist, it's likely that I'll be the one setting up the accounts with blah, just like I would be for the vendor I suggested. Of course, if the client wants to setup the account themselves, they are more than welcome to.



  • @Skyetel said in Relationship Pricing:

    For clarity's sake - @scottalanmiller is correct. The "Relationship" is with NTG - so the NTG pricing applies to their customers. All Scott does is put in a ticket with the account information for his customer, and our support department handles the rest (updates the NTG customer's rates). It takes 30 seconds.

    The only exception is if that customer turns out to be fraudster or randomly started calling really really expensive places or gets hacked all the time. In those cases, we'd call NTG about it since we have a Relationship and address the issue. That has never happened before though - so its not something to worry about.

    Ok, so the rates aren't so cutrate that you're really worried about a massively different type of use client is brought on board by NTG, etc. That does make it much easier than.

    The clients that NTG brings you each get their own account number and billing statements directly to themselves, right?



  • @Dashrender said in Relationship Pricing:

    Now, To @JaredBusch's point, there was some lack notification about pre setup settings - but I'm glad to hear that Skyetel has already updated their webpages to inform people of these - though frankly - I think it could be much more in your face - or during account setup, it's required that one acknowledge those setting specifically that users can/will incur charges from OR change the default to a setting where there will be no charges.

    I can't imagine a customer being upset that upon setting up service they don't get those anti-spam services, etc - then upon learning then need/want them, they can go back and turn them on - and be notified of the service fee associated with those services. Charging the customer as little as possible (i.e. no extra services turned on by default) until the customer turns on costing features is definitely a more customer-centric view.

    We will actually be adding it to the Port In email so that new customers know to modify their numbers prior to them going into service.

    The reason those features are on by default is as follows:

    1. Caller ID - When it was disabled by default, we actually got a lot of complaints from our users that "Caller ID" didn't work. (Remember not all of our users are VoIP Experts and understand how SIP Trunking works!)
    2. Spam Block typically pays for itself - it reduces your inbound traffic volume by about 10% on published numbers. So the cost to have it enabled is roughly equal to the cost to leaving it disabled. In March, it blocked 10.1% of inbound calls when enabled - so its really really powerful.


  • @Dashrender said in Relationship Pricing:

    @Skyetel said in Relationship Pricing:

    For clarity's sake - @scottalanmiller is correct. The "Relationship" is with NTG - so the NTG pricing applies to their customers. All Scott does is put in a ticket with the account information for his customer, and our support department handles the rest (updates the NTG customer's rates). It takes 30 seconds.

    The only exception is if that customer turns out to be fraudster or randomly started calling really really expensive places or gets hacked all the time. In those cases, we'd call NTG about it since we have a Relationship and address the issue. That has never happened before though - so its not something to worry about.

    Ok, so the rates are so cutrate that you're really worried about a massively different type of use client is brought on board by NTG, etc. That does make it much easier than.

    The clients that NTG brings you each get their own account number and billing statements directly to themselves, right?

    Correct - they use their own Credit Card, and have complete access to our portal. There is no re-billing. We just expect that support tickets come from NTG and not the customer directly.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Relationship Pricing:

    Almost all customers want CalledID

    I've never stated I do not want CallerID services. But I prefer not to pay for it on every call.

    Services like OpenCNAM are much better, because FreePBX can be set to not perform a lookup on ever call.

    Sure it is only $0.008 (OpenCNAM) or $0.004 (Skyetel) per call, but it adds up.

    250,000 inbound calls per year * $0.004 = $1,000
    250,000 inbound calls per year * $0.008 = $2,000

    But with the second one there, I only perform a lookup once every 30 days for numbers that call me.

    Edit: I am fairly busy today, but I can pull numbers on this to compare inbound calls to OpenCNAM usage.



  • @Dashrender said in Relationship Pricing:

    The clients that NTG brings you each get their own account number and billing statements directly to themselves, right?

    Correct. We might get a login to see their biling, we might not. but it is their account.



  • @JaredBusch said in Relationship Pricing:

    But with the second one there, I only perform a lookup once every 30 days for numbers that call me.

    Is this because FreePBX caches the info?



  • @Dashrender said in Relationship Pricing:

    @JaredBusch said in Relationship Pricing:

    But with the second one there, I only perform a lookup once every 30 days for numbers that call me.

    Is this because FreePBX caches the info?

    Yes, but any system can be setup that way.