Tips on Making Profits Selling VoIP Solutions
6½ Mistakes to Avoid When Selling VoIP
1. Don't serve up alphabet soup- Real customer communication is more than acronyms
Telephony technology is full of acronyms. You may know what you mean when you talk about DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) and DECT (Digital European Cordless Telecommunications) but your customer, the SMB owner, considering this major purchase may be overwhelmed and confused. Worse still, they may be too proud to admit this lack of knowledge. As a result you may miss an opportunity to discover what the client really needs from their new system and so what extra things you could sell them.
In a world of IT and telecoms professionals where there is a short acronym for everything and very few explanations, you will stand out as a true expert if you say clearly what you really mean.
2. One size does not fit all - Offer products based on your client's needs
There is no problem without a solution. It is your job to listen carefully to your client as they describe their business and its practices so you can determine what they actually need instead of what you assume you can sell them. And don't offer them a product based on their current broad band. Make sure they up-grade their Internet connection to match the job to be done, and not vice versa.
For instance, a growing company that has various telephony-connected devices that operate in analog mode (e.g. a building security alarm, credit card machines, fax machines) will need an IP PBX solution that can accommodate fax lines and their regular plain old phones.
Other companies want to make a large number of concurrent calls, have sophisticated call routing and voice prioritization features, and a system that links their tradition PBX traffic to the Internet. They will benefit from a gateway product that offers greater capacity, gives good sound quality and can be integrated with other applications.
3. Offer a complete solution - Sell more than just features and savings on long distance call
Make your sales pitch have real meaning. Tell your client what a feature really does and why it's important for them to have it to accomplish their business goals. For instance:
Quadro feature: There are more FXO ports.
Customer benefit: The FXO (regular analog telephone) ports make it possible for you to continue using your existing analog phones, fax machines and other analog devices. This way you can integrate the features of a new, IP telephone system with equipment you already have.
Quadro feature: You can buy keys in 16-port increments.
Customer benefit: Buying keys to increase the number of available ports is an inexpensive way to add more capacity (= internal telephone lines) to your system. Your phone system can grow with your business, without having to buy additional hardware.
Quadro feature: There is a built-in capacity for failover calling.
Customer benefit: We can configure your system to default to your traditional land line in case your Internet connection fails. This means that people in your office will still be able to make some calls until the connection is restored.
4. Always be prepared - A good installation plan will make the configuration of the system much easier for you and your client.
Choose your options; a quiet weekend on the lake or golf course or 48 hours in your client's offices trying to discover what went wrong with their deployment. Good planning makes the difference here, although many people in the industry say that good pre-installation planning is unusual.
First and foremost: get trained on the product you're selling the customer. No-one wants to see their IT professional' take the equipment out of the box and then act like he's never handled one before. Knowledge is indeed power - get some.
In the meantime, here's a handy checklist of other key elements that make a successful deployment:
Engineer the LAN to limit latency to below 200ms.
Have a protocol that recognizes and prioritizes voice packets.
Use full duplex, non-blocking switches.
Install business grade routers, cable & related hardware.
Use voice-capable modems without firewall.
Deploy quality IP or analog phones.
Arrange for business class DSL (or upgrade to ISDN or E1/T1, if possible).
Ensure that the Internet service is connected to a private backbone.
Install quality IP PBX hardware.
5. Be safe and secure - More security now means fewer regrets later
In a recent study among a group of VoIP users in the US, 40% of the respondents said they did not have specific plans to secure their VoIP deployments.
The endpoints of your client's VoIP system are vulnerable to attack. Among those areas that are now vulnerable to unauthorized access, viruses and worms are: operating systems, Internet protocols, applications and management interfaces of VoIP phones, desk-top computers and laptops running softphones.
It sounds scary however, it also means that there is a lucrative market for those who sell VoIP security products and services to their customers. Network security has to be part of a successful deployment. You can be a hero to your client by offering them the protection they need.
6. Plug and Play does not mean Install and Leave - Be there for the change over and train the end-user
There are few things more traumatizing for employees than the changeover to a new system. Add to that the fact that VoIP phones may require special attention to function in a manner that is familiar to the new user. You may have installed a great solution for your client's communication needs and you may have done your homework for the configuration, but don't assume that the people who will be using the equipment will be able to understand how to use all the new features without help. (And don't assume that anyone from their IT or facilities department will have trained them either.) Have your technician in the client's office for the first day to make sure that the system is functioning and offer to train a couple of key people in the company who can then help others adjust to the new technology.
6 ½. If you sell only boxes, you are missing the chance to make much more money
Congratulations. You've really listened to your customer's communication needs and explained to him effectively the best solution and why it's the best for his business. You've planned and executed a successful installment with a minimum of disruption and you've offered knowledge and reassurance to the new end-users who are using the new equipment for the first time on the Monday morning. You are a VoIP hero and your name will be a legend, but other than the thanks of a grateful customer and their great recommendations to their friends, what more is in it for you?
You cannot make good living just selling boxes; you can earn much more by selling packages that give you an ongoing future revenue stream while providing your happy client with continuing services and upgrades.
Money making scenario:
Charge fees to evaluate and prepare your client's network for the VoIP installation. Supply the voice hardware, Internet access and customization of features in the form of a monthly fee instead of a one-off charge. Training new users, and network acceleration and optimization can be written into the plan, as well as providing Voice security applications and services.
Your client gets a complete communications support plan with personal attention that can prevent problems and you get a regular check every month for years. Profits go to those who plan.