Why Is Everyone So Hesitant About Voice Products?


There is a lot of buzz about the cloud. Virtual is the new way of doing things. I even wrote about it in my last blog because it's not something we can ignore as we grow our businesses. We tend to focus on the hottest and newest products because that is what grabs the attention of our clients. We strive to be trained and on-board new carriers that offer exciting new services, and yet last year TBI sold over 100,000 POTS lines. Plain old telephone service. How can that be?

We all talk about the benefit of applications, or reducing risk and cost by virtualizing servers. Partners sell CRM services that build efficiencies. People offer RFP consulting. There are new data centers being built or filled. Technology changes, but the principle remains the same: Traffic needs to travel from Point A to Point B without disruption and it needs to be available. Here are some examples:

Everyone migrated from private line to frame relay. Then frame relay became MPLS. And now Ethernet is replacing that. It's all still private networking.

Hosting was all the rage! How many racks? How much power? Can the data center take care of your server? Now it's either virtual cloud server or private cloud server. But it's not your server; it's still hosting.

However, what seems to remain taboo is voice service. People don't like to sell it, people don't like to buy it, and if they do buy it, they prefer old tried-and-true technology. Voice is a mission-critical application. Voice over IP (VoIP) and the problems with it really scared a lot of customers, hence our partners making a fortune on commissions for POTS lines last year. Magic Jack and Vonage did not help move the VoIP revolution. Their quality was so bad and their price was so low, it frightened most customers away from any new voice offering. XO offered one of the first Integrated T-1 Internet and voice packages. They called it VoIP. We couldn't sell it. XO changed the name to integrated access service, and it was one of its most successful product rollouts in its history.

Here is the irony: Carriers convert to data, transport it, and then convert it back to analog anyway.

We recommend asking your customers what their voice strategy is. There are new and old options, and we can get them all. The most important part is that they are comfortable with the expectations set.

Here are 7 tips when executing voice solutions:

• Don't count out the cable companies. They are now a strong player in PRI and POTS service. Your customer can keep the same equipment and still get voice service, just through the cable companies. It is also on a completely different network for redundancy.

• Using the customer's WAN in a hosted solution where we sell by the seat can save money. Voice going over a private network would have better quality and would be more secure. Commissions would be paid on the hosted voice service running over the WAN.

• Whole phone systems can be replaced or saved. Each is a concern to the client. New systems have added features like Unified Communications, outlook integration and find-me follow-me features, and can be a sales opportunity to the partner, especially partners that sell phone systems.

• Aggregators are buying and simplifying the billing across all RBOC territories. This is also an opportunity to make a healthy commission for the partner.

• Remember that voice is critical to business, and a real-time application.

• Be sensitive to the fears of your clients, but don't ignore it because they fear change.

• Ask your client what their voice strategy is. Chances are TBI can come up with multiple solutions for you.

We would like to teach you more about how to help your customers migrate and improve their voice strategy.

You can contact us at tbicom.com/partners.

You can reach Ken Mercer at ken@tbicom.com.

Sponsored by Telecom Brokerage, Inc.