Several months back I wrote a post titled, “VoIP – Choosing the Right Provider for Your Inside Sales Team.” The post not only turned out to be popular, but actually generated quite a bit of traffic for one of the companies I referred to. The popularity of the post, the feedback I received from it, and what I learned while I was researching and writing it got me thinking more about VoIP, new features and how they can play more deeply into a company’s selling strategy.
We sell Lead Management/ CRM software focused on appointment setting, prospecting and selling by phone. As an added feature, we dial over most PBXs and VoIP providers in the world today. As you might imagine, our team is often asked who we recommend, why we recommend them, and how much they cost. Only a few years ago, VoIP was all about one thing: price. The two most prevalent questions asked were: “Is it free?” or “How cheap can I get it?” A lot of great things have changed for VoIP providers in the last few years and new features are readily available. Sadly, these pesky questions still remain and are top-of-mind for businesses looking for VoIP- how cheap, how fast and how easy?
I contend that many businesses seeking a VoIP provider are looking at it a bit upside down. Instead of asking how cheap, how fast and how easy, they should be asking, “What does $10 or $15 more a month buy me? What features can they offer me that will impact my sales and actually increase my bottom line?
If you can save $10 per user per month, it will never amount to more than the $10 you saved. On the other hand, an investment in a VoIP solution may give you important feature sets that directly impact your sales people. Better service, quality, and control of the calling process is worth a heck of a lot more than 10 bucks a month. Quality of connection alone can be the difference between making or losing a sale. Who wants to hear from a salesperson who sounds like they are talking into a tin can with a string attached?
We work directly with several VoIP providers, but for the purpose of this post I am going to talk about two: Fonality and Connect Me Voice. Both of these companies work closely with VanillaSoft customers and each offer unique advantages in the marketplace.
Connect Me Voice can get businesses up and running quickly, has very competitive pricing, and can offer solutions for one seat and up. Additionally, they are quick and nimble when it comes to developing features that directly benefit a sales team. Case in point: Connect Me Voice engaged directly with the team at VanillaSoft, listened to us articulate the needs of our customers, and within weeks developed “Message Drop” for us and for their customers. Message Drop allows a salesperson to record their own message in their own voice. The moment they detect a answering machine or voice mail they can hit one button and drop their prerecorded message into that prospects box and move on to the next call while the message is being dropped. For sales people that are making a ton of calls per day and leaving a large number of messages, this is not only a great time-saver; it is the perfect feature to ensure that each and every sales message is a perfect one.
Fonality has one of the most unique offerings in the marketplace. (Full disclosure, VanillaSoft is a Fonality customer.) We chose Fonality because they offer HUD (Heads Up Display), which is a graphically rich feature set that allows us to see all of our employees and call queues. We can chat and effortlessly move calls between groups or individuals. As a company that has employees in two countries, some of whom are remote and mobile, HUD allowed us to have a unified communication platform from a single provider. If we had been looking for free or for something for really cheap, we would not have chosen a provider like Fonality. However, the small additional cost per user per month is easily offset by the incredible time savings gained by HUD and the masterful feature set it offers.
I mentioned two companies here because I know these companies well. There are plenty of providers out there. My recommendation for how to search is the same for VoIP as it is for the product we sell, Lead Management Software. Don’t start your search looking for free or cheap. Start by researching all of the features that are available today and try your best to place a value on those features. I think you will find, like we did, that a few more bucks per month can buy quite a bit of value. Remember, cheap often times comes with a big price.