There is more to being a trusted advisor on hosted voice services for business than first meets the eye – and both buyers and resellers themselves need to be aware of that
Early in Harper Lee’s famous novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, the character Atticus Finch says to his daughter, Scout (the narrator of the book): “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.” He’s trying to explain how the things that went wrong on Scout’s first day at school might have been avoided or made to turn out better.
This is a lesson can be applied to any aspect of business or life – and it’s a useful one to remember if you are either selecting a VoIP reseller or thinking of trying to become a reseller of hosted, IP-based voice services for business customers.
If you are thinking of investing in VoIP services for your business, you must understand that the primary reason that the reseller is in business – just like every commercial organisation – is to make a sustainable profit. They will, of course, only do this by delivering a good service that customers value, at a fair price.
But your choice should certainly not be made on the latter basis. There are many VoIP services available and they all offer a different range of features, reliability and performance. Your chosen VoIP reseller will have selected a services supplier to partner with only after a careful and considered research and assessment of the options available.
The criteria they will have used in doing this will not be vastly different from those you have used in selecting them; the reseller will need to be able to rely on their supplier to deliver a level of service, reliability and performance that will both meet the needs and expectations of their own customers?
The reseller will be asking, can I also make a reasonable amount of money out of providing this service? And this is an important factor for the end customer as well. You need you supplier – the company that will provide your VoIP system and support it, to be able to continue delivering a good standard of service to you. You need them to be making a profit.
The VoIP reseller meanwhile, always needs to be thinking about the customer’s perspective. This is not easy, as every customer will have different perceptions, concerns and needs. It’s important to be totally honest and as open as possible about what they can expect from a hosted voice service.
Of course, you will be expected to talk-up and actively sell the service you have decided to make available to your customers, but it is also important to ensure that the service will be entirely suitable for their needs as well. It has to be a service and a supplier you can trust, because your customers will be relying on it to work consistently and reliably, 24/7 – and your reputation with them will be dependent on it too.
It also has to be available at a fair price – one that they can afford and one that will sustain your business as a profitable and stable entity, because they will need you to be capable and available when they need help or support.
All of these factors also need to be considered when you are first assessing which business VoIP service to take to your customer base. Just as you must be able to see things from the customer’s perspective, they need to be ready to see things from your point of view. They need to be ready to back you and provide a pricing structure that is fair and works for everyone. They can’t reach out to the total available market without partners, so they need to give you a decent incentive.
Whether you are buying or selling a business VoIP service, considering these points will help you to make sure that things don’t go wrong on the first day of your new relationship. While the initiation of a new hosted voice implementation can’t really be compared to starting school, it’s certainly the case that on that first day, both the customer and the supplier really start to learn about each other and to find out what’s under their skin.
In Lee’s book, Scout has to go through some tough lessons before she finally understands what Atticus meant about seeing things from someone else’s point of view. But if you can manage to do that from day one when you take on or supply a new VoIP service, the chances of your story having a happy ending will be much better.