VoIP describes the actual method of transmitting voice over an IP network; IP telephony (IPT) describes telephony devices that use IP as the native transport for voice and call signaling. IP telephony needs VoIP to send calls over the network; VoIP does not need IP telephony. An IP network that supports voice (telephony), video and data with proper quality-of-service features is also referred to as a “converged network.” Resellers that know their customer base will have a mechanism, like a CRM system, to keep track of what telephone equipment their customers are currently using, how long the equipment has been installed and when it is time to get in touch with decision-makers to discuss making a change.
Besides identifying aging equipment, there are other ways to tell when a customer may be ready to make the move to a VoIP phone system:
1. New Construction
Resellers should take note of business construction, whether it is a new business being built or an existing business adding space. In many cases, these businesses will be in the market for IP telephony in order to save costs on wiring, installation, and maintenance. It is generally cost-prohibitive to install TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) technology in new locations and growing companies are most likely doing well and prefer to use the latest, greatest communications tools to maintain their competitive edge.
2. Multiple Locations
Businesses that have or are adding multiple locations are good candidates for IPT. Using VoIP, locations can be tied together over the data network so that users can dial extension numbers instead of telephone numbers to reach someone in another location. Locations can share voice messaging systems and directories, benefit from centralized administration and log in at any phone in any location to bring their phone features with them.
3. Disaster Recovery
For companies with multiple sites, the use of VoIP can allow for the implemetation of business continuity and disaster recovery. Call processing controllers can be geographically dispersed and clustered for failover. A well-designed and implemented IP telephony network could allow for calls to roll over to another office during an emergency. Employees can even work from their homes utilizing an IP softphone and a VPN connection to give them the functionality they get at their desks.
Improved productivity can positively affect a company’s bottom line. Some of the most commonly reported productivity-enhancing VoIP features are as follows:
- Find Me/Follow Me – This feature is set by individual end-users. Find Me/Follow Me allows for call routing based on the user’s requirements or availability. As an example, a user can set their extension to ring their desk phone twice before attempting to reach the user on their cell phone, at their home number or both. “Simultaneous ring” is also available to ring several phones at once. This and similar features are typically controlled via a Web browser application.
- Device/Phone Number Mobility – Similar to Find Me/Follow Me, this capaability allows employees to move their phone and its features to another VoIP handset or softphone. Outbound calls on the softphone or VoIP phone will show the appearance of coming from the office regardless of where the user is located. With this option, organizations can actually have a distributed workforce working at home or on the road and still appear to be in one office with all of the same functionality.
- Application Control and Integration – This capability allows users to control their individual settings, voicemail and handset options from a typical Web browser. Users can “click” to dial telephone numbers.
- Unified Messaging (UM) – UM is a single inbox for voicemail, e-mail, and fax. Voicemails are delivered into the user’s e-mail inbox, along with e-mails and faxes. Users “click” on the keyboard to hear voicemails through the audio on their PCs as well as to call back selected parties in any order the user desires.
- Conferencing and Collaboration – Browser-based user setup and control for audio, Web, and/or video conferencing including document sharing and on-screen collaboration can be provisioned.
Smartphones, tablets, and wearable technology can be integrated with IPT systems to allow users to take business and personal calls separately.
6. Lower Cost of Ownership
Total Cost of Ownership calculations can vary greatly based on the type of implementation. The first area of cost savings is in the cost of MACs (moves, adds, and changes). The second area is monthly telecommunications services cost, as the delivery of VoIP allows for a converged delivery of voice (local and long-distance services), Internet access and Wide Area Network (WAN) services. Organizations can save by making free calls between locations using the WAN. Centralized management can also reduce costs.
7. Contact Center
Call-center operations can utilize remote workers or contractors in a unified call-center operation, allowing the business to operate virtually and more productively.
If customers have any of the above requirements, they may be perfect candidates for VoIP telephony. Resellers can discuss these benefits with potential customers to determine if they need to take a look at VoIP in order to maximize business effectiveness.
What other triggers does your company use to identify potential customers for VoIP applications? Please comment below.