Selling Small Business Customers on Unified Communications

By Jessica Davis Print this article Print

A Cisco 7960 VoIP telephone displaying a Sonus...

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For all the benefits it provides, including saving employees an hour of productivity a day (according to a study), unified communications isn't always an easy sale. It's cool technology - unified e-mail inbox, instant messaging, conferencing by video and/or phone, presence - but in 2010 CIOs are looking for hard ROI numbers. And if you take the technology to small businesses, you'd better have a really good story to tell.

That's what UC solution provider Cynnex founder Ryan Halper does. And depending on the customer, he may take a different tack. That is, some customers are ready to hear the whole UC vision and what it can mean overall. And other customers are so focused on the pain point du jour that they can't think beyond that point.

"Some customers have a very specific need today," he told me. "Certainly we don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill. We don't want to overwhelm the customer with a whole big vision. We want to address the problem at hand that is causing them pain today."

For instance, perhaps there is a legacy PBX phone system that they need to replace. Cynnex can do that without taking the customer down the entire UC path. However, Halper will advise the customer on the right products to choose to build a foundation for taking that path in the future. No need to rip and replace again.

"We are going to replace a legacy system with a Cisco VOIP system," he said. "Again that is sort of a foundation component to this whole UC concept. Our strategy with that customer is to make sure we have the best solution to replace a phone system first and foremost. Where we can take them later is a secondary sales tactic."

But some customers want to hear the whole vision, Halper said. They are thinking infrastructure upgrade - maybe a network or entire phone system.

"I probably would lead with the UC story with them to give that customer a framework of what the future holds to make sure the investment they are making today on any one component should bear that in mind," he said. "We don't want someone to make a decision in a silo around one thing that doesn't do any planning for the future and doesn't take into account that they will want to have UC tools at their disposal in the future."

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This article was originally published on 2010-03-02