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The Myth of VoIP Resellers

Rich has a very thought provoking post about VoIP resellers. I'll concur that he does one heck of a job at bringing the resellers together at the TMCnet Internet Telephony conferences. As a matter of fact he likely does the best job of telling the world that resellers will be at their conferences.

There's one problem though. Lack of buyers.

I don't mean there isn't a ready made market. What I'm saying is these resellers for the most part still are marketing with a 1.0 mindset.

1. For the most part resellers are marketing one brand of solution instead of offering a range. For example, CallTower only sells a Cisco powered solution. I like CallTower and I am favorably disposed towards Cisco CallManager but other solutions work well and CallTower could expand their market with additional options.

2. Most of what the resellers are selling is aimed at the 100+ PBX replacement market, missing the very needy and unde- served Small Business and SOHO market. Fonality is kicking butt in this sector and other options are looming like client Telephony2 and their CallButler product aimed for the 15 seat and under market.

3. Prospective buyers don't know about trade shows like VON and Internet Telephony. If you don't read their publications, visit their web sites or be a part of their world there's lower awareness. These events need to get out of their insular world and market in publications like Business 2.0, Wired, Fast Company, Business Week and the Wall Street Journal, as well as run ads on those sites, plus GigaOm and TechCrunch.

4. The products still require too much of of a techie/geek to administer. This is one reason why cBeyond and Fonality are doing so, so well. Simplification, like options from CallButler and Junction Networks, is where the future lies.

6. Market differentiation--everyone is a VoIP Reseller. No one is a market specialist. As a result it becomes hard to find the right VoIP Reseller to talk with. Companies reselling VoIP need more market focused messaging to drive their service offerings and availability.

7. Too much email and too much web. Sure Google ads are great for inbound lead generation, but too much about the service offerings and the communications is done by email. When I ran the Philadelphia Flyers offices in the 80's one of my big projects was converting them from the Dimension 400 to the System 75. We spent hours with our AT&T reps, Bell of Pennsylvania/Bell Atlantic ops team and then a killer reseller for add ons. When the system was finally up and running it worked great from the start. The AT&T person figured out that the off-premise extensions were best served using the then new Merlin mini PBX that eliminated the need for Centrex interoperability. Bell of PA's loss was our simplification. That type of "consultive" selling is what is lacking today with VoIP resellers.

8. Not enough in the field. Too much off shore. Too many companies off shore their back off and lead processing. Of they expect the CRM solution to handle the "thinking." Get out of your office and in front of your customers. Better yet, bring them to the events. PulverMedia and TMCnet will give exhibitors all the exhibition passes they can give away. The key is to get the bodies to the shows, and "engage" with the buyers, not just tell them what they missed over the web.

If companies can get past the "if we build it they will come" mentality and instead start to niche, target and diversify their marketing, they will find the customers are there. But waiting for those buyers to find them won't be an easy way to do it.


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