Mystery Caller – March 2014

This month our mystery caller is looking to save a bit of money on his phone bills across mobile and fixed services. He is aware that the telecoms landscape is changing and at some point the PBX in the corner is going to have to go. His workers are already embracing the mobility trend and are constantly speaking to clients whilst on the go. Although he is happy to see the productivity of his workforce, albeit a small one, increase he still has a business to run and controlling the bills is a must. The mystery caller is intrigued by new technologies he keeps hearing about cloud and UC, is his typical SMB able to take advantage of these kinds of technology and will any of them save him money? Find out below.

Virocom

I initially got through to a very nice receptionist who took my questions onboard and said she knew exactly who I should speak to. I was told they offer all of the services a business would require from fixed line through to hosted and mobile so I was definitely in the right place…good to know.

I was promptly put through to Billy who wasted no time in telling me that they were partnered with BT, Colt, Vodafone…pretty much everyone actually! This meant they would be able to take over any lines we currently had with different suppliers which would make it an easy transition for us. In terms of the size of the business Billy told me it didn’t really matter how small we were because they can provide solutions from 4 to 200+ users over hosted or fixed depending on what we wanted to do. When it came to pricing Billy said typically, although he would need to see a breakdown of our bill to be sure, he could save us up to 40% in our standard fixed line services! Billy said we might like to consider VoIP as an alternative to the PBX we are currently using as it can provide a lot of functionality which is good quality and relatively cheap. The good thing about going for their VoIP system was that they offer a free month trial so we could test it out ‘in the field’ to see if was right for the business.

I wanted to know what their customers generally bought from them and I was told that normally customers start out by taking out one service but still have different suppliers for various aspects of the IT and communications. Over time Billy said customers generally give them more and more of their business because if anything breaks then there is just one point of contact. We would be allocated an account manager when we signed up and that person would stay with us even if we migrated more of the infrastructure over to them.

Scores

Helpfulness – 4/5 Manner – 4/5

Knowledge – 5/5 Understanding – 4/5

Sales Technique – 2/5 Clarity – 5/5

Total – 24/30

Great score, Billy was extremely knowledgeable and personable. He knew his business inside out and his answers seemed to glide down the telephone. I wanted him to press me for more information about my business and really try and go for a meeting. Although he wasn’t in any way pushy I suspect he doesn’t need to be to hit his sales targets.

IP Office

I got straight through to a delightful receptionist who put me through to Craig…easy start. I told Craig what I was after and asked what kind of UC solutions they offered. IP Office deal with Avaya, Unify and Panasonic but before I could ask any more questions Craig said we really should get a meeting in the diary so they can assess our needs. Neatly avoiding the meeting question I started asking about what they are selling at the moment and what they recommend to people. Interestingly Craig told me that they still recommend going for the on premise PBX equipment because they can guarantee a certain quality and they are relatively low in costs and maintenance. Craig told me that can be provided over any type of line but if we are thinking about moving to VoIP later on we may want to consider using SIP lines.

I wanted to know if I could actually save money by going down the UC route and I was told that really it depends but when it came to VoIP and traditional telephony there wasn’t a lot in it! Out of the manufacturers mentioned his advice was to go with either Avaya or Unify as they have invested heavily in their product set over the last few years. Craig said Panasonic were still very good but he didn’t see many advances coming out of their camp at the moment. Although Craig mentioned he was an Avaya specialist only he would happily bring a Unify specialist with him to the meeting…bad luck Panasonic! Time to sidestep the meeting conversation again, so I asked about the cost advantages of going hosted versus fixed. Craig said they really don’t start talking about hosted until they have visited the premises of the business and checked exactly what sort of bandwidth is possible. If the capability is there then they could open up the conversation about hosted at that point and really assess if it was right for our company. In terms of what IP Office could offer it was across all telephony, IT and mobile with specialist divisions for each so they could cater for any service a business could need.

Scores

Helpfulness – 3/5 Manner – 4/5 Knowledge – 3/5 Understanding – 3/5 Sales Technique – 5/5 Clarity – 4/5

Total – 22/30

Solid, Craig was pretty competent generally but could have given me more. It’s difficult to outline everything in a phone call and in his defence he was desperately trying to get a face to face meeting in the diary to discuss in depth. In all I would say Craig was a safe pair of hands.

Round up

There were two pretty good calls this month, I was especially impressed with Billy at Virocom. I rang Virocom back in December to ask about wireless infrastructure and they performed well on this topic too. As a company that claims to provide the whole package across Telephony, IT and mobile I thought I would put them to the test with a different topic. I got a different member of the team and they came up trumps too! It would have been hard to fault Billy if he had pressed me for more information about the company and my business needs. The IP Office call was fairly fruitful too although I felt Craig had a good grasp of selling he lacked in his knowledge across the board. We have two companies here that provide services to business across all IT, telephony and mobile yet both of our “contestants” were specialised and would need to bring other people into the conversation had it progressed. Should sales people in the Channel have a more converged knowledge set across the board of services? Is this a practical way to deal with the current technology climate? It’s a tough one to answer and as always…no one likes a jack of all trades!

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine