VoIP selling made easier

VoIP selling made easier

Andrew Davies
Andrew Davies

Andrew Davies, Development Manager for Citel argues that resellers are taking the difficult route by pushing ‘rip and replace’ VoIP solutions. By letting customers keep their existing handsets, the sell becomes easier and more profitable – and better for the customer.

It’s 2010. IP telephony is a well-established technology. Companies can see clear cost savings, they are convinced that IP telephony can fit into their growth strategy, and the business case for migration to VoIP is sound. So what is stopping them buying VoIP, and why is it sometimes such a difficult sell for resellers?


A common objection to moving to VoIP is the value of a company’s existing infrastructure. Whether it deployed a new PBX eight months ago or eight years ago, there is still value in much of the existing infrastructure. Most enterprises are unwilling to simply throw away handsets and wiring in a migration to VoIP.


New IP handsets are just the beginning of the cost and complexity that enterprises face when migrating to a hosted or premise-based IP PBX.New Cat5 cabling, new LAN infrastructure, retraining, and business disruption can double or triple the per-station costs of a VoIP installation beyond the handset cost.

VoIP commonly runs over Local Area Network (LAN) infrastructure. If the enterprise LAN does not have a substantial amount of excess capacity, voice quality and data transmission can be adversely affected. Migrating to VoIP often means costly and time-consuming LAN assessments and LAN upgrades for increased capacity, and perhaps adding the capability for Power over Ethernet (PoE).

As well as the costs of new equipment and LAN assessments, businesses are rightly concerned about the disruption of migrating to VoIP. This can include installation of new handsets, Cat 5 cabling and a new LAN infrastructure. For the reseller, of course, this all adds complexity, time, and the potential for costly support visits if anything goes less than perfectly.

Finally, user adoption can be a major barrier and source of complexity. Businesses need to factor in the time and cost of training their staff to cope with new handsets, and the inefficiencies when the staff inevitably forget how to use the VoIP equipment. We’re all familiar with new gadgets where only the most basic functions are used because the other features are seen as too complex – IP telephones are no exception.


Avoiding ‘rip and replace’

How can resellers overcome these objections, thus simplifying the sell? One approach is to add a Telephone VoIP adapter (TVA). This is a hardware device that connects existing digital PBX handsets directly to a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based IP PBX, or to a hosted IP telephony service provider.

Once connected, the digital telephones function as IP phones and provide all of the added features of an IP solution. With a TVA, all the benefits of IP telephony are realised in a fraction of the time and cost of a full ‘rip and replace’ VoIP migration. Existing phone wiring is kept in place: no complicated re-cabling or LAN upgrade are required.

After deployment, employees at the endcustomer simply carry on working with their existing phones. There are no new complex IP handsets to learn. No new processes for making, receiving, and transferring calls, or accessing voice mail. The handset is the same and new VoIP features can be seamlessly provided via existing handset buttons, or using the screen of a desktop or laptop.

A TVA, such as Citel’s Portico, can work with mixed environments including digital phones, IP phones and analogue handsets. It can also support over 120 different PBX handset types.


Simple sell – same benefits

With this approach, resellers can focus on the sell, while overcoming the main objections to VoIP of complex migration and sunk costs. By implementing a TVA, customers typically retain around 65% of their existing investment in their phone system.

All of the feature-rich benefits and cost savings are still provided to the customer, but cost and complexity are reduced. When they require additional handsets, the customer can add new IP phones to their existing set-up if they wish, and a migration path is preserved to a full switchover to IP handsets in the future.

By keeping their existing handsets and wiring, a customer’s VoIP migration becomes simpler, cheaper, and flexible. Which means it’s more profitable and easier for the reseller.

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