When a client moves or decides to upgrade his infrastructure because of age their system or they own an end-of-life product, we always recommend future proofing their data network. Category 6 is where we start but the truth is Category 5e will work beautifully for most companies whose needs are not that sophisticated; it is when the client looks for a new Communications system that things become tricky.
So you start asking questions like, ‘What is your five-year growth plan?’ ‘What is your budget?’ and ‘What are we looking to accomplish?’ Asking the prospect about his business gives you an idea of how they operate today; from there you design a new Communications system.
Once you engage the client in conversation about their business, be prepared for a lengthy meeting.
Questions I have found to be useful are:
• Do you currently have a Communications Budget? It is shocking how many companies live Month-to-Month with their phone bills.
• How many full and part time employees do you have?
• Do you have satellite offices or warehouses?
• Do you visit your clients and are they local, domestic or international?
• What about audio conferencing as opposed to travel of any type?
• Can any of your staff work effectively from home?
• Do you have a VPN deployed?
• How many phone numbers do you have where people can contact you?
You will find that some questions are leading and soon the answer you receive will create bullets that you will load into your sales gun and take the business off the street. Some of my recent sales opportunities have had remote IP phones written all over them. My job was to create a compelling financial model to displace their current vendor and system and deploy a new solution. Points made during your discovery will lead the prospect down the IP Telephony road.
How is going “Green” and reducing my “Carbon Footprint” going to help me sell IP Telephony?
The answer is as easy as taking a trip and doing some math. For instance, a member of my family travels 30 miles each way to work. During his commute, he encounters traffic on Interstate 95 and $3.80 at his favorite coffee and corn muffin shop before coming to rest in the parking space at the office. The soft cost of this journey daily without vehicle maintenance is approximately $18.00 per day, round trip. That breaks out to $90.00 per week, which further breaks out to $4,680.00 per year. The cost of the phone is around $800.00. Mr. Client, how would your employee feel if you gave them a raise this year? That number multiplied per employee, who could work from home coupled with any money you could save them on travel, telephone and long distance service while saving the environment is extremely difficult if not impossible to ignore.
Now that your client has a sound financial reason for a leap into the world of IP Telephony let us make a stronger case. Remember the question at the beginning of this article: “How many phone numbers do you have where people can contact you”? With the magic created by many engineers and the protocol called SIP, you can begin to narrow those numbers down to a mere few. Presence settings, twinning and a host of other features could begin to narrow the field.
Please do not assume that money is the only reason to make changes, if you spin the facts correctly and you establish rapport, trust and the client feels you have his business’ best interest in mind you will most likely earn their business.
One more point to make is maintenance and your own “Green Factor.” The more IP systems you deploy the less likely you will need to roll a vehicle to do routine maintenance and changes. You absolutely know what the price of fuel is and what money it takes to maintain a vehicle. That makes the “Green Factor” double green for everyone.
Zig Fekete co-founder of IP Communications in Stamford, Connecticut. To read more of his columns, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Greg Galitzine