Monday, November 02, 2015

Customers and Softswitches

There is this discussion about softswitches going on (again) on Voiceops. Someone has a laundry list of features and conditions and doesn't want to pay per seat licensing. The discussion sidetracked into the viability of open source. There is overhead on open source too.

We had a great discussion about open source in a service provider's world at ITEXPO in 2 panels with Dialogic, XO and Netsapiens (see summary here). We are doing it again at ITEXPO in Ft Lauderdale in January. Join in.

On all discussions about softswitches, VoIP providers kind of skip the step of WHAT IS IT FOR? The switch is just a tool, right? If you boil it down anyway. It is the techie fun part, but it is irrelevant to the customer. The Customer just wants dial-tone and the service as you promised. Period.

Now you can back that up and say that the Customer just wants a cheaper replacement than POTS/PRI, which explains the 2 million plus SIP trunks that Windstream and XO have on BSFT, but it has more to do with the way we sell and how the industry has been. Since the dawn of the TA96, this industry has been about arbitrage - same service for less - all the way from dollars per minute to less than pennies per minute.

Education is still a huge component of the Cloud Comm sales process. You have to extol your value against the other 2000+ Hosted VoIP providers, the cable guys, the PBX vendors, Miscorsoft and Cisco - and the guy down the street running an Asterisk box. If you can't (or won't) do that, then just sell dial-tone replacement and shut up already. Seriously. It isn't easy -- and we are lazy.

CLECs are pissed because they had Integrated T1 and were printing money with that (and with UNE-P) and pissed both opportunities away. Get over it!

Today, you have to bundle better, tell a better story, align with your market and educate them that you are the expert - or you are screwed. Period.

Pick a softswitch that matches your market. Fact is, most people use very few features. Also, no one needs 20+ call forwarding options. What they do need is a learn how your system will help them achieve their business goals - and that has nothing to do with the price of the seat.

The advertised price of the service online is rarely what you pay (see here). You have to educate the prospect on this. 60% don't buy on price alone. Talk to the other 40%. If you think that the consumer should know all this stuff - and the difference in value between you and RC - well, you are deluded. Consumers don't care about this stuff. They just have to have it as a tool for their business.

This mentality during this discussion might point out the fact that penetration of HPBX some 12 years after it launched is less than 20%!

from Seth Godin today: "The magic is this: As soon as you stop acting like you need every single vote, you can earn the votes of the people you seek to serve."

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