As customer expectations diversify and the operating environment alters, business communications tools have to be applied to the challenge of meeting the demands of a changing market. And within the organization itself, these tools must adapt as the business grows and changes over time.
While it may seem like a nice idea to remain in your comfort zone and not deal with the hassle of changing your office phones and business communications systems, the simple truth of the matter is that an attitude like this won’t keep you competitive. In extreme cases, sticking with tried and tested (but older) technology may even hamper your operations - and have a negative impact on your bottom line.
Take the move to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony and Unified Communications, for example. Many organizations have resisted a shift to this platform - despite its own proven track record of advanced communications features, improved business continuity, reduced costs, and increased efficiency.
But the world at large has warmed to VoIP - so much so that more traditional phone systems are being actively and officially phased out, in many regions. Any business that fails to make the switch will be at a real disadvantage.
Just as the approved communications infrastructure and operating environments for business may alter over time, so too will market conditions and customer purchasing habits.
For example, over 50% of consumers have been using their mobile devices to search for (and in many cases, purchase) the products and services they want. Any business that hasn’t equipped its staff and upgraded its call-handling practices to keep pace with this trend will have lost any edge it had over its competitors.
Growth And Evolution
Within the enterprise as well, conditions won’t remain static over time. New industry standards, operating practices, and technology will emerge. Personnel requirements will change, as fresh talent is recruited and existing staff move to different positions. Physical and geographical factors may apply, as new premises are acquired, or the business expands to various regions.
All of these will have an influence on the type of systems and equipment needed to run the business, and the nature of its communications set-up.
Smartphones and mobile technology have not only changed the way that people shop - they’ve become the foundation of an online economy that imposes significant demands on the way that consumers should be served by the commercial organizations they deal with.
24/7/365 support and availability are becoming the norm, with customers anticipating resolution or completion times that are as near to instantaneous as possible. And in order to deliver these levels of service, enterprises must empower their staff to collaborate with each other, gain ready access to information and resources, and communicate within the same time-frame.
In this environment, landlines and traditional phone systems simply can’t cut it, any more.
The digital economy requires advanced communications tools with global access, and real-time or near-instantaneous response. And these tools must cover a variety of platforms and apps, to allow for the multiple channels and different methods that people use to contact your business.
Future-Proof Solutions For Business Communications
To survive in today’s environment, businesses require a communications system that combines telephony, Live Chat, email, mobile app support, and social tools. All of this needs to be available across multiple operating platforms, with seamless integration between the various channels.
And to anticipate what the future may hold, that business communications platform must itself be open to change, and continuously evolving.
Net2Phone offers a full suite of voice and communications solutions, for businesses of all types and sizes, throughout the globe. Net2Phone’s integrated platform with phone, messaging, and chat provides the capacity and tools to manage your entire enterprise communications system from a single dashboard.
With new features such as advanced analytics, intra-company chat, and presence panels being added to the mix, net2phone is developing improved services, to usher businesses into the future.
If you’re ready to take the next step in evolution for your phones and business communications, get in touch with one of our net2phone representatives.
Publish Date: January 15, 2019
There is no doubt that there are significant benefits to be had from migrating a telephone system over to a cloud-based solution – let this be clear to begin with. And indeed, one of the most-cited and glaring of these benefits is the savings that can be made in telephony costs.
However, what is not always made clear are the reasons why a hosted PBX solution will save the enterprise money. Empowering users with a clearer understanding of the technology behind hosted PBX is key in this regard, for it will allow us to better appreciate the true market value that cloud-based telephony solutions bring to the SME.
5 Facets Of Hosted PBX That Add Value For The SME
Setting up and managing an IP telephony system, keeping it up-to-date and adding new features and capabilities as they become available is a time-consuming and skill-reliant task to maintain in-house. But, by paying a third party to host your network, a business will free-up in-house resources to concentrate their efforts on more critical operations.
A hosted PBX will be completely managed by the service provider, including the maintenance of the system, and the implementation of security and updates as and when they become available. This means that you will be able to reduce reliance and ongoing investments on in-house skilled resources to keep your telephone system operational.
Legacy telephone PBX systems are all well and good – but the industry is in complete agreement that the future is VoIP. This means that a legacy phone system will never evolve and improve beyond its current state. Conversely, VoIP technology is constantly being improved upon, and indeed has infinite potential that users will continually benefit from as advancements become available in the future.
One of the biggest drains on businesses still using a legacy system is the fact that two separate networks are required – one for voice and one for data. However, with a hosted service, a single network will support full IP telephony, web hosting, emails, office desktops, IT security and multimedia, creating a solution that is far easier to manage and less expensive.
Most SMEs simply do not have the resources and in-house IT expertise to ensure security, reliability and round-the-clock availability for a state-of-the art modern IP telephone system. However, by opting for a hosted PBX service – and thereby outsourcing the management and maintenance of the technology and infrastructure that keeps the system running – SMEs will gain access to the high-quality skills that are offered by the host provider, which will keep the phones ringing 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
VoIP is packet-switched, as it has to be. For VoIP to be transmitted over the data network it needs to first be digitized and transferred as packets. This results in great value-added advantages for the SME – packets are designed to travel across the most efficient route to complete the connection, which means that users always benefit from high speeds and low costs.
Publish Date: May 8, 2017
A lot has changed in the workforce over the past 10 or 20 years. Whereas once upon a time the idea of the ‘remote’ or ‘home’ worker was a very rare occurrence, regarded, indeed, with suspicion by the regular office-locked 9-5ers, in recent times there has been a tremendous rise in the number of people who work from home.
The catalyst, of course, has been the surging rise of the internet, bolstered even more now with the advent of the cloud and – no less significant – the smartphone.
But it’s taken a long time for the technology to reach the point where we are now – that is, according to a recent study by YouGov Omnibus, where 54% of office workers are working remotely, either full or part-time. Indeed, in years gone by, employees who wanted to take advantage of flexible working were forced to either set up a virtual private network (VPN), rely on consumer-grade, poor quality Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), or go the whole hog and have a completely separate telephone line installed in their home just for work.
But modern communications technology has torn down all of these barriers. Indeed, the only real stumbling block now that might stop an employee working remotely revolves around the trust between the business and its workforce.
Remote Workers Are More Productive
Some companies simply don’t allow their employees to work from home, even though the capability is there. The reason for this stance is simple – when you allow employees to work remotely, there will always be the productivity question mark looming over everything that they do. However, to be frank, this type of attitude in 2017 suggests an unhealthy company culture more than anything else.
Research from both sides of the pond has in fact found that remote workers are actually more productive than those who come into the office every single day of the week.
Firstly, scholars at Stanford University in the US ran an experiment – the 2014 Ctrip Study – the findings of which revealing that people who work full time from home are 13% more efficient. As the Money & Career CheatSheet reports:
“Professor Nicholas Bloom, one of the study’s authors, claims the work-from-home experiment, which lasted nine months, saved the company $1,900 per employee. This factors in savings on office space, higher performance, and fewer people quitting.”
Remote Workers Are Happier
If we hark back to the YouGov poll for a moment, we can also see that remote workers are also happier workers – and indeed, it’s not too much of an assumption to make a direct correlation between contentment and productivity.
Of the 54% of the office workers that were able to work from home, 30% felt that their productivity increased when they did so.
But in terms of attitudes, an overwhelming 70% said that “it is important for businesses to allow their employees to work remotely.”
Even so, 23% of the employees interviewed said that their employers allow them to work from home simply because the business “didn’t like it” – which once more reeks of a bad company culture more than anything else.
Why Hosted PBX Is The Best Solution For Remote Teams
Anyone who’s worked in an office will know that it can in fact be a rather distracting place to try and get all your work done. And with this in mind – and in light of the research provided – it certainly makes sound business sense to employ a strategy where employees have the option of working remotely. This doesn’t have to be every single day – and in fact it makes better sense to have all employees come into the office at least once or twice a week, as this gives them the opportunity to catch up on anything that they might have missed while working at home.
But in order for any amount of remote working to be a success, then it’s essential that you have the technology at your disposal that can enable it to happen reliably and simply.
For businesses that want to facilitate remote working and reap all the benefits of a happier and more productive workforce, there is a choice to make. You may already have the tools that will enable remote working, but it may be the case that you will have to invest in some new technology – and one of the best and most cost-effective solutions lies in hosted PBX.
Hosted PBX offers all the functionality that is found in traditional, wired telephony systems, but with many additional benefits and a cost-saving price plan.
The Benefits Of Hosted PBX For The Remote Worker
Reduced Costs To The Business
As with all aspects of hosted PBX, money is saved right from the word go in terms of installation and maintenance. Indeed, there is no installation or maintenance costs with hosted PBX no matter if the worker is at home or in the office – all of this is absorbed into the monthly fee that you pay to your provider. There is also no hiked charges for long-distance calls, nor any for separate landlines, and at the end of the month you will receive one single invoice for your entire workforce, including remote workers, which in turn means that the need for the accounting team to catalogue and approve an endless list of phone bills is also negated.
Ultimate Mobility And Flexibility
No matter if your employees are working from home or are in the office, they will all have the exact same access to all features and capabilities of the business phone system. This is because the PBX resides in the cloud, rather than being tied down to the office building, which means that it is accessible from anywhere, regardless of your employees’ physical locations.
For employees using their mobiles, they will have downloaded an app, which will allow them to remain constantly connected to the central corporate phone system. In effect, this means that any worker can use any device, be it desk phone, smartphone, tablet, or even their personal computer with softphone application.
What is essentially a very simple feature comes into its own with a hosted PBX solution for the remote worker. Your employee will be given one number which their clients will be able to reach them on. When the client dials, the call is forwarded to whatever device the employee happens to be using at the time, meaning that calls are never missed, and the client doesn’t have the hassle of having to remember or re-dial different numbers.
With hosted PBX, there is also no long term commitment to the amount of lines on the system. This means that adding and removing users as needed becomes a very simple task, and your business is ultimately and indefinitely scalable.
Another great bonus of hosted PBX is that you can be entirely flexible with the amount of staff your business has. For instance, if your business experiences seasonal spikes, then you may need to set up remote locations or add telecommuters for support during these times. Indeed, you will be able to advertise seasonal placements for people who want to do some extra work at home, meaning that you can essentially cast the net as far and wide as you like.
Publish Date: May 2, 2017
As the persistent spread of the internet and all of its glorious capabilities continues, the world is met with more and more startups, all fully capable of growth, and all making massive contributions to local, national and international economies.
SMEs dominate the private sector, reaching a total of over 5 million and accounting for 60% (15 million people) of private sector employment. This is clearly an enormous market, which has been steadily adopting VoIP and unified communications over recent years for the purposes of cost efficiencies and productivity gains.
It is therefore a very real prospect for value added resellers (VARs) to start adding hosted PBX to their offering.
10 Tips For Selling Hosted PBX To New Customers
If you’re encouraged by these figures, plus, no doubt, all the other noise that’s started to bubble up in recent years about the future of hosted PBX, then the tips that will follow are aimed squarely at you.
However, as a salesperson you will know the importance of research before you plunge into a pitch. Research the potential customer before you dive in – it will give you the advantage in the long run, as any one of the following suggestions could be the way in to sealing a new deal.
1. Focus On The Proven Cost Savings
Hosted PBX will save the customer money, so make sure that they know this in no uncertain terms. Indeed, this is the only way that you’re going to succeed. In today’s highly competitive business environment, selling IT solutions is all about who’s offering the biggest savings – and that’s the hosted PBX seller.
2. Choose Platforms Developed With A Reseller or Agent Program In Mind
This really can’t be emphasized strongly enough. When partnering with a provider, you want to know that you’ve got full support, that any questions can be answered quickly and satisfactorily, and that you’re equipped with everything that you need. Check out the net2phone Partner Program to see why when it comes to partnering, no one looks after channel partners better.
3. Highlight the Importance Of Mobile
The smartphone and tablet revolution has changed the way we communicate forever. Hosted PBX will deliver a flawless communications system, whether their business employees are at work, at home, or on the go.
Indeed the average person is said to check their mobile phone 150 times a day. With so much time dedicated to staring at our pocket gadgets, it’s essential to take into account the importance of mobile in the current workplace. However, each prospect will rely on mobile phones to varying degrees, so during the sales process you need to make sure that you get to know the degree of mobile usage the prospect anticipates, and from there you will be able to offer the best service that matches their situation and requirements.
4. Low Administration Effort
One of the greatest things about hosted PBX, of course, is that all the difficult, technical stuff is handled in the cloud by the provider. This means that any business who takes it up can essentially completely unburden the IT team from their current communications services, allowing them to focus on more pressing matters – such as delivering a better customer experience and increasing profits. Make sure this point is made loud and clear.
5. Highlight the Scalability of Hosted PBX
A recent survey of over 350 companies with revenue of less than $100 million found the majority of enterprise buyers interested in switching to a new phone system were mainly concerned with the reliability and scalability of the system. Put these concerns to bed – hosted PBX is designed for scalability, and clients only ever pay for what they need. And, net2phone has over 25 years of providing the most efficient and reliable, highest quality voice services.
6. Reiterate That You Are The One-Stop-Shop For All Hosted PBX Needs
When pushing for conversions, clients can often get worried that you’re just shining them on – that as soon as they’ve agreed and have signed up, they’re just going to become another number in the system, and no one they speak to will ever remember them. No – this isn’t the way to win new customers and keep them happy. Indeed, some clients will even be concerned that they will have to deal with multiple vendors when they begin the migration, which may well put them off doing so.
Instead, put their mind at ease by explaining how your organization’s ability to manage all of the client’s communication needs gives you the most valuable solution on the market – there are no multiple vendors to manage, just you. That’s a real value proposition right there.
7. Sell Yourself As A Trusted Advisor And Absolute Expert
There’s a lot of information out there about hosted PBX these days, and the chances are if you’ve got a bite that the prospect will have already heard about some of the benefits. This gives you a great opportunity to expand their existing enthusiasm onto all the other great benefits that they haven’t heard of yet.
But more importantly, you want to give the impression that you’re looking out for the customer’s best interests every step of the way. Indeed, it’s your job as the sales representative not to just sell any product to the prospect, but to sell the best product that is right for them, and also that they fully understand and are in agreement that the best option has been chosen.
This means you’re going to need to do your research. Make sure you’re well-versed in the pros and cons of traditional and hosted PBX, and then work with your client in steering them in the direction that best equates to their most immediate needs.
In 2017, the threat from cyberattack has never been greater, and of course the more we rely on the internet, the greater that threat will continue to be. Therefore, it’s likely that your prospects will have security questions and concerns about the hosted PBX solution. Evaluate services such as VLAN configuration, user authentication, and encryption, as well as the security of configuring and signaling methods.
9. Flexible Deployment Options
As a reseller, you should be able to equip yourself with the necessary tools to find the right deployment option that matches the client’s precise needs for each individual delivery. Though it’s important to reassure that no matter what deployment option is chosen, there is no reduction in feature set, since it is cloud versions of the software, platform and service that hosted PBX provides.
10. Feature Rich
Of course, one of the things that modern businesses want is a telecommunications system that is filled to the brim with professional features that can do everything from music on hold to provide an auto attendant and find me/follow me call routing. Hosted PBX can of course offer all of this and a lot more besides.
But you will do well in your sales consultation to determine exactly what features the client is after, and then advise them as to the best deal available that suits their needs and desires.
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Publish Date: April 6, 2017
The modern day business customer wants more than a simple telephone system. Even for those with an on-premise PBX with no intention of moving completely to a hosted alternative, there are still a whole load of cloud options on their wish list – and as an on-premise PBX provider, you know that it would be a smart business move if you could provide them.
Indeed, whilst current adoption rate of hosted PBX for the time being still stands at around 36%, there are many indicators which suggest that adoption is likely to skyrocket over the coming years. This turning of the tide means that the on-premise PBX provider would do well to exercise some foresight, and start making moves now to ensure future competitiveness.
All companies of course want to be the all-in-one solution, but those who have established themselves firmly in the realm of traditional PBX are starting to feel the heat from the hosted PBX competition.
Hosted PBX, of course, is proving to be extremely attractive to many new start-ups and existing SMEs who are looking at ways to modernize and cut business expenditure. Cloud technology is proving to be the great leveler of businesses on many fronts, and, to be frank, one is hard-pressed to find an area of IT where this is more apparent than with PBX systems.
On-premise PBX has for many years given business the professional edge. Music on hold, advanced calling features, call transfers, forwarding and all the rest. But it’s been expensive – often prohibitively so, especially for the lower echelons of the SME category. But, with hosted PBX, an equally professional business telecommunications system is now readily available for even the smallest business with the tightest of budgets.
Scalable, flexible, resilient, extremely cost-efficient, and with steadfast business continuity plans all bundled in, it really is only a matter of time before hosted PBX becomes the norm, rather than the exception.
And, as the hosted PBX revolution takes hold, pressure is inevitably being placed on traditional providers who are having to turn away potential new customers who can’t come up with the upfront capital required to get set up with an on-premise PBX. Selling hardware is becoming increasingly difficult and will likely become almost impossible over the next five years. Indeed, the traditional PBX provider perhaps only ever has a once-every-five-year recurring revenue stream when their customers finally decide it’s time to upgrade their hardware. The worry, then, is that these once-loyal customers won’t be coming back next time round, as hosted PBX becomes increasingly prominent, affordable, reliable and competitive.
The Transition Period
Of course, hosted PBX is not the norm yet, and telephony is a big boat to completely turn around. And, as such, it’s safe to say that no one is going to go out of business just yet – but companies do need to be prepared.
If you’re selling premise-based solutions only, when what many new customers are increasingly after is cloud options and holistic communications solutions, things might well start to get a bit tough in the years to come. Put simply, during this great transition period, what the smart seller needs is to be able to offer is feature-rich, high-value products as well as the data services that hosted PBX can provide – because that’s what the 2017 business customer is demanding. What is more, it’s imperative that you continue to be your customers’ single source, or else you risk losing them completely to full-service hosted PBX providers.
The Rising Opportunity For VARs
It should come as no surprise to learn that full-service hosted PBX providers are going aggressively after this opening in the market. Indeed, they are trying their hardest to prise this opening as wide as it can go so they can slip in most comfortably. And it’s working.
With hosted PBX, all the PBX features that are so coveted by the modern enterprise remain hosted in the cloud, whilst the on-premise equipment can range from just IP phones plugged into the SMB’s existing data network, to phones, switches and routers building a parallel data network for the voice solution.
This model is a serious threat to the sales of traditional PBX. And hardware sales get hit, so too, of course, does the services revenue that goes into the support and maintenance of that hardware. When the hosted PBX revolution takes off – which it most certainly posed to do – the market for premise-based phone systems will in all likelihood correspondingly shrink rapidly, and that spells real danger to the traditional PBX VAR.
But, rather than sitting back and watching it happen, what this scenario actually creates is an opportunity for those same VARs to adapt their business models. The first thing to do, of course, is to become a selling partner with the hosted providers. Indeed, the knowledge and skill set that was instrumental in making the successful VARs good at positioning premise-based telephony solutions will be key to helping customers identify the right hosted solution for their needs.
Indeed, existing VARs who have sold and supported premise-based solutions in the past, are actually in prime position to take full advantage of and capitalize on the rising threat of hosted PBX solutions, as they confidently go on to usurp the market of legacy phone systems.
Become a partner with net2phone today and retain customer loyalty while benefiting from the advanced VoIP technology net2phone offers. Get in touch to find out more.
Publish Date: April 3, 2017
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