Who is the right VoIP provider for my IT company to partner with?
Your IT company’ reputation has a lot riding on your VoIP Partner
When it comes to selecting the right VoIP provider to partner with, your IT company has a lot riding on the partnership. When you recommend a VoIP service provider, it impacts your reputation and can ultimately impact your client relationships. Worst, it may end up sucking up a lot of you and your staff’s time and resources if you’re stuck having to fix VoIP related issues based on a recommendation.
Over the years, we’ve developed some strong relationships with IT MSPs from servicing mutual customers based in New Jersey and working on projects together to meet the deadlines of demanding customers. We’ve had the luxury of working with scaled and larger managed service providers, down to 1 person companies.
As you, Mr. or Ms. IT Person know, you are their trusted technology adviser. When customers ask you for help with communications, phone solutions, or VoIP phone service in general, they’ll trust your advice. When they ask who you recommend what do you say?
Some may be obvious to you, but I’ve found over the years that these 6 categories can help IT companies avoid making mistakes, or introducing a VoIP Provider to your wonderful customer and regret it.
- Is the VoIP company a local or a national provider?
- What are the commissions, if any?
- Does the VoIP Provider refer you business in return?
- Does the VoIP provider sell other services that could be a threat to you now or down the road?
- Does the VoIP provider come physically on-site to install the hardware/wiring and train the end-users?
- Is the VoIP provider flexible and easy to work with or rigid with contracts? What if things go wrong and the customer wants out?
1 – Is the VoIP company a local or national provider?
There are several great national level VoIP providers available for your customers to choose from. We’ve found that national providers are a good fit for IT companies to partner with if you want to handle the sale, project management, installation, training and on-going support of the VoIP phone system.
It is more responsibility and risk then some IT companies want to take on, especially considering it is over and above the plethora of IT needs your customer already has.
We’ve heard from IT VARs that the commission they would earn is typically not worth the risk of pissing off a customer and losing the monthly MSP agreement which it typically 20x-50x higher than the VoIP commission.
One reason why some national providers have had some success acquiring new customers is tied to the ongoing support and engagement of IT VARs wanting the responsibility to install and set up IP Phones on-site, and handle the customer’s demands pre and post installation.
Partnering with a local provider is a natural choice when IT VARs do not want the responsibility of selling, installing, training and servicing the customer, but do want to help foster relationships and build the level of engagement with the customer.
We find the best IT partners make the introduction when appropriate and are available throughout the sales engagement, but don’t want to control the process. Trust is established and there is little to no fear that the introduction will come back to haunt you.
In so many words, it is ideal to partner with a local VoIP company when you don’t want to deal with VoIP phone systems, but you do want your customer to make a smart choice and help in their overall technology decisions.
2 – What are the commissions?
Typically, it is common to receive 5%-20% commission per month based on the customer’s monthly recurring charges. But, every VoIP Provider is unique in their offering. Some VoIP providers also pay a onetime commission based on # of phones or the project total.
A word of warning: be careful of VoIP providers who write in sneaky contract language that have the ability to stop paying your company commission for reasons outside of your control, or placing a quota on your payments. The agreement should be clearly stated that as long as the customer is paying, you receive your commission for the life of the customer.
We found that a 5% commission based on the project scope is economically practical for both parties.
That means if a 30 user business pays $600/mo for their VoIP phone system and service, and there’s a onetime fee of $10,000 (even if its provided to the customer on a monthly lease); the IT company should expect to earn approximately $60/mo commission on-going and $500 onetime fee for the introduction.
There are models that may pay more but like everything in life, the higher your commission the more involvement and time you should expect to put into the process.
The short of it is unless you have equal lead sharing with a VoIP Provider, you should be compensated for introductions that turn into business. Qualified leads are precious and should not be taken for granted.
3 – Does the VoIP Provider refer you business in return?
Another compelling reason a national VoIP provider may not be a good fit is they will not have the ability to refer you leads and business since they are so wide-spread, and not working intimately with businesses.
A local VoIP provider that has local customers and a local marketing or sales arm knows more local business owners and managers, which in turn means more business for you.
What is more frustrating than giving someone multiple qualified leads and you get nothing in return? A qualified lead for an IT MSP agreement has much higher value than any commission you’d earn anyways.
4 – Does the VoIP provider sell other services that could be a threat to you now or down the road?
It’s practical to choose a VoIP provider to partner with that just sells VoIP and there is no overlap.
It’s common for some national and local VoIP providers to offer other services like cloud data backup solutions, mobility device management, and remote PC support. If you’re an IT provider and any of these services overlap, it wouldn’t make sense for you to refer a company that will potentially market services you’re already offering to your existing customer base.
In short, don’t let the fox guard the hen house!
We find that providers that exclusively sell VoIP technology tend to be of higher quality and service because they are not spread thin with other responsibilities and have an enhanced level of expertise.
5- Does the VoIP provider come physically on-site to install the hardware/wiring and train the end-users?
National VoIP providers, due to geographic constraints, typically are unable to come on-site and unable to have a VoIP engineer install the hardware that is needed for proper functionality. Meaning, either a local IT company, or the company buying the VoIP service has to install the phones, router, and switch on their own.
Conversely, local VoIP providers are able to send installers, trainers and account managers so customers have an improved experience. We often ask our customers why they chose us over a national provider and more often than not the answer is due to local service and the fact they know we will come on-site and were not located in another state.
In additional, local providers can typically offer MPLS T1 solutions (instead of providing their service over public internet); this is very important if you don’t want the VoIP Phones on the same internet provider. With an MPLS T1 we can guarantee quality of service, up-time and reliability.
6 – Is the VOIP Provider flexible and easy to work with or rigid with contracts? What if things go wrong?
Most importantly, when choosing a VoIP provider, choose a company you like.
Do you get along with the leadership team and their support team? Are they service oriented? Would you sit down and have a beer with them after work?
Do you believe they genuinely care about people and their customers?
I strongly recommend having lunch or dinner with the provider you’re looking into. Check out their facility. Do their staff members look like they want to jump out the windows or are they happy when you greet them?
How you feel about the VoIP provider is probably how your customers will feel too, so keep that in mind.
When things go bad at a business, whether it’s technical or a customer’s expectations weren’t met, where’s the blame going, and who’s going to help remedy things? Choose a VoIP provider that will quickly and easily solve problems and aim to please all those involved.
It’s vital your IT company partners with the VoIP provider that best fits.
The reputation and success of your business can depend a lot who you choose to partner with. When it comes to selecting the right VoIP provider, you have a lot of local and national options, but whoever’s going to work best for you is going to have to be carefully decided.
By Vincent Finaldi
Vice-President, Tele-Data Solutions
E-mail: [email protected] | Direct Line: (908) 378-1218
What brings me satisfaction is meeting with New Jersey–based businesses and genuinely helping them solve communication and business problems. As someone who has lived in New Jersey my entire life, I love working and playing here. I live in Morristown with my wife, Lisa, and root for the New York Giants.