The Future of Office Communication
A partner talks to VoNEX about why he decided to become a wholesaler.
Can you tell us a bit about your business?
We really specialize in the SME market. Ninety nine percent of our sales are small to medium business. We are a service provider that provides fixed line, SIP trunks and VoIP services. Along with that is obviously our Hosted PBX product.
Why did you decide to become a VoNEX Wholesaler?
There is certainly a lot of interest. There is also a lot of caution. People’s experience with VoIP (And they think of it as VoIP and not a hosted PBX) is limited to what they have experienced on Skype.
It’s really about getting past the feeling they might have about noisy, crackly, poor quality lines. That’s probably the biggest challenge.
I find if you can get out in front of somebody and educate them, you can take all the risk out of the process and they become very receptive.
What did you like about VoNEX?
We looked at a number of hosted products, some directly from VoIP providers. We also looked at some of the products out there that were capable of being hosted. Most of the stuff I’ve seen out there was a SIP trunk with some PABX functionality.
“What we found with VoNEX is it is a true PABX. It gives you everything you could want and gives you the flexibility to run multiple SIP providers on it. And that’s really what we wanted. “
We find that SME market clients are not good with complex systems.
Ten years ago Telstra trialed a product called Centrex. Centrex was effectively a hosted phone system. They ran it out and put very basic handsets on the end of it.
Most of the small business clients that went onto it hated it because they went from having a key system with everything loaded up for them to all of a sudden having a handset that had a lot of features they couldn’t use because all the features were star codes.
Most small business people are like us with our video players. No one wants to read a manual. So unless its super easy they won’t use the features.
What we were looking for was something that integrated well at a handset level that we could put things like busy lamp fields, call park orbits and those sorts of things.
So you could walk into a business with an existing Panasonic or Commander system and say “here is a replacement for your current system with all these benefits and look how easy it is to use. Everything is on a button for you.“
VoNEX was the one product that really supported this.
You started as a VoNEX Reseller. How has the transition been to becoming a Wholesaler?
From the time we started as a Reseller we were looking at the product as if we were a Wholesaler if you know what I mean.
We wanted to know the technical aspects of the product ourselves and how it worked.
The next step was really just getting into the wholesale server and then being able to say what is it extra that we have to do?
It’s been a really smooth transition. I’ve got to say the support guys are wonderful. They really are.
It’s about de-risking it for everybody. Not just the clients but also the people selling it.
Lets face it. It is a lower margin product from an up-front cash flow point of view. When you’re selling someone a PABX you’re making money out of the box, there’s the installation, so obviously that is a much higher ticket value.
In the hosted market it’s a much lower cost to the customer up front. This means it’s a lot lower dollar margin for our business but you’ve got this incredible recurring revenue stream.
So you’ve got to make sure that when you put them in you’re not spending hundreds of unpaid hours onsite trying to make it work.
Where do you see the Australian VoIP market heading in the next 3 years?
I think as the NBN gains momentum it’s going to make people more aware of the possibilities of running hosted services. Not just phone systems. We run a hosted CRM, a hosted accounting system and a hosted email product.
I think the NBN makes the whole thing a lot more compelling.
Obviously it will get a lot of those fears out of the way because if you have a new fibre pipe giving you 50 Mbps to your business there is really not much you can’t run on that.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think we are all on a learning curve. What really inspired me was an article in the Financial Review just before the New Year.
Every decade they look back and say what was the fastest growing industry in the world for the last ten years and I thought its got to be search engines, mining or something like that but it was VoIP.
They looked ahead and said “What is the fasted growing industry in the next ten years?” It was VoIP.
And that’s beyond everything. That’s above web marketing. That’s everything.
“…when you look at it you look at what percentage of the business market we have now, compared to the size of the market. The opportunity is massive!”
And the big carriers are just going to drag their heels. They are not going to push the VoIP bandwagon because they have too much money tied up in the copper cables.