In a recent study, titled IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Unified Communications Voice Infrastructure 2011-2012 Vendor Analysis, IDC analyst Rich Costell wrote that "Customers still struggle to justify the deployment of UC and calculate its overall ROI." The conclusion: "educating potential customers is critical" to UC sales.
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." - Albert Einstein.
The transition to selling UC will need to be done with first educating the sales channels. I still hear cost savings as the first reason to sell VoIP.
Also, no two UC packages are similar. In fact, the whole term Unified Communications is garbage can term for everything. In the call center space, it seems to be better defined.
Unified Communications, for the most part, begins with a VoIP service and goes on to include text, SMS, chat, email, video, and conferencing. Then we add social media and collaboration. In some cases, we had integration with CRM and other software applications. This is a huge can of varying stuff - in a marketplace that barely has unified messaging, a single inbox for email and voicemail.
This kind of varying component mixture is more like stew and adds to the confusion to both the customers and the sales teams.
"Since there is no 'one size fits all' solution for UC adoption, customers have not only the advantage of having a variety of platforms to source their functionality but also the challenge of figuring out which solution is most appropriate for them," according to Rich Costello, senior research analyst, Unified Communications/Enterprise Communications Infrastructure.
When the product contains a large array of services selling it is daunting.
- Where do you begin?
- Where do you stop?
- What will deployment look like?
- Will the employees actually be able to utilize the benefits?
- Who's going to manage this?
- Will it integrate with Program X?
- How will the integration work?
- What policies will we need in place to structure all that communication across so many architectures (social, etc.)?
- How much is IT involved?
- Is there a business case for this move?
It goes without saying that the sales process for this is very different from selling telecom services. Education and training of the prospects and the sales teams will be vital for success.
Next week at ITEXPO, I will be moderator for a panel that will touch on this: Educating the Channel with Industry Standard Certifications on Wed., Feb. 1, 2012 at 2:30 PM.