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How to convince a customer to switch to VoIP?

ROI for VoIP, measured on a strictly financial basis, is difficult to prove, especially in single-office deployments. However, the ROI for the system in terms of "soft" costs is very rapid and should be the focus your pitch.

Proving ROI for VoIP upgrades is difficult, especially if the customer doesn't have multiple sites. How can I still convince a prospect to make the switch to VoIP?

ROI for VoIP, measured on a strictly financial basis, is difficult to prove – especially in single-office deployments....

However, the ROI for the system in terms of "soft" costs is very rapid and should be the focus your pitch.

The trick is to know the capabilities of various IP-PBX phone systems and take the time to thoroughly learn how the prospect's business operates. Depending upon their operations and business processes, you can pick and choose features of the VoIP system offering and translate them into benefits that make their business run smoother at reduced operational costs. In general, VoIP systems have many timesaving features, and when time is money, elaborating on those features that are beneficial for that prospect helps prove ROI on the VoIP system you're proposing.

An example of this is a find me/follow me feature common to many IP-PBX phone systems. If your prospect has sales staff, the value of that staff for the business is closing sales. If sales staff are in and out of the office during the day, opportunities are potentially lost if calls are forwarded to voicemail or an operator. With the find me/follow me features, the salesperson is always reachable at one number, no matter where he or she is, because automatic forwarding sends all incoming calls to his or her cell phone. This ultimately makes the sales staff more effective and efficient, thus providing value to the company, and ultimately ROI.

Of course proving this type of "soft" ROI on VoIP is much more difficult than showing a nice graph where ROI is realized after 24 months. Therefore, try to find a "hard" cost solution that gets creative with various telecommunications and/or ITSP (Internet Telephone Service Provider) offerings to cut existing monthly or quarterly phone costs, or even show the reduced costs for Add, Edits, or Deletes.

By focusing on the benefits that yield "soft" ROI, you get the prospect thinking about long-term cost savings, while "hard" ROI provides icing on the cake with a traditional (albeit small) cost-saving incentive.

This was last published in November 2007

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