Sound Advice: Unified Communications Dealers Offer Words of Wisdom

As we close the books on our State of the Industry overview of unified communications, our dealer panel provides a bit of free advice to dealers just embarking down the road of phones and all the value-added features that make the offering much, much more than just handsets and voicemail. The only rule is, if you heed any of the following talking points, you must promise not to sell into the respective geographic markets of our dealer panel. We’ll follow the honor system in this case.

Mike Gilly, Verticomm

Two of the fundamentals in cultivating a successful unified communications program are selecting the right technology partner and identifying the appropriate point person to drive the entire program, according to Mike Gilly, division manager, communication services for Verticomm. On the latter count, this UC manager should oversee sales, admin and operations in order to propagate the desired level of customer service to clients.

Gilly also believes it’s best to target current customers with a new offering such as unified communications. “They know you and like you,” he said. “That makes it easier to tell them about the new service being offered, as opposed to cold-calling companies that don’t know your business.”

Melissa Confalone, Fraser Advanced Information Systems

In addition to constructing a unified communications-as-a-service team that are experts in designing and implementing the best solution, dealers would be well-advised not to outsource the day-to-day support of clients, notes Melissa Confalone, vice president of sales for Fraser Advanced Information Systems of West Reading, Pennsylvania.

“Businesses want to know who they are reaching out to for help, and that they are getting the same great service they receive with copiers for their UC needs,” she said. “I would also commit to analyzing your customers and potential customers to find the best fits for your service, and train your copier salespeople on how to identify those opportunities and gain new business.”

Roland Tolan, UOTG

In some cases, getting dealers to wrap their arms around anything outside of print is a difficult ask, states Roland Tolan, COO/partner for United Office Technologies Group (UOTG) in Irvine, California. They’re simply loathe to welcome digital transformation tools, but Tolan holds out hope.

“Dealers can experience it for themselves by partnering with one of the major IT providers like All Covered and see how they handle it,” he said. “That will give you the confidence to sell it to your customer base. I’m an old-school guy, too, but it was easy for me to realize that we needed to do this in order to be around for the long haul.”

Kirk Studebaker, Coordinated Business Systems

Another dealer who suggests onboarding a specialist from the world of unified communications is Kirk Studebaker, president of Coordinated Business Systems in Burnsville, Minnesota. “The vendors can help, but unless you are willing to just hand the customer over, you need in-house expertise,” he said. “If you just want to sell it and don’t care about losing control of the customer, take that approach upfront. There are vendors that will let you be their salesforce.”

Erik Cagle
About the Author
Erik Cagle is the editorial director of ENX Magazine. He is an author, writer and editor who spent 18 years covering the commercial printing industry.