As you may have already read, there is money to be made reselling SIP trunking. But simply calling yourself a SIP trunking provider and buying Google Adwords isn’t a recipe for success. These days, there are lots of sellers to choose from. To be successful in the long term, you have to stand out beyond yelling shockingly low prices. There’s more to reselling SIP trunking than simply reselling.
As a reseller, you are the field general.
There are a number of parties responsible for delivering a quality SIP trunking experience, but as a reseller and main point of customer contact, you are the face of the service and will most likely be held responsible for issues. The 2013 SIP Survey from The SIP School (a questionnaire answered by users and industry pros from all over the world) lists the most typical issues businesses have with their SIP trunking connection. Set up your business to solve/avoid these more often than your competition, and you’re ahead of the game.
Knowing how to operate, starts with knowing the field. US Telecom explains that a deep understanding of SIP is integral to becoming, “part of a SIP ecosystem that can bring new and advanced services to your customers and new revenue streams to your bottom line.” The SIP report offers good intelligence about the kinds of information you need to know, and potential issues to be cautious about.
On nojitter, Gary Audin pointed out that in order for a SIP trunking system to work properly, the enterprise, PBX vendor, SBC/firewall vendor, trunk provider, and the VAR/reseller all need to work in harmony. To that point, the SIP Survey concluded that proper documentation and proven interoperability go a long way to solving typical issues, and ensuring end user satisfaction.
Know your role, and everyone else’s.
Depending on your plan, abilities, and knowledge, you may end up singing up to three parts in the SIP trunking system choir. If that’s the case, all the better. If that’s not the case, find out who the big players in the other roles are in your market. Introduce yourself, get to know their products, make friends, and swap recommendations. The SIP Survey found that the most popular PBXs by far are Avaya and Cisco. Acme Packet is the most used SBC vendor, followed distantly by the second most common response, “no SBC installed.”
Understand where trouble comes from.
The number one issue the survey reported with SIP trunking service as a whole was with the SIP trunking provider. In the eyes of your customers, that’s going to be you. The top three problems people had with their service provider were dropped calls, one way audio, and poor quality. The SIP trunking provider(s) you decide to resell will go a long way toward eliminating those concerns for your customers. Work with quality providers whose quality and performance you’ve vetted thoroughly.
Next on the troublemaker list were SBCs and PBXs. SBCs frustrated people with one way audio, codec issues, and SIP registration failures. PBXs sprouted grey hairs with missing firmware upgrades, codec settings, and registration failures.
Author of the SIP Survey report, Graham Francis, CEO of The SIP School, states that registration failures are usually the result of typos. Codec setting issues are usually a configuration mismatch too. So if you are going to be the guy installing and integrating the equipment, take your time and triple check your work. Don’t be too proud to cut and paste where you can. As for firmware problems, there’s no good excuse. Make sure everything is up to date and stay on top of latest releases for the equipment involved in your users’ systems. Create detailed policies that incorporate multiple checks and follow them with religion.
In a post for Webtorials, Audin explains that when it comes to SBCs, “One Way Audio is frequently the result of “NAT breaking SIP” which means …media often cannot reach the SIP device being used in the network because its private IP address is not routable outside the Local Area Network.” When working with clients be proactive about NATing issues and have their system configured to prevent problems by ensuring the SBC is properly set up.
Now that you know what you need to know from a system perspective, you need to live up to customer expectations from an offering standpoint.
Free trials win business.</h3
Businesses are cautious about switching to SIP trunking or to new providers (the devil you know…), and a free trial removes the risk. The SIP Survey found that 61% of businesses went with the provider they trialed (26% of respondents skipped the trial altogether. Leaving just 13% of companies not selecting the provider they tried first.).
Solid support stands out.
Another poignant finding of the survey was that the service dealer or reseller has the lowest satisfaction rating (by far) when it comes to customer service. Twice as many respondents said resellers need education over any other system partner. This is your chance to shine. Build a reputation for diligent, knowledgeable support, and you will win loyal customers in a commoditized market.
Follow the trends.
In 2013, the two biggest questions businesses had for service providers revolved around fax over IP and support for Unified Communications features, third was about security. These questions barely changed in importance from 2012, so take heed, and have a plan for how you will answer those questions and work with those offerings. If you’re the provider talking about/offering the features everyone wants, guess who wins.
I think you can see the trend. Armchair quarterbacks don’t win this game. Those who know what they’re talking about come out on top. Study the industry. Be the one people come to for advice. Know what works, learn how to recognize quality, and partner with the cream of the crop.
With all this in mind, the next post in this series will provide specifics on how to actually set up your reselling platform. Stay tuned for the final installment to gather all the tools you need to launch your SIP trunking empire.