“When VoIP was launched, it was an exciting time in telecom,” says Jonathan Curry, vice president of sales and marketing for Curry IP Solutions. “But the companies that got out there first expanded hard and fast to try and meet the demand. Unfortunately, now they are overextended. When that occurs, quality and reliability sometimes can suffer.”
Smart Business spoke with Curry about the current state of VoIP and what challenging situations are typically encountered by a VoIP sales professional.
How would you describe the current state of VoIP business use nationally?
When VoIP launched, it seemed like the sky was the limit. Now, we are seeing a bit of a leveling off. Customers are asking more questions, trying to obtain crossover solutions that let them only move one-half of their lines to VoIP and one-half to remain in the analog world. This solution allows them to use trusted names like Avaya when it comes to equipment and to try out the newer VoIP services and see what they are all about.
How does the use of business VoIP in Pittsburgh compare to elsewhere?
This area of the country is sometimes a bit slower to react to technological advances than, say, California. But Pittsburghers recognize and appreciate hardworking companies that have proven reliability. So, while VoIP can be a tougher sell here, many companies are beginning to move in that direction.
I have no doubt that Pittsburgh soon will be among the top users of VoIP. One of the reasons I believe that is that recently, Pittsburgh received a citywide Wi-Fi network. This network could allow business owners and employees greater mobility. It may also allow users to sit outside of PPG Place on a sunny afternoon and enjoy the sun while taking and receiving calls like they were sitting at their desks.
Do some situations warrant a business remaining with its analog phone system?
If the business does not have access to a good quality broadband service, then I would recommend it stay with its current analog system. The reason is that the quality of the broadband service affects the quality of the VoIP service. However, good quality broadband is being rapidly deployed, so the need to stay with an analog system is only temporary.
How do you price a VoIP system?
First and foremost, you have to listen to customers’ needs. I find out what their current needs are, but it’s important also to find out what they are planning in the future of their business. Then I can determine what would be the best solution that can easily grow along with them.
You always want to consider size of the company, number of employees, types of usage and comfort level with new technologies. However, I think it goes back to their current needs and future expectations to find the right fit for them.
Describe the timeline of a typical day you encounter as a VoIP sales professional.
My day begins with a quick check of e-mail and voicemail messages using my e-mail program. Since all my voicemails are e-mailed to me, it’s easy to see what needs to get done that day, what issues need to get resolved and what customers need. Because I’m already in my e-mail program, it’s easy to resend proposals or drop a line to a warm lead. Also, I can send any new lead issues that came up to other sales associates within our group now that they have a copy of the voicemail, as well as any notes I may want to add, so that they can effectively follow up with leads and issues.
Next, it’s time to hit the road for appointments or meetings. So I turn on the forwarding feature on my desk phone so that all of my calls come straight to my cell. This way, I don’t have to give customers my cell phone number and I can control when I am available. Since their caller ID is passed to my cell phone, I can always know who is calling before I pick up the phone.
At the end of the day, I can head back into the office to catch up on any e-mails or calls I missed and get home in time for dinner. VoIP makes the sales professional not only more accessible and capable of doing a better job, but more productive with the hours available to him or her.
How do you describe yourself based upon your level of experience?
My experiences in telecom are varied. When you work with family, it’s not as much about what you can do; it’s a lot more about what else you can do to get the job done. I have been asked to do it all. But we all have our strengths, so the bulk of my experience has been in the sales and marketing side, where I have been working intensely in the development of Curry IP Solutions.