Updated: Jan. 23, 2019
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Very soon, the corporate VoIP segment will hit $86.2 billion in global revenues. That’s double its size in 2012, when Future Market Insights forecast the industry to continue growing at a CAGR of more than 9.0% until 2020.
In the past five or so years, there’s been an increase in business spending on enterprise VoIP solutions which coincided with key developments in two of VoIP’s three main pillars: the stabilization of the core network infrastructure and massive improvements in connection reliability from ISPs.
With reliability and connectivity issues largely out of the way, the chief challenge now lies in the last mile of VoIP service delivery—in the WAN and LAN systems that make up customers’ networks.
A 2017 Forbes article considers this the primary area where VoIP providers can differentiate their offerings. Vendors’ unique value propositions (UVPs) and unique selling points (USPs) now involve greater focus on benefits at the customer network level.
All this translates to a fresh set of messaging and positioning requirements that face today’s VoIP marketers. These challenges arise throughout the customer acquisition process, but are more noticeable at the top-of-funnel stages where the need to attract and nurture VoIP sales leads is at its most crucial phase.
Let’s take an in-depth look at how these developments affect the way marketers reach out and connect with potential VoIP customers, and explore some concrete strategies for you to keep up with these trends.
The Story Behind Business VoIP Growth
For complex-sale solutions like business VoIP, it can take an average of 7 decision makers (each performing a distinct buyer role) to approve a purchase. According to Forrester, end users hold a strong influence over complex B2B purchases because:
- They directly use or supervise the use of your VoIP solution.
- End users have personal involvement in the implementation of your product.
- Their success is directly linked to your solution’s success.
As a result, the VoIP trends that drive users’ needs and preferences tend to be the biggest drivers of the VoIP purchase process itself.
Industry research from different sources point to four VoIP trends closely related to evolving end-user requirements and expectations:
- VoIP’s transformation toward UC
- An increasingly mobile workforce
- Migration from on-premise to cloud-based VoIP
- Greater BYOD adoption in the workplace
VoIP’s transformation toward UC
The lines between VoIP and Unified Communications (UC) continue to blur as more and more solutions integrate voice with email, social media, SMS, instant messaging, mobility, and audio/video conferencing capabilities.
- The drivers of UC adoption include cost management, productivity gains, and efficiency enhancement (Grand View Research)
- 62% of companies rank improved employee collaboration as a top reason for using UC. (Information Week)
- Millennials are among the biggest driver of demand for UC solutions (Diversified)
An increasingly mobile workforce
With the advent of technologies like 5G, workplace mobility continues to gain momentum. Companies are starting to experience first-hand the numerous benefits of cultivating a mobile workforce, such as better collaboration, increased communication, enhanced flexibility—among others. Mobile VoIP sits at the core of all these possibilities, especially since:
- Mobile workers will make up 75% of the US workforce by 2020. (IDC)
- A study finds that the the benefits of custom apps include improved business processes (30%, increase productivity (23%), and gaining a competitive edge (20%). (CITO)
- 87% of organizations expect employees to use personal devices for work-related purposes. (Syntonic)
Migration from on-premise to cloud-based VoIP
Cloud PBX systems now represent a more viable alternative to traditional on-premise VoIP deployments for an increasing number of companies. The ongoing trend in digital transformation sweeping across businesses means VoIP users expect a higher degree of scalability, flexibility and quality with their communications platforms.
- Cloud telephony will grow at a 15% CAGR, while on-premise systems will decline by 11%. (Gartner)
- A survey shows that the benefits of cloud-based solutions include: data access (42%), disaster recovery (38%), and operational flexibility (37%). (Spiceworks)
- 82% of companies that moved to the Cloud report cost reductions as a result. (Kloudville)
Greater BYOD adoption
As initial skepticism toward BYOD policies get replaced by actual results, a steadily growing number of companies are adopting a more open attitude toward employees’ use of individual devices at work. This means VoIP vendors that still insist on providing their own devices run the risk of being left behind by sellers that allow users to integrate any SIP-enabled device into the system.
- 72% of companies now implement a BYOD policy. (Tenable)
- 69% of IT decision makers in the US consider BYOD to be a positive move for their company. (Cisco)
- BYOD policies boost productivity by 34% because it helps speed up innovation, provides flexibility that boosts worker morale, and enhances collaboration. (Frost & Sullivan)
Reaching and Engaging VoIP Sales Leads
Like we’ve mentioned earlier, as VoIP technologies continue to improve, vendors need to differentiate their solutions down at the customer network level. We see this in the trend toward UC, cloud-based PBX, workplace mobility, and VoIP-supported BYOD.
These major shifts also indicate end-users’ growing role and influence in the purchase process. VoIP marketers need to pay special attention to this key buyer group when developing messaging/positioning strategies and campaign tactics.
Here’s how these trends impact the way you connect with (and ultimately convert) high-value VoIP sales leads:
- Put a strong emphasis on scalability
- Consult, don’t sell (advise, don’t pitch)
- Present your company as a strategic partner
Put a strong emphasis on scalability
Software Advice polled 350 businesses and found that VoIP buyers want both reliability and scalability. Among the respondents, 17% cited the lack of reliability in their current phone system as a key driver for switching to a VoIP system.
The study also uncovered that 77% of businesses wanted a hosted VoIP platform, mentioning scalability as a top reason.
Together with the trends we explored earlier, this clearly underscores the need for emphasizing how well your solution scales with the customer’s changing needs. Scalability should occupy a more prominent place in your UVP, instead of simply relying on mentioning cost savings all the time.
Consult, don’t sell (advise, don’t pitch)
Business VoIP solutions can be a daunting ecosystem to navigate even for the seasoned customer. That’s why it’s part of your job as a VoIP marketer to help leads untangle the complexity and enable them to make an informed choice.
In fact, the Software Advice study also reported that VoIP customers’ top complaints included the lack of resources for maximizing their current phone system’s capabilities as well as getting poor support when implementing new features.
As the VoIP landscape continues to rapidly evolve, buyers need knowledgeable vendors to help them find the right solution, not just find customers.
Present your company as a strategic partner
The 2018 B2B Buying Disconnect report from TrustRadius highlights a number of things that customers expect from tech vendors in order to win their business. One key finding is that nearly 9 in 10 B2B customers consider vendors that play “a strategic role” as “very influential” in the purchase process.
According to the respondents, strategic roles include activities such as “on-site visits, extended trials, demos with real data, customization options, and demonstrating ROI.”
Strategic partnership also covers enabling seamless implementation and transition as users migrate to your solution. It also consists of providing ongoing customer service and all other activities that guarantee your customer’s success with your product.
Conclusion: Gaining the right marketing bandwidth to truly connect with high-value VoIP sales leads is all about keeping up with what your prospects expect. In this case, all signs indicate that it’s going to be end users’ needs and expectations that will help you reach and engage potential customers better.