Who are you buying from?

Arguably the most important thing to consider when choosing a hosted phone system is: what will my support look like when something happens? If I have a problem, who is going to fix it?

No matter what solutions provider you decide to go with, at some point, you are going to have something that happens that is going to require assistance from someone outside of your company.  It might be something simple like updating your Auto Attendant script, changing your hours of operation or which phones are ringing when your phone number is dialed.

However, what happens if it is something more serious? Internet outage? Power outage? Or worse yet, a datacenter outage? When you have an emergency, you need to make sure the company that you partnered with is qualified, responsive, and there to help.

You do not want them taking your emergency call and then calling another company to let them know there is an issue. In this set up you have your solution provider doing the exact same thing that you are…. waiting by the phone for a call with a resolution or an update. A middleman.

You might ask yourself, why would this happen?

The reason is that many companies out there that sell hosted solutions and do not own the infrastructure that your system is running on. They are simply “Agents” that resell from another company that does own the infrastructure or hardware for your hosted solution. Yes, these solutions can be impressive, and the sales presentation is flashy, but once the solution is deployed this “Agent” has now moved onto the next potential sale.

Then when it comes to you needing emergency help, you call this “Agent” tech support, enter a ticket, and possibly even get some very basic support. However, anything above and beyond is outsourced to the actual company that owns the infrastructure that is running your hosted phone system. Not them.

Alternate names for the sales person you are working with:

  1. Agent: Earns a one time or recurring commission for each sale referred to a company.
  2. Affiliate: Earns a one time or recurring commission for each sale referred to a company.
  3. Reseller: Sells another company’s services under their name with little control over the service offering.
  4. Lead Generator: Earns a one time or recurring commission for each sale referred to a company.
  5. Referral Partner: Earns a one time or recurring commission for each sale referred to a company.
  6. Service Provider: This is Datacomm. They own infrastructure your hosted phone system will run on.

Other questions to ask you sales person if they are reselling another companies hosted phone system:

  1. What commission do you receive from my hosted phone system?
  2. How long have you been reselling or been an ‘agent’ for the hosted phone system you are selling?
  3. Do you offer more than one hosted phone system or does everyone get offered the same platform?
  4. Are you forcing me to go with your solution because it is a good fit or because it is the only thing you offer?

It is important to Partner with a company that can not only give you the flashy sales pitch, but one that truly has control of the solution that is running your business day to day. Some of these “Agent” resellers have programs that change, aren’t getting paid enough by the company they resell from or go out of business, leaving you an orphaned customer. Don’t get caught in a messy and unstable “Agent” situation where they sold you something, but know they don’t have the tools to actually be able to provide adequate support or stick around long enough to maintain a partnership with you.