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Attention VoIP Suppliers and Enterprise ISPs: talk to your potential customers, not just to each other

I'm more convinced than ever that VoIP would have a faster uptake in the Small to Medium Business segment if more VoIP service providers and equipment vendors spoke directly to end users. The problem is that too many of them speak almost exclusively to alliance partners and system integrator channels, and not enough to the SMB who will actually execute the purchase order.

I'm more convinced than ever that VoIP would have a faster uptake in the Small to Medium Business segment if more VoIP service providers and equipment vendors spoke directly to end users. The problem is that too many of them speak almost exclusively to alliance partners and system integrator channels, and not enough to the SMB who will actually execute the purchase order.

To underscore my point, let me tell you about a piece on the Wi-Fi Planet site in which author Colin Haley cites a survey of 300 decision-makers at some 300 small to medium-size businesses.

Conducted by consulting and research firm Savatar, the canvass- released at the Fall 2005 Von show- seems to show that no clear choice of VoIP provider comes to mind when these folks think about business VoIP.

For the record, the answers were:

  • Non-traditional telecoms, 25 percent;
  • Equipment vendors, 17 percent;
  • Traditional telecoms, 14 percent;
  • Cable companies, 13 percent;
  • "No one in particular," 13 percent;
  • Internet Service Providers, 10 percent;
  • Resellers, 7 percent;
  • "Other," 2 percent.

Colin notes that Savatar president and CEO John Macario says that because of traditional telecoms' advantage of incumbency, the fact that they scored 14 percent - or only one percent more than "no one in particular" isn't encouraging for companies such as Verizon as they try to sell VoIP services to SMBs.

"The good news, if there is any, is that the race for SMB's business is wide open," Colin writes. "To spur adoption, VoIP sellers need to change their sales and marketing tactics."

Which is what I am saying.