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What are Small Business Owners Looking for in a Phone System?

Posted by Natalie DeCario on September 11, 2014 at 1:06 PM
Natalie DeCario

Picture yourself as a small business owner whose business is growing every day. Your call volume is part of that growth but you’re realizing that your current system isn’t equipped to handle all of this growth. Now you find yourself back in the crazy phone system market trying to sift through endless options to find something that you think might work.

Have you ever found yourself in this situation? If you have, then trust me when I say you’re not alone! There are plenty of business owners who find themselves in this situation every day and it’s a business hardship that needs to be addressed. Thankfully, there are companies such as the VoIP and telecommunications review firm, Software Advice, who collect data on the VoIP and telecommunications industry so business owners in need have a place to get great information.

Realistically, when looking at the sample of these buyers, Software Advice figured out that very few of them actually had IT backgrounds. Think about how much of an impact that makes on the type of decision that is best for the company! Take a look at the graph below to see just how the demographics broke down when it came to the prospective buyers by job title.

 Phone System Buy Job Titles

To help better understand the needs of those buyers, Software Advice gets together with hundreds of business owners and other buyers who are trying to find a better system. They set out to find the common pain points for these people so they could create the very insightful VoIP Software Small Business Buyer View Report. They spoke with 362 buyers whose companies had annual revenues of $100 million and asked questions such as what was the problem with their current system, what did they want to see in an ideal system, and when do they needed to make the decision to upgrade. During the course of the research, they found some expected and surprising results!

One very interesting finding was that most of the buyers were looking for a hosted solution while no buyers wanted an on-premise IP-PBX. Another main concern that was discovered during this study was that some buyers actually preferred lower prices and increased functionality over call quality. Sure this was definitely still a concern for the buyer, but it was not one of the major items on their checklists.

When talking about features and functionality, some buyers expressed concerns that, “no one told us how to use the capabilities of our current system.” On the flip side to that, if buyers understood their current feature capabilities, they had problems trying to incorporate any newer features to their phone system. Interested in the features we have in the works at VoIP Innovations? Click here to find out!

According to the data in this Software Advice report, 28% of buyers chose voicemail as the top feature for their business. Caller ID came in second at 9%, while voicemail-to-email came in at 7%. A few other phone system features that made the list were Number Portability, IVR and Hold Music.

Here’s a little bit of commentary from a Software Advice Telecommunications Researcher to give you a better overview of this study, “A significant percentage of the small businesses in our sample were exploring VoIP solutions for the first time. 31% still relied on a landline, whereas 13% were relying entirely on cell phones for business communications. 14% were implementing a phone system for the first time (many of these buyers were just starting a business). Buyers who were switching to another hosted PBX or IP-PBX solution only represented 42 percent of our sample. This finding suggests that there's a vast number of potential VoIP buyers among small businesses seeking to modernize their systems. Indeed, 9 percent of our sample expressly stated that they were seeking to update their telephony solutions by switching to VoIP.” Here is a graph to help better represent their findings of who’s using what right now.

 Current Telecommunications Buyer Systems

To wrap up the research from Software Advice, we think it’s very important to share that when these buyers are looking to implement a new system, they’re looking to do it immediately. According to their research, 64% of buys want to have their new system in place within 30 days and only 1% were willing to make a decision within a year. This means that in order to help these small business owners handle the growth of their businesses, we need to move quickly. They need information, free trials, and time with specialists in the company to find out exactly what they need.

Making the effort to help these buyers become empowered to make the best decision for their growing business is when you’ll see a different in your own business. Others will trust in your products and services and they’ll feel more relieved knowing that they’re getting the best phone system on the market! Our advice to you as VoIP reseller is to give your current and prospective customers the information and power to make the best possible decision they can to avoid getting hit with these common pain points. After all, where would any of us be without our customers!

We want to thank the researchers at Software Advice for putting together this detailed report and for sharing it with us. If you’d like to view the entire report, please click here. If you’re a customer looking for more information on how to get into the VoIP industry, then download this handy white paper that will help get you started.

Download How to Become an ITSP

Tags: Telephony, VoIP, Telecom, Small Business

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