Calling All Dealers: Is it Time to Add VoIP?

Business owners are afraid of change for many reasons:

“It will take too much time.”

“It will cost too much money.”
“What if I fail?”

All of the above are common excuses to avoid changing your business practices. But what happens if your industry is slowly dying? If your business is at risk, pursuing additional sources of revenue may be the answer that keeps your doors open.

Office equipment vendors — companies who sell copy machines, fax machines, scanners and more to other businesses — are noticing the declining shift in their industry. According to Statista, the printers and copiers market is expected to decline by a CAGR of -0.6 percent between 2018 and 2021. The business world is going paperless and digital, and therefore the need for products from copier vendors is diminishing.

Though the numbers are disheartening, hope is not lost for office equipment vendors.

One great way to increase your revenue stream is by adding a telephone service like VoIP to your repertoire. The communications market is booming, and its future is bright. According to Zion Market Research, the VoIP services market is expected to grow at a CAGR of at least 9.1 percent between 2016 and 2021, becoming a $140 billion industry by 2021.

Getting your foot in the door now means securing a great source of revenue in the future.

Of course, good things always come at a cost. This is an extremely competitive industry and selling VoIP can be difficult to understand and implement. Among other things, you must:

  • File and process certain regulations.
  • Pay up-front expenses.
  • File as a “public utility.”
  • Learn the system.
  • Set up your system.
  • Decide whether to buy a platform or use a hosted model.

With all of these things to consider it is no surprise that fear of change is so common in this complex and broad industry. Faced with unfamiliarity, some office equipment vendors will never take the first step toward increased revenue.

So what is the answer? Partner with an experienced telephony provider who will support you through the transition.

What many do not realize is that these telephony providers want to join you and help you succeed in a mutual partnership. Telephony providers are experts in VoIP and unified communications, but sometimes lack experience in sales and marketing. Office equipment vendors are the OGs of salespeople. Partnering leads to combined expertise and a “sweet spot” that benefits both parties.

A partnership is a great starting point for office equipment vendors in this industry, affording you the opportunity to:

  • Learn about telephony products from the experts.
  • Grow with a partner.
  • Avoid risk.
  • Work with a vendor that already paid the legal fees and start-up costs.
  • Enjoy ongoing maintenance and support from the vendor.
  • Focus on selling.

By partnering with an established VoIP provider, you can enter a new market in a safe way and continue doing what you do best: selling.

Not only that, this partnership affords a behind-the-scenes benefit. Managed service providers can use the very VoIP products that they would sell for their own day-to-day operations. This provides a unique opportunity to become familiar with the products. What better way to learn about the products than by using them?

Similarly to learning to ride a bicycle using training wheels, this beginner level lets you learn the system, discover its features and unique selling points, and understand firsthand how to use the products. Using the products in-house and selling at a wholesale level is the safest and easiest way to enter the telecommunications industry. Once you are familiar and comfortable with the business, you can take the training wheels off.

Finding a mentor in the industry is another way to overcome the fear of change. Telephony providers know their systems inside and out and are eager to help you in a mutual partnership. Take a look at some of your current partnerships and ask yourself, “Are they spending time with my business or are they investing time with it?”

Keep in mind that selling VoIP is not going to make you a whole new business. It is going to add to your existing business foundation and expand your target market. This extra source of revenue will benefit your bottom line and will provide a safety net if the copier business does, in fact, die.

In summary, the best thing that you can do as an office equipment vendor in a declining industry is add VoIP to your offering! Technology is constantly changing and we all must keep up with the trends. Don’t get left behind as the world goes digital.

Eric Johnson has over 18 years of experience in the software industry, half of which has been spent in the telecom space. Now the New Business Representative for Bicom Systems, Eric previously served as the MarktPlace Director of FISPA (Federation of Internet Service Providers). Before that he worked at Fortune 500 companies Bank of America, Control Data Corporation, and ADP. Eric Johnson has a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara.