Unified Communications: What To Know When Buying

The pivotal moment when buying a Unified Communications solution is finding differentiation. If you can't find it, that's a red flag.

Nikki Lee


Unified Communications companies range from one man bands to massive conglomerates with hundreds of thousands of seasoned employees. Finding the right one for your business can be an absolute minefield.

Unlike in the consumer world, Googling “Unified Comms solution” doesn’t help. In fact, it probably just makes the challenge of finding a Unified Communications solution even harder.

References from business peers, existing providers and inbound marketing will aid you to an extent. Industry analysts like Gartner provide a steer but don’t cover everybody that is out there. And the providers that they do cover will have resellers that tailor a specific product set to you, so going direct isn’t always best.

Things To Be Aware Of

You already have a telephone system of some sort, and somebody will have paid for that in the past. As old and tattered as that phone system may be, you should be prepared for some resistance in moving. You will have users that are used to the current experience and the idea of change is completely alien. To counter this, you must make sure you identify your key stakeholders, blockers and champions.

  • Key Stakeholders: These are the people that are going to put your decision to move under the most scrutiny and hold the most power in the business. You need to get them on side early on and keep them involved in regular decisions to drive the changes within your business.
  • Blockers: The people most resistant to change are the hardest to introduce any new technology to. Bear in mind that you use the phone every day. It is viewed as a crucial tool for day-to-day business use. As with the key stakeholders, you need to get your blockers’ buy-in early in the process. Invite them to demos, capture their specific requirements and provide regular communications as to where you are in the process.
  • Champions: Your champions should be easy to spot. These are the people making the most positive news about upgrading to a feature-rich, shiny new Unified Comms solution. You can use these champions as solution evangelists. They are already passionate about technology and changing your business for the better, so you just need to transfer that to this specific project.

What To Expect

All Unified Communications solutions stem from the same core functionality. You must expect some basic functionality as a minimum when selecting a Unified Communications solution.

  • Presence: Users have control of their availability; either available, busy, away, offline or automatically synced from your Outlook calendar
  • Instant Messaging (IM): If you need something quickly but don’t need to make a call, send a message that will pop up on your colleague’s screen for them to respond to. You can even send emojis and documents
  • Unified Messaging: Voicemails and missed IMs can be delivered either to your email or to your visual voicemail and easily managed and responded to
  • Call Recording: Record all or ad hoc calls that can be played back at any time. You don’t even need to download them as streaming is part and parcel
  • Virtual Meetings: Be it audio, video or sharing your PowerPoint presentation, travelling to meetings is a thing of the past
  • Video Calling: Sometimes talking doesn’t get the message across. The power of video, mannerisms and expressions makes a call a hundred times more powerful

The pivotal moment when buying a Unified Comms solution is finding differentiation. If you can’t find it, that’s a red flag. But, do always ask a salesperson what makes their solution stand out from others.

Choose The Best Technology… And The Best People

When shopping for a new Unified Comms solution, the technology is crucial. But, so are the people. Buying a phone system, in the past, was about getting the best deal to make some phone calls. Fast forward to today and the Unified Comms experience is a business journey. The staff you interface with are vital. Your Account Manager, Customer Success Manager and Unified Communications Engineer are heavily involved in changing your business. So, it’s important to get to know them. Here are a few things that buyers worry about when in a sales cycle, that are absolutely fine to do:

  • LinkedIn: Do accept the invitation on LinkedIn. Get to know the people you are dealing with. Their background will shape their future so finding out what they’ve been doing for the last five years will be beneficial. They will likely share industry insights so you can also use them as a free source of information
  • Lunch: Do say yes to lunch. Often, buyers worry that lunch or drinks after work can be seen as a bribe. Whilst it is a tactic to get to know you, you should be reversing this on the salesperson. Get to know them outside of work and treat it like a date. You don’t want to do business with somebody you can’t spend more than a lunch with
  • Come To Our Office: A little like the lunch date, this is often viewed as favouritism. It is not. There are two key benefits to visiting the offices of a potential supplier. Firstly, you get to see the working environment. Is it a happy, clean workplace where your business can be serviced efficiently? Secondly, you get to see the technology demoed in an environment that should be tailored for peak performance.

Hopefully, this post has given you a steer for your Unified Comms buying process.

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