Differentiating Yourself When Considered a Commodity

Differentiating yourself when identified as selling a commodity product is straight-forward but it requires a total business commitment to your customer.

July 29, 2011

3 Min Read
Differentiating Yourself When Considered a Commodity

By David Byrd

Over the past two weeks, we have engaged the real-estate representatives that can influence our ability to sell in buildings where we have a PBX or can provide broadband access and hosted services. Although, the majority of the presentation was about the benefits of working with Cypress Communications and Broadvox since the acquisition and the growth of cloud computing, the questions we received were more about existing services. What was surprising was the question that assumed we are selling a commodity product.

Often, when asked what does Broadvox sell?” I find it simpler to respond with a phone service” or a phone line.” However, when placed in the context of a hosted service, it is much more than a phone line.” A hosted VoIP communication solution is at a minimum an advanced PBX. At its best it is a Unified Communications solution supporting unified messaging, collaboration, IM, telepresence, video, FMC, and business continuity. None of these things is considered commodity today. However, our event attendees see us as providing a phone service with Internet access and those products are considered commodities. Therefore, when asked what separates us from other carriers selling a commodity VoIP service, I gently pushed back against that categorization but accepted it as the opinion of our audience.

Differentiating yourself when identified as selling a commodity product is straight-forward but it requires a total business commitment to your customer. Therefore, our answer consisted of four things:

  • Service and support

  • Network reliability

  • State of the art products and services

  • Focus

Our commitment to service and support can be experienced through our expanded sales force, customer care and IP communications experienced engineering group. Additionally, it is also access to top executives of the company. If there is the need to escalate, call me. I answer my own phone and I will act. Try reaching the EVP of Sales and Marketing at a large incumbent carrier.

A key activity initiated between Broadvox and Cypress has been the integration of our networks. Our network integration improves the customer experience of both companies by increasing service options, performance, reliability and quality of service.

Avoidance of technology obsolescence is best achieved through a hosted service. Customers can leverage a business case where technology is provided to multiple parties rather than attempting to justify the expense individually. This is in addition to acquiring the necessary skills to implement and managed the new technology.

Finally, focus. Our larger competitors have so many businesses and service options it is difficult for them to have meaningful customer priorities. For us, it is simpler. We are focused on providing the best SIP Trunking services and hosted VoIP available. Our resources are not diffused across multiple technologies and business services whereby we seem to be a Jack of all trades and master of none.”

Again, we do not believe we sell a commodity hosted product but if we did that would be our answer.

See you on Monday with a new grilling recipe!

David Byrd is vice president of marketing and sales for


, and is responsible for marketing and channel sales programs to SMBs, enterprises and carriers as well as defining the product offering. Prior to joining Broadvox, David was the vice president of Channels and Alliances for Eftia and Telcordia. As director of eBusiness Development with i2 Technologies, he developed major partnerships with many of the leaders in Internet eCommerce and supply chain management. As CEO of Planet Hollywood Online he was a pioneer in using early Internet technologies to build a branded entertainment and eCommerce website company partnered with Planet Hollywood. Having over 20 years of telecom sales and marketing experience, he has held executive positions with Hewlett-Packard, Sprint and Ericsson.

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