Don’t Get Trapped in a ‘Cheap’ Communications Solution

Ben Treadway is President of Vertical Communications and has enjoyed a long and distinguished 38-year career in telecom. He knows how to deliver value in on-premises and cloud communications, having risen through the ranks at various telecommunications companies in North America before acquiring Atlanta-based Fulton Communications and growing its revenue by 600%. Fulton merged to become Vertical Communications in 2014.

12 Key Features to Look For in a Value-Added Communications Service Provider

Recently, I needed a new headset for my frequent video calls. With just a row of photos to base my purchase on, I jumped into the “cheap” trap. I found a model that claimed the same features at half the price. I didn’t do any more research and bought it. When it arrived, the construction of the headset did not match the quality promised by the photos. There were no instructions and no training, but I got it working. When it failed during a meeting, it turned out there was no helpful customer support behind the product. There wasn’t a number or an e-mail. There was no response. Now, I’ll never purchase from that retailer again. I’m loyal to the name brand. A little pricier? Sure, but worth it.

In the telecommunications world, I see the same problem all the time. Many of our competitors in the landline, cloud communications, and contact center spaces compete solely on price and monetization. It can be very tempting to customers. However, the question you have to ask yourself is, “Why are they the cheapest? What corners are they cutting?”

  • Do they focus on just the sale and not long-term customer success?
  • Do they have non-existent customer service and support?
  • Do they turn over staff constantly and have no consistency?
  • Do they not train their teams and keep them up to date on the latest technologies?
  • Do they lack quality customer experience systems and tools?

There’s a Better Way to Do Business

It’s not always easy to know if a Unified Communications vendor is offering a true value or is only concerned with delivering a cheap price. I’ve been doing this for a lot of years. Here’s my checklist:

1 They’ve been in business for many years.

Vertical has been delivering powerful, next-generation communications solutions for 20 years. In our experience, how long a vendor has been around says a lot about them. Can they help their customers navigate changing market conditions and the digital transformation? Are they able to keep sight of long-term success, even when the short-term is a bit rocky? When you partner with a vendor, you need to know they’ll be there for you as your needs change and the industry evolves. The proof is in their longevity.

2 They’ve sold the solution for many years.

In other words, are they new to the game? You want to look for someone with time-tested solutions. The products will no doubt change and adapt with new technology and use cases, but those should be adjustments to their portfolio, not an opportunistic pivot to make a buck.

3 Their sales staff has years of experience and dozens of certifications.

Why does it matter if their sales team knows their stuff?  Because you want to know they can stand behind what they’re selling! When they have the proper experience and training, you know they’ve put the work in to help you solve problems in your unique business ecosystem, not just help you buy an expensive product.

4 Their installation staff has numerous certifications with years of service under their belt.

Can you be confident it’s installed right if it’s their first time? Or even their 50th time? Look for an installation staff that’s an expert on the product with hundreds of installs. I suggest going even further and finding out what the manufacturers think of the vendor. For example, Vertical is constantly receiving recognition from our partners.

5 They have a large service staff with vast experience.

Do they keep just the bare minimum to qualify as a service team? I’d run the other way! Every solution will require service. The only question is whether you’re left to troubleshoot it on your own or if you have an experienced partner, with a robust service process, available to restore connectivity and help you get back up and running.

6 Their customers have been with them 5+ years.

Don’t be impressed by a company that’s good at converting a quick sale. The sign of a quality vendor is when the customer is still loyal and satisfied, many years later. When a customer has an attentive account team keeping them up on the newest technology and a dedicated service team ensuring their system is always working effectively, they have no reason to go anywhere else.

7 They’re a full dealer or wholesaler of your solution.

Beware of sales agents that just sit between you and the solution, without owning the contract or having a stake in the billing or contract process. You don’t want to just be passed along to someone else… you want a vendor that’s knowledgeable, invested, and has answers. Check out our guide for understanding the difference between Master Agents and Value-Added Resellers.

8 They have a wide customer base.

It’s often said, the best marketing is word-of-mouth from happy customers. It’s true; great solutions, delivered with great service, will always find customers. If your vendor can’t bring you dozens of case studies from satisfied customers, don’t be surprised to find out there’s a reason why.

9 Their customers have bought multiple solutions over 5+ years.

Just because a customer made a one-time purchase, doesn’t mean they’re still happy with it—sales numbers shouldn’t be enough to prefer a vendor. Instead, look for a company that not only makes the initial sale but turns them into repeat customers over the lifecycle of the relationship. I believe the best sign that a vendor won’t let you down is that its customers come back again and again.

10 The pricing doesn’t change after the initial sell.

I can’t stress enough how important trust is when you’re working with a communications provider—or any company, really. Vendors that want to build a long-term partnership won’t hook you with a cheap price, hoping to lock you in when the final price balloons. At Vertical, my consultative team might discover extra capabilities (like automation or AI) that can improve your business, but the base solution will always stay the same price.

11 They have a reputable process for install and service.

Good business is built on smart, trustworthy, and transparent processes. If they’re doing it right, it should be reflected in a better-than-average Net Promoter Score. One of the things that I like to boast about at Vertical, is the recognition from our customers that’s reflected in our perfect NPS score. See how we did it.

12 The top executive is engaged and wants to hear from customers.

Does the top executive want to know (or even care) if a customer is having a problem? Do they take personal responsibility for customers and their experiences? I share my direct cell phone number so that customers can reach me when they need to escalate an issue. It’s rare, but much appreciated.


If you’re looking for a telecommunications service provider that embodies all of these, it’s Vertical. That’s because I’ve ensured we live by every single one of these principles. We employ a large, experienced sales, install, and service staff. Our tech team boasts 974 combined years of experience. Our award-winning design, installation, and real-time support process keep our customers coming back year and year. All of this means that you’re not just getting a good price. You’re getting telecom products that reliably work and solutions that add hard value to your business. Interested? Contact us and see for yourself!