When Network Vision Systems started four years ago, it had no qualms about basing its business around a single product set. Its parent company, Logical Solutions, had taken a similar decision based around Apple when it first traded in 1983.
While Logical Solutions has since had to broaden its expertise in order to prosper, NVS has had no such problems.
The market that NVS has chosen to work in: videoconferencing. The single product it works with: PictureTel.
"It was a very easy decision for me at the end of the day to go with PictureTel," says Scott Woodward, managing director at NVS. A Logical Solutions founder, Woodward spent three months evaluating the videoconferencing market before starting NVS, speaking to customers to find out their requirements.
From that basis he has built NVS into what he believes is PictureTel's business partner, with an installed base of 450.
That base consists largely of the top 500 corporates, such as Woolworths, along with the local branches of multinational organisations. In conjunction with other PictureTel business partners around the world, NVS recently installed 15 systems for ACI Glass.
As for why NVS has been successful, Woodward believes it stems from dedication to the product. "We're the only dedicated national videoconferencing reseller in Australia," he said. This is why he feels that NVS has been able to beat off challenges from other, more recent players in the market such as Sony, Intel, Alcatel and AT&T.
"And we beat them all the time," said Woodward, "because we're dedicated to our product; we know what we're talking about. And we've got an installed base of 450, and they've got an installed base of single digits. So we have that edge, and we give the customer that comfort."
While NVS may have become successful in videoconferencing, Woodward says he has watched the failures of many others, and understands why.
"Selling and marketing videoconferencing is the hardest product I've ever encountered," he says. "It's the longest sales cycle I've ever seen - 12 to 18-months - and you have to be very good at managing the sales funnel, otherwise you get frustrated and panic.
"To be able to have ongoing business development coming into the funnel is a real skill, and a lot of people haven't been able to manage that. So there's been a huge attrition. My view is that the big will get bigger and smaller resellers will die off - they just won't be able to compete."
While this news may appear disheartening, Woodward says there is an opportunity for resellers with customers that require videoconferencing solutions, if they are willing to partner with a company like NVS.
Good news for resellers
"It (videoconferencing) is a product that you have to know intimately, you have to be dedicated to it. It's completely different to selling a PC, or selling hubs and routers. What they need to do when they have an opportunity is to align themselves with a specialist videoconferencing business partner.
"And a real opportunity for us is to work with the resellers out there that don't know about videoconferencing, yet have got a lot of opportunities but have put them in the too hard basket. Whereas if they partner with a company like us, it becomes a very easy basket. It's good for us, it's good for the reseller, and it's good for the customer."
Knowing how to approach those customers has also been crucial to NVS' success. Woodward says the focus, when selling to customers, is on how videoconferencing is going to enhance the productivity of their business.
"The difficulty is it's a two pronged attack. If you're talking to a finance director, they're only interested in tangible returns - how much is it going to save us in plane fares.
"If you're talking to a CEO, they're largely interested in the intangibles, such as what it will do for their image, for staff morale, or what it will do to enhance customer service or get products to market faster - things that are very difficult to measure, but are obviously critical in a company."