Historically, the telecom dealer was local to the customer. Does it matter any more? Are we seeing dealers increasingly supporting more and more non local customers?
The world is flat and VoIP reduces distance issues and now with centralization of telecom systems it seems a single dealer can support a national network of locations (branch offices).
When you are talking about a Hosted VoIP solution, location is irrelevant since the only IP equipment at the customers location are the VoIP Phone sets and router. Most phone sets cannot be fixed by a technician and most routers can be fixed remotely. With that being the case, the choice of a Telecom Provider should be based on criteria that matter most to the customer like quality of the products offered, verifiable customer support track record, and existing customer base.
Choosing a Telecom Provider just because they are geographically desirable should no longer be a key criteria IMHO.
In the world of sales to small and medium business, many of us have believed that people buy from people. The internet has changed that dynamic.... people buy from people if they want a business relationship, people buy from the internet if they want it cheap. It's the same issue again - am I buying a product or am I investing in a solution that will help my business? The former can be done with a dealer located anywhere that has access to a shipper and a 24-hour remote support system. The latter requires contact, discussions, and on-going conversations - all of which are more difficult to do remotely (although not impossible....).
Of course a single dealer can support a nationwide network of branch offices, but the initial sale to "headquarters" will almost always require a local presence. We're definitely working with a new set of guidelines for selling and supporting.....