Know Your Source® and Get Ease of Doing Business with a Network Hardware Vendor

Recently, we described how to get real value from your networking hardware vendor. The key is to Know Your Source®. It’s imperative that every IT vendor find out exactly who their technology partners are, and what each partner’s business model is. How do they do what they do? Are they reputable? How do you find out?

There are a number of factors involved when you truly Know Your Source. We already discussed getting great value; now let’s consider ease of doing business.

“This company is a breeze to work with.”

Have you ever found yourself saying or thinking this? What really made you think or say it? Most vendors will be eager to get your business. What really sets them apart are the lengths they go to in order to ensure that you, the customer, are satisfied in your dealings with them. It’s all about their value proposition and business structure.

Do they have expertise and knowledge by their side? Or are they very small and do business by having next to no one on the payroll? A reputable vendor that will make your life easy when you partner with them will have a number of qualities you should consider. Think about these qualities:

Customer Service

Do they go out of their way to accommodate your needs when you call/email them? Do you feel like a high priority? Or do they rush you when you speak to them, and provide hurried and uninformative responses to your questions? A good technology partner has the time for you. They make you a priority. They look to answer your questions and meet your needs thoroughly.

Response Times

How long does it take your vendor to respond to you after you contact them? It shouldn’t take more than a few hours. If it does, it could mean that either there aren’t enough people in that organization to handle your needs, or that maybe they’re too big and you’re simply not a priority to them at all. The ideal partner is one that is big enough to handle your problems, yet small enough to consider you a high priority when you need that network hardware to keep your organization running the way you want it to.

Inventory

It’s all well and good to have a company/rep who makes you a priority when you call, but what if they simply aren’t equipped to handle your needs in a timely fashion? Look for a partner that carries a significant inventory of the network hardware you need, that way you can get your equipment in a hurry. When a company has invested in having a large inventory of products on-hand, it means they’re committed to providing you the quickest, most convenient service.

Knowledgeable Sales Reps

When you speak to your rep, do they understand anything about what they’re trying to sell you? Have they been trained on the technology at all? Now no one needs a certified expert to sell them network hardware, but if your vendor hasn’t bothered to train their sales reps at all it could be a pretty good sign that they’re just in it to churn and burn and make some quick bucks. That’s not what you want. Look for a vendor whose sales reps have some knowledge about what they’re selling.

Technical Expertise

Speaking of expertise, does your vendor employ real technical experts who have a deep understanding of the technology you need? It’s amazing the difference having technical expertise on your side can make. You can get pre-sales questions answered and you have a partner that is able to work with you on the technical end to ensure you implement the right network hardware solutions in the right way to work best for you. Good technical expertise from your vendor can eliminate guesswork and make your job just that much easier.

Return on Investment

The last, but certainly not least important, factor you should look for in a networking hardware partner is how well they can help you get the best return on your investment. If you’re buying hardware from them, what will you do with the hardware you’re replacing? It’s crucial that you get maximum value for that equipment. Wouldn’t it be really easy if the same partner you’re getting the new hardware from gave you maximum value for the hardware you already have to help offset your costs? Yes, that would be crazy easy. And any decent vendor should offer you cash, credit or trade for your used equipment to help you get the best return on your current investment.

There are some factors to consider when you’re looking for a partner that’s easy to work with. Their entire business model should be centered on how best to serve their customers. If it isn’t, keep in mind that there are companies that can help you get what you need, and make your life easy doing it.