You are ready to purchase IT network and security infrastructure. You are confident about your choices for the refresh or added solutions. You advocated internally and received buy-in. For weeks, potentially months, you spoke with the manufacturer. Now you are ready to sign the dotted line but are told you cannot buy directly from the manufacturer. You must purchase through a third party.
Your point-of-contact with the manufacturer may offer to put you in touch with an IT Solutions Provider, but why do you need to take this extra step? What are the benefits?
The fast and easy route may be to go with the first IT Solutions Provider the manufacturer recommends or the first online reseller that comes up in your Google search. Before you do that, read this article.
You don’t want to be like many of the companies who call us after having problems with a third-party reseller.
“No one is calling us back and we’re ready to purchase. It’s always difficult getting a call back.”
“We purchased the equipment but are having issues. The entity we purchased from can’t help us.”
These are a few examples of the many calls we get with customers having issues with the third-party from which they purchased the infrastructure.
Why Companies Need an IT Solution Provider
Why must you purchase from a third party instead of the manufacturer?
The reason behind this tiered distribution channel is that manufacturers find it cost advantageous. For example, a manufacturer would have to hire an account manager for every customer. It makes more sense for the technology vendors to sell through distributors, IT partners, and resellers.
The benefits are in your favor, especially when you start your journey working with an IT Solution Provider rather than the manufacturer, online reseller, or other third parties within the distribution channel. Unlike the other options within the channel, an IT Solution Provider acts as a trusted advisor, extended team, and single-point-of-contact between multiple IT vendors. This makes it easier for you to purchase and manage a variety of technologies. Otherwise, you would be working with ten or more vendors every time you want to purchase or have an infrastructure issue.
Manufacturers have a monetary goal to sell more of their own products whether it’s the right fit for the customer or not, whereas IT Solution Providers are technology and brand agnostic. The IT Solution Provider helps you identify the best technology fit regardless of the vendor. Online resellers provide a variety of vendor products and infrastructure, but they don’t provide the consulting, implementation, testing, troubleshooting, and overall partnership that you get with IT Solution Providers.
IT Solutions Providers are the best choice for most companies. You just need to make sure you’re working with the right one to reap all the value.
Considerations for Identifying the Best IT Solution Provider for Your Company
Here are the top considerations for choosing the IT Solutions Provider that best fits your needs and team dynamic.
Manufacturers make it easy to become a resale partner. All anyone needs to do is sign some reseller contracts and, within a week, he or she could start taking orders to sell vendor products. Just because a company is legally able to sell doesn’t mean it has the people on staff with the technical experience, knowledge, and capabilities to add the true value you want.
Look at company longevity to see if the IT Solutions Provider is only a reseller, or a reseller that can bring value in the form of consulting, partnership, and technical execution.
A new company isn’t always a red flag, but it is something to consider. This brings us to our other points.
What partner level does the IT Solutions Provider have with various manufacturers?
As mentioned above, anyone can sign up to be a partner. Look at what tier of partnership they earned. Do they have the basic, entry-level partnership that only requires the partner to sign some contracts? Or, did the IT Solutions Partner earn higher tiers of partnership because of their sales and certifications?
Also take into consideration the partnership level they have they earned across manufacturers, both with large and up-and-coming vendors. You probably don’t want to work with a partner that is only competent with one manufacturer. In this case, you’re probably going to receive biased consulting.
How many and what type of certifications does the organization have?
Certifications let you know how competent and experienced an IT Solutions Provider is with specific manufacturers and technologies. Look at the level of certifications earned, not just the number of certifications. This is because there is a pyramid of certifications with easier, entry-level certifications making the bulk.
If you have a complex network, you need to talk to someone who has some experienced and knowledgeable talent on staff. The number of high-level, top-of-pyramid certifications will be an indicator if an IT Solutions Provider is the right talent fit. You can find this information on different manufacturer websites and then compare the certifications the partner earned.
The certifications will provide insight into the technical expertise on staff, but also take a look at the people behind the certifications. Does the engineering talent with the IT Solutions Provider complement the talent you are lacking within your internal team?
Maybe you have someone internally who is great with phone systems and another who is great with computers and printers. Does the IT partner have engineers who are strong at data networking? Security? Network road-mapping? Specific tools and products?
Managing infrastructure refresh cycles and software updates can be a full-time job, especially when tools vary between manufacturers. Ask the IT Solutions Provider if and how they help you manage this infrastructure maintenance. For example, EdgeTeam uses an internal system that helps us automatically stay updated with all our customers’ infrastructure.
Company Size and Client Size
Consider the size of the partner company and the size of its clients. This can be a big indicator of the quality of service you will receive. For example, are you the smallest client in revenue or purchases on the IT Solution Provider’s client roaster? If so, there could be a higher likelihood that your needs and requests are not the highest priority because the account managers will be busy attending to larger clients with larger budgets.
The opposite also applies. Are you the largest client on the roaster? If you’re too big or complex for their staff, will they have the capabilities you need? You’re supposed to lean on IT Solution Provider. You don’t want to take a chance your needs are more than they can manage.
Regulations, strategies, and funding mechanisms vary from industry-to-industry. While an IT Solutions Provider may have an impressive client roaster, make sure they have experience with your industry.
For example, a service provider will want to work with a company that has experience working with service providers. An IT Solutions Provider that only has experience working within finance and healthcare will have a harder time navigating reimbursement mechanisms and other intricacies that are only applicable to service providers.
Consulting Investment and Leadership
One of the biggest indicators of the value an IT Solutions Provider will bring in your working relationship is how they invest in your relationship and lead the conversation with manufacturers.
Manufacturers will always have an agenda to sell more of their products and tools. While the IT partner will set up calls and virtual meetings, it’s important they are also the people leading the conversation and strategy. Not the other way around.
For example, an IT Solutions Provider should lead and help manage the evaluation of multiple manufacturer solutions. They will listen to your goals and challenges, help identify the best tools to consider and manage demos and trials across various manufacturers. This is to determine which tools are truly the best fit for your needs. The Solution Provider will orchestrate and lead this process where a manufacturer or an online reseller will not go through this multi-vendor product evaluation process.
We work with your team to share the time, resources, and expertise your team doesn’t have.
Look through our website to see the industries we serve and how we solve client problems. Sign up for our newsletter and social media so you never miss a story or piece of advice that applies to you.
The best way to get to know us is by starting a conversation so we can learn more about you and share expertise related to your current challenges and goals. Call us at 817-953-2750 or submit the contact form.