Even though it is very convenient to look up pricing for servers, switches, routers, firewalls and the like at online resellers, that is the worst way to purchase. I have been on the inside of IT sales for a long time both at Cisco Systems as well as the owner of an IP Phone System reseller with offices in Atlanta and Miami. Based on working with many different customers, I can give you five good reasons why you should by from a local Value Added Reseller instead of a national online reseller.
1. Best price. If you talk with a local reseller, and either pretend or actually let them help make a recommendation on what products to buy, they can have a better cost than anyone else, usually about 10%. The reason is very simple: manufacturers give better pricing to resellers that recommend their equipment, and who tell the manufacturer that they are doing so. This better cost can then get passed along to you.
2. Best service. If you buy from a local reseller, the employees and business owners live in the same state, county, or even town as you. They will want to keep you happy, and will go out of the way to make you happy with your purchase. If something is defective, or there is a misunderstanding, they can drive right over to look at it and make it right.
3. The money stays in the community. Everyone is lamenting the high unemployment rate and wondering what is going to turn the local economy around. The answer is in the mirror — you are! As long as you are spending money, and you can get it for a good price (see #1 above), keep the taxes local and let the profits on the sale go to the salaries of your neighbors.
4. Your project will be more successful. Any VAR that is any good will have a staff of technical consultants that has done the same upgrade you are thinking about doing many times before. They will know how to plan for the upgrade, gather the right info, what pitfalls to avoid, and how to work around the undocumented features (bugs!) in the product. Don’t just assume they know what they are doing, though, ask for references. Furthermore, ask who is going to actually be doing the work, and if they are going to be available for support after the sale.
5. You will build contacts in your local market. Local VAR’s know about every IT shop in town, and through their contacts can pass along information about what other people are doing. Sales reps bring useful information, ideas, and gossip about what your peers are doing. Hey, with layoffs happening all around, it is good to have a number of friends in the business, especially ones that owe you favors.
So with all these great reasons to buy local, why doesn’t everyone do it? That’s a question I often ask; sometimes I think the five reasons I listed above just don’t matter much to people.
It is admittedly more convenient to fill a shopping cart online and send an order in without having to meet with a sales rep. The national online guys also make a big deal about their expertise and that their large volume gives them better purchasing power. The truth is that your local reseller almost always buys at the same or better cost than the online guys, and for the five reasons above, you are better off buying locally.
Meetings take time out of the day and force IT people do deal with salespeople, who are the last people that the technically minded and results focused IS administrator wants to deal with. That is definitely one of the downsides of buying locally. However, every job has its downsides, and meeting with salespeople is certainly less onerus than say, staying up all night rebuilding Active Directory because a junior IT admin somehow hosed the schema, or troubleshooting a switching loop that took down the entire network and everyone is screaming at you because all the phones, computers, and servers are not communicating on the network, or realizing the backup that you thought was being done every night actually wasn’t for the past 3 months….and that you really need that backup right now!
In fact, compared to many of the more dreadful things that can happen to the Information Technology crew, meeting with a sales rep and their technical pre-sales design engineer, going out to lunch, and having these nice vendors to blame all your problems on is actually quite pleasant.
So, let management and purchasing know that you are going to be doing your part to save money and help your community by buying everything locally from now on!
Author: Rolf Versluis
Published at Priority Queue