By Jay Ludgrove, Account Manager at Netutils.
Ok, so we know we are not the only IT technology reseller out there. But let me tell you a little about why I think we are different. It’s actually all about when to shift boxes, and when to add real value by working closely with customers to ensure they get the most from our expertise and their technology investment.
When an IT reseller is simply focused on volume sales the likelihood is that the customers’ needs and requirements get left behind when the reseller moves onto the next ‘big volume’ order. This begs the question – can you, the customer, only get the best pricing by sacrificing the service?
I have been with the IT industry for the last 12 years and worked on both sides of the fence, both within technical teams and within sales environments and the one question that has plagued me is how does the customer get the best service at a great price?
This is obviously dependent on the customer’s choice of supplier; do they want a technically accredited company to help with consultancy / development / installation / configuration and future needs? Or would this be plain useless to them because they have an in house team who are already employed specifically for these duties?
As a sales account manager that has emerged from a customer service background, I have always wanted to be able to show my customers a value and experience that they can’t get anywhere else and continue to strive to provide the best service that my technical counterparts are able to deliver.
So what about those customers who are not interested in the services that their resellers can provide, they simply insist on the cheapest price? Is this down to years of being ‘sold to’, that has hardened them to any outside help assuming that all sales people are simply out to get the highest deal value possible without any focus on corresponding service levels? Or do they feel that they have gone through the lengthy recruitment process of employing skilled engineers themselves so they simply don’t see the necessity or value in this level of additional support? And what guarantees do they have that they will be sold the ‘right ‘solution and not just the most expensive?
I believe that this is where the reseller’s reputation comes in. In the past I have worked for IT companies that have quite simply told me ‘Whatever the customer needs we can do. Anything at all, just find out what they need.’ I have never felt comfortable within these types of organisations. Common sense told me, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. I never had the confidence that they were going to be able to deliver on this and although they could be exceedingly cheap the post-sale service was generally left to the vendor who may have little or no knowledge of the initial requirement or challenge. From my personal experience these resellers are used for price comparison only and are seldom called upon to discuss or help deliver future projects or resolve existing problems.
On the other hand resellers that are focused on service over price are going to lose out on a number of deals when the client is only interested in the best price. For this reason I feel it is important to not only have a reputation as an expert in a few core areas but to continuously strive to deliver this message to customers. Ultimately these resellers will not make as many sales as their ‘tin shifting’ counter parts but the retention of business is higher year on year and the customer’s will generally come back for consultancy, development and for open discussions on how to move forward with a particular project or requirement. When you achieve this level of trust you can truly start to become an extension of the customer’s IT team, with their goals and needs coming first and front.
Working for the latter type of reseller requires some adjustment in approach as you will have to concentrate more on what the client needs and less on what you can sell them. This will mean that some sales are smaller than they ‘could’ be and it will mean that you will lose out ‘’on price alone’’. Ultimately building mutual respect can lead to a far superior service and experience for the customer. I sleep better at night, knowing that my customers got the best technology solution that their money can buy that meets their challenges and needs. After 10 years, I finally got to work for a company that promotes relationship building and value with a great ethos that means it’s never really just about the price alone.
So I guess the question you need to ask yourself is for your next technology purchase are you looking for a Tin Shifter or an Expectation Lifter? I know where Netutils fit.