The Flaws in the Technology Buying Process

Tony Horling

The Flaws in the Technology Buying Process

Speed Dating for Your Business: How to Find the Right Technology Partner

Hey, I just met you, and this price is so good, so marry me?

You’ve just sat down at a speed dating event. A beautiful person sits down across from you. You chat briefly about why you are there, and everything seems to line up. Before you know it, she says, “Yes, I’ll marry you!” 

Wait a minute, when did I propose marriage?

You may be excited at first, but slowly you start to see the flaws, the awkward behavior, and before you know it, you are stuck with a partner that isn’t the best for you

Hold up! Are we talking about technology or dating?! Why not both?!

The relationship between your business and the business that supplies your technology needs is relative to our speed-dating horror story.

  • The speed dating event is your search for a technology partner
  • The beautiful person is a seemingly low cost for the solution you believe you need
  • The proposal is an unknowing contract that prevents you from finding a better partner
  • The flaws and awkward behaviors are all the ways this process can go wrong …. If you don’t address the buying process appropriately. 

If you end up married to the wrong partner, an entire array of problems can surface quickly; the least of all your worries will be the cost you are initially quoted. 

When buying technology for your business, choosing the right partner is vital. It’s easy to get caught up in cost-cutting, which can lead to regrettable decisions, unwanted products, and poor customer service. So, think of finding a solutions provider tech supplier as speed dating with long-term partnership potential. 

Qualifying your Technology Partner

Take your time to examine their qualifications, resources, and connections. They should understand your industry and needs and be able to deliver excellent outcomes every time.  

Instead of falling for, “Hello, Mr. Johnson… This is the MC358X; it’s only $500 per unit. Will you marry me?” 

Try asking your potential partner what else they can do for you besides giving you a low price. Having the lowest price is great, but what you need is a knowledgeable partner with the expertise to manage your company-level technological solutions.

For Example:

  • How have you helped other companies in my industry? 
  • Are you capable of customizing a total solution for my company?
  • Once I buy, am I going to receive support in deployment? 

We don’t want to give away the entire farm, but we have to leave you with this tip right up front. Do NOT ask for a price on a specific piece of hardware or solution, until you have fully vetted the solutions provider or VAR. Completing a thorough interview will prevent accidental marriage. In this case, what happens in Vegas, does not stay in Vegas.

Wake-Up Call: There is a flaw in the Conventional Buying Process

Conventional wisdom says when buying, the lowest cost is the biggest determining factor when selecting commodities. Low cost is what we all want. No one would dispute that. This approach is short-sighted. 

Most of us would call X number of hardware providers and ask for a price. Whichever provider has the lowest cost is the clear winner, yes? 

Well, No. 

And this is the core issue we want you to be aware of. Not every supplier fits your business like a glove, but all of them can give you a price.

The Keys to Success

You aren’t just buying a product. You should be purchasing a total solution, and the supplier/VAR should add value. Are they bringing industry expertise, extended support, or thought leadership to your project? 

After all, the definition is; Value ADDED Reseller. So where is the value in addition to the ‘great’ price?

You might think you know who can provide you with the best deal, but the truth is that supply chain hardware products are commoditized products. Every manufacturer produces a comparable product line, and every value-added reseller (VAR) sells them too. So, calling X number of companies to get the lowest price no longer guarantees your success. It used to be true that vendors had to prove their value add before obtaining the ability to resell, but those standards have been relaxed, creating a problem for you.

The problem is companies need to rely on an updated thinking process that can be easily duped or seduced by a pretty price presented by unqualified suppliers.

It’s a flawed buying theory that doesn’t add up. Let this be a wake-up call. If this is how you’ve been acquiring your technology solutions in the past, we have a better methodology that avoids the pitfalls of buying the first offer that comes along.

HINT: It is all in the interview.

If you aren’t interviewing your supplier, you are making a near-irreversible mistake.

Our method is simple, ‘qualify the right partner,’ and the right price and solution will follow. We understand that the speed of business requires decisions to be made with the least resistance, but what happens when you leap before you look? 

DO NOT miss our next issue in this series; we will discuss the horrors of what happens when you don’t interview the supplier. 

Tip: If you don’t interview the solutions provider, you might not be getting the best price. We will show you how to get the ULTIMATE BEST PRICE!

The hidden risks of committing to an incompatible VAR

There is an old fable about three blind men and an elephant. Each man encounters an elephant and relays their experience to the others. The first feels the elephant’s trunk and states that the elephant is like a snake. The second touches the ear and says the elephant is like a fan. The third feels the leg and says the elephant is like a tree. Naturally, the elephant is like all these things, and none of the men are wrong; their vision is incomplete. 

The search for a VAR is no different from the fable; many companies are not wrong in their approach. They simply lack the necessary knowledge to make a clear decision. 

This article will tackle the three things you must know to avoid disaster when selecting a VAR. Because not only are we speed dating, we are doing it blindfolded…

Don’t Blindly Choose a Product Provider Based on Price Alone!

In our first article, we talked about the need to interview the VAR. A thorough interview reveals much about your potential partner. How long have they been supplying technology? Have they serviced your particular industry before? These questions still need to be answered when requesting a simple price for a product. 

The key to this is that the first price you get, even if it is the lowest, may not be the best price you could acquire, particularly in the long run. 

The Standard Buying Process

Let’s consider your search for a moment; you have an issue with aging devices for your delivery fleet. Your team has identified two different devices they would be happy to deploy. You do your due diligence and select the product you think would be best. You know you have 50 delivery personnel in the field, so you would need 50 devices, with some to spare in case of damage. 

The next step logically is to acquire a price. 

Right? Get the price, get the products, and deploy them. 

You go to several VARs, and they all say they can get you 60 devices at varied prices. The lowest price wins, right? Logic says so.

When seeking pricing from multiple companies, the lowest offer may only sometimes be the best match. The VAR that first registered the opportunity with the manufacturer may not be the most suitable option for your needs, and they may have prevented other VARs from getting you your best price and, most importantly, a total solution; more on this later

TIP: Remember, it’s not just about finding the lowest price; it’s also about choosing the right partner for your business. Don’t let the pursuit of savings close your eyes to the importance of selecting an optimal VAR.

The dangers of not understanding the VAR buying process.

Contrary to popular belief, all VARs work with the same or similar manufacturers. When a lead comes to VAR, they have an opportunity to speak directly with you and register the deal with the manufacturer. This guarantees they get the deal registration and authorization to work on your behalf. That is great for the VAR, but what happens if the VAR doesn’t have the right expertise for your needs?

Who cares, right? I will go ask another VAR to get me a price. Wrong!

Requesting a price locks in a deal that other VARs can’t circumvent easily 

When the VAR gets you a price on the desired product, they draw an imaginary wall around your account; this limits what another VAR might do for you.

You’ve effectively blocked other VARs from getting a price and registering a deal with the product manufacturer you were interested in acquiring a product from.

You will have to find another VAR to look for a similar product from another manufacturer, wasting more time and resources. Instead of calling to get a price, you should call to interview and find out if the provider can provide you with more than just a price. 

What else are they adding, technical support, and industry best practices in deployment? Be thorough in your questions. 

BACK TO OUR EXAMPLE

So let’s go ahead and buy the device from the VAR with the lowest price.

Boom, we are done, right? 

That is one way to go, but we suggest that you may have left your best price and a monumental strategic partnership on the chopping block. 

What if some of your devices have failed six months later, and you also need complimentary devices like mobile printers for your drivers? You return to the same VAR, get a price, and replace the damaged devices. 

No problems, right? But what if you could have gotten the same devices, with a service plan to replace the damaged ones at a lower cost, and identified the need for mobile printers the first time? 

VARs aren’t created equally, and some might not have the skill set to bolster your efforts adequately.

Executing Real Buying Power

Your low price could have been lower

What we would like to suggest is that a Value Added Reseller with an actual value add would have had an opportunity to identify the need for the complimentary devices and the need to explore additional service options to keep your devices running in the field, for instance, using hardware as a Service. 

That VAR now has more buying power that they can execute on your behalf and can potentially access an even more fantastic deal from the manufacturer because you are buying more than just 60 Devices. 

Due to their extensive industry experience, the qualified VAR can often get you a lower price and has the added benefits of consulting, tech support, and more.

This is why it is so critical for you to interview the VAR and make sure they are the right partner. In truth, the VAR should be interviewing you to see how much they can help you, not just leaving you with a price for what you requested. A full investigation of how they can help doesn’t harm your efforts; it can only bolster them and help you deploy a more equipped and efficient team in the warehouse or the field. 

Critical Questions to Ask When Interviewing a VAR

You need to thoroughly interview the value-added reseller (VAR) before deciding. It is not just about getting the best price – you’re choosing a long-term partner to solve your problems and provide the right solutions. 

Take the time to properly interview your potential partner and choose one that will provide the best solution for your needs rather than just the cheapest option. Your time and resources are valuable, so choose wisely. 

Because when you choose hastily, it’s not just a divorce that you could face. You’ll spend time and resources finding a new partner, but you’ve also wasted money on a hardware solution that doesn’t meet your needs. Don’t make the mistake of choosing the first pretty-penny solution that comes your way. 

Identify and commit to a provider that genuinely fits your needs.

Question Number 1: What value are they adding?

To become a Value Added Reseller a decade ago, you had to prove your VALUE ADD for the manufacturers to add you to the VAR list. Now the process is severely relaxed; the requirements are lower. 

Anyone can give you a price. That isn’t a value add. What is the VAR adding to the process? More on this next week!

Question Number 2: what experience do you have in my industry?

Be on the lookout for cookie-cutter solutions that don’t meet your needs. Look for VARs with years of experience in your industry and a diverse range of satisfied customers. Ask whom they have served and make sure they understand your vertical market. If they have worked in your industry, it never hurts to call your peers to see how they handled their business. 

Question Number 3: Is this the right solution for my company?

Assess the VAR’s Trustworthiness: Checking their Track Record, Approach, and Focus is critical. When working with a Value-Added Reseller (VAR), you’d want to partner with a trustworthy and service-oriented company. To evaluate their credibility, consider their track record, representation, general approach, and orientation toward your business requirements. Don’t fall for quick sellers who only care about profits; invest in a VAR that values your satisfaction and success.

It can all fall apart if you don’t ask the right questions.

The goal is to Acquire a Complete Solution.

What if the provider/VAR could give you more than a price? What if they could give you a complete spectrum solution? A solution that prevents you from having to go and get hardware here, software here, and Frankenstein everything together in an inefficient mess.

Asking as many questions as possible mitigates damage and prevent you from seeing the elephant as the three blind men did. Instead, you are getting a clear picture in its entirety.

The Flaw in the Buying Process Expose Grand Finale

We have released two articles thus far. Our first proposed that the buying process was much like speed dating. In our second, we laid out the pitfalls that could befall you if you make the wrong choice. We have highlighted the critical flaws in the buying process. But now it’s time to show you exactly how to avoid making critical mistakes when interviewing a Value Added Reseller. 

Paying close attention to these five things will help you unlock true buying power through a fully qualified VAR that fits your unique needs.

How to ensure you get the VAR interview right… the first time!

When you pass on interviewing the VAR, you miss out on buying power. What do we mean by that? 

Say you call and ask for a price on a device; the cost is theoretically $700 per device. That’s great; we can do that, but what if we could ask you what else you might need to supplement or empower the solution? 

You might need mobile printers, charging bays, vehicle-mounted computers, software, support in deploying the solution, etc. Therein is the difference between VARs; some sell you a device, while others sell you a total solution.

If the VAR is adequately equipped with this knowledge, the VAR can now go to the manufacturer with greater buying power. That $700 might now be $550 per device, but you won’t know that because the VAR has effectively blocked your ability to acquire a better price and solution. This is a brief example of how the interview can unlock new levels of savings for you.

So when you interview a potential VAR partner, make sure you are armed with the right questions. We’ve armed you with five key indicators that will tell you if the VAR courting your business is the right fit.

Here are the key details you need to consider when interviewing.

You will get the same or similar product, but at the end of the day, you want to ensure that the company you get the product from does more than get you a price and product. When interviewing, please consider the five following indicators of value. 

Product Availability: Don’t Say Yes to a Product that is Six Months Away

Overcoming product availability hurdles has been a significant obstacle for several companies in recent years. To ensure project success, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of supply chain availability and explore alternative options if necessary. With the right data-driven approach, achieving optimal product availability is now within reach. Avoid long waits for devices that are out of stock. With the correct VAR, if a product is back-ordered, a similar product can be found and deployed long before the manufacturer catches up to demand. Many VARs might claim they have access to a product right away, but come back to you saying the product is back-ordered. Others might have the ability to pivot and provide a similar, if not better product. In truth, what we are qualifying here is honesty from the VAR.

Expertise Matters: Don’t Just Compare Prices.

Don’t be fooled by a competitive price. Just because a Value Added Reseller (VAR) can give you a number doesn’t mean they have the expertise in your industry to help you make informed decisions about hardware procurement. Here are vital things to consider:

  • Procurement is more than price. Your company needs guidance beyond a mere part number.
  • Asking questions is critical. Don’t settle for one-size-fits-all solutions.
  • Expertise saves you money in the long run. Avoid costly mistakes by partnering with a VAR who understands your business.

When it comes to hardware procurement, apples are not oranges. By seeking an experienced VAR, you’ll save time, money, and possibly countless headaches. Don’t settle for a purely transactional relationship. Invest in a knowledgeable partner who will help your business thrive.

Pricing: Get the BEST Price for Your NEEDS: Don’t be Fooled by Upfront Costs

Pricing is crucial when making purchases, but simply opting for the lowest upfront cost can cost you more in the long run. Finding the best price for your needs is not a matter of a quick quote. You need to understand how to get the best price for your needs, which requires a professional touch. Ensure the VAR can help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure your investment pays off. We highlighted this in-depth in our first two articles.

Support: Get Support When You Need It.

If you’re a company that makes purchasing decisions based solely on quotes, getting the support you need down the line can be difficult. Questions and issues always arise, but finding the proper help can be challenging.

That’s where a well-equipped Value-Added Reseller (VAR) can truly shine. Finding a VAR that can facilitate the answers to industry-specific questions, or help you overcome unique challenges can change the relationship. Suddenly you aren’t just buying technology from a vendor; you are engaging with a partner that helps you build your business. Don’t struggle on your own – choose a VAR that can provide the support you need.

Thought Leadership

Many times, a company will call and tell us what they NEED, but after we ask some key questions and make some discoveries, we can help them identify options and solutions that may be a better fit. With experience in many different verticals, we can see what you may not be doing or what your competitors are doing that will help your company make better buying decisions. 

Concluding Thoughts

The point we want to drive home is not that anyone is doing anything wrong but that the buying process itself is flawed. If you go into this process without the proper knowledge in hand, you could be making nearly irreparable mistakes choosing an incompatible Value Added Reseller. 

What sets InTu Mobility Apart from the game of VAR Roullete

We interview you and let you interview us!

By partnering with us, you can be confident you’re getting what you need.

Do you want to deal with multiple vendors for your technology needs?

Most companies would rather have one partner who can handle it all. We can do that for you. Partnering with us will streamline the process for you because we do more than simply acquire hardware for your team. We build working solutions and help you deploy them!

We will even be honest, brutally so. Are we the perfect fit for you? Maybe not.

But what happens when the company you choose solely based on price can’t offer you everything you need? What if the company you passed up could have given you better pricing on the additional pieces you require or had a better understanding of YOUR industry? It’s all about finding the right fit; if that’s not us, we’re okay with that. Don’t settle for less. Choose the company that fits your needs best.

The reality is that searching out a price from multiple sources can hamstring your efforts and eliminate the proper search for the right solutions partner. Don’t settle for the first yes. Instead, take the time to interview and court potential companies based on your interactions. We all sell the same commodity, but choosing a partner who truly understands your vertical market can make all the difference. 

Choose wisely and build a successful partnership in the long run. Not just a price.

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