Choosing a technology vendor for your business can easily go one of two ways. On one hand, you can end up with a fantastic partnership where the vendor brings much needed products, services and expertise to your business. On the other hand, it can be pretty easy to end up with a vendor who seems to do more harm than good. Whether they take days to return an email, fail to listen to what you need or simply don’t put a whole lot of effort into the partnership, vendor frustrations tend to add up fast.
As a technology vendor, we’re in a unique position where we hear directly from our clients on the troubles they’ve had with technology vendors. And we want to share what we've learned and what you can look out for during the vendor selection process.
Tips for Vendor Selection
Here are some tips and tricks for how to select a technology vendor who has your success as a top priority.
1. Check for Experience in Your Industry
Odds are you don’t want a vendor who’s using your partnership as a learning experience. That’s why industry experience must be a part of the vendor selection process.
When it comes to business technology, things are becoming more and more specialized. As a result, generalist IT setups are rarely making the cut. Choose a vendor who's knowledgeable about the technology they offer and the industry it’s supporting.
2. Look for Clues on How They Communicate
Vendors who aren’t great communicators typically aren’t going to lead with that information. Instead, they’ll provide excellent correspondence and timeliness with communication up until the point you sign the contract. And then? Radio silence.
To clue yourself into this one before you’re committed, look at their communication capabilities as a whole. Do they listen? Can they talk through sticking points? Does their internal team seem well-informed? These insights will help you to assess a potential vendor’s overall communication capabilities.
3. Find Out How Their Help Desk Functions
Once you've chosen a vendor, you’re saddled with their help desk. The issue? Not all help desks are created equal.
Ideally, you want a help desk that gives you the help you need. Sounds simple enough, but when your desktop client is denying access to 30 percent of your users, you want a help desk that is... helpful.
4. Talk to Their Current Customers
Perhaps the greatest indicator of a high-quality vendor is a long list of satisfied customers. A quick conversation with a current customer can give great insight into working with a vendor.
Ask your potential vendor for a current customer's contact information. It shouldn't take more than a couple minutes to determine if this vendor is one you'd want to work with.
5. Ask About Consolidation
Some vendors continue to do things the same way they've always been done, others find new ways to make their offerings more helpful and less stressful. For instance, some vendors make consolidation possible.
Vendor consolidation is when a single vendor provides your business with multiple services.
Take, for instance, a single technology provider who offers Managed IT, Managed Print and Cloud Voice services. Instead of going to a different vendor for each of these needs, businesses can partner with a single vendor to receive all three.
In the newest offering from Marco, we’ve taken vendor consolidation even further by doubling down on the simplicity. Not only do clients have the opportunity to receive multiple technology services from a single provider, but they also get to have those services simplified into a single agreement with a single renewal date and consolidated invoicing. It’s called the Stax program, and it’s changing the way businesses receive technology services—for the better.
Summary of Vendor Selection Criteria
If a business chooses the wrong vendor, they can end up in a multi-year contract with an organization that isn't keeping their best interest in mind. But when you find the right vendor? The vendor who compliments the way you do business. It’s a whole different story. So, the next time you’re on the lookout for a vendor partner, look for these qualities:
- Experience in your industry
- Great communication practices
- A quality help desk
- Satisfied current customers
- A focus on simplicity
If your prospective vendor has all this going for them, odds are your business will be in very good hands.