How to Select the Right Technology Advisor:
Gain Access to Wholesale Pricing, Consulting, and Custom Cloud Solutions
By Sonya Z. Meline
HOW TO GUIDE
For your organization to thrive, you will inevitably rely on technology. Unfortunately, there are so many tech-providers to choose from and each vendor has hidden secrets that don’t just get revealed until after you make the purchase. You need to try things out or do costly proof of concepts (POCs) before you know what to expect.
Enter: The advisor and wholesale distributor combo. From here on out we will call them “wholesale advisors.”
These wholesale advisors can help you get the best service and prices on a wide variety of solutions from Cyber Security, Managed Services, Managed Infrastructure, SaaS support such as CRM, ERP, and EHR. Also, you can expect a better experience when sourcing enhanced connectivity with High Speed Internet and SD-Wan and even Cloud Services like Unified Communications and Desktop-as-a-Service. The list of technology services, with the right wholesale advisor, can literally fill volumes.
Selecting the right match will allow you to gain expert advice and great deals on the big brands like VMWare, Cisco, Microsoft, and AWS. However, and perhaps even more important, are the connections and knowledge the wholesale advisor has for lesser known firms who service niche markets and have offerings tailored to your needs.
So, you already know how important it is to work with a wholesale technology advisor. You have got projects and technology needs in mind. Perhaps you’re even considering crafting a succinct, yet powerful, RFP or RFI to get started in locating the right services for your firm. All that is left to do is select the right advisor!
But there are dozens of advisory firms out there, so how do you ensure your advisor can deliver?
Follow this five-step guide to learn how.
1. Aim for wisdom and stability.
Select an advisory firm who has been around a while. I always suggest working with a firm that has been around for 15 or more years so you know they can survive a downturn and are not going anywhere if things get tough. Firms who have survived the 2008 downturn, are better poised to withstand the current economic uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, and better poised as consultants to help you do the same!
2. Go for a track record of success.
You don’t want to be someone’s guinea pig. Every decision you make now will have a ripple effect on your organization. Make sure your wholesale advisor can deliver testimonials or key account references who are in your same, or similar, industry. When you want to share some good news, I’ll bet you're tempted to tell as many people as possible. You want everyone to hear about it, right? So, wouldn’t the good news of technology innovations at wholesale pricing be the same?
3. Ensure they eat their own dogfood.
This crass saying is an inside joke in the advisor community. It refers to the idea that before you sell something, make sure you have tried it and believe in it. Ensure the advisors you work with have tested and vetted the solutions they are bringing to the table. Ask them about their experience, what types of vendors they work with, and don’t hesitate to ask them if they have tried the solutions themselves.
3. 10 Minutes of Detective Works Pays Off
Next, it’s time to spend a few minutes of digging on your wholesale advisor and the company they represent. On LinkedIn, search both their company page and the individual advisor. This will be helpful to understand more about them.
If you find the advisor has hopped from company to company, chances are they might be just as irritating to work with as the rotation of salespeople you are trying to avoid. Also check out their personal recommendations and consider looking at the past roles they have served to see if their experience lines up with the kind of person you want on your team. Advisors who have served in executive roles, worked in cybersecurity, or in technical roles with the federal government or other relevant experience, all tend to have lasting empirical knowledge that can benefit your organization.
4. Ask for their onboarding guide
Good partnerships start with clear expectations. A wholesale technology advisor relationship should start the same way! Ask them to detail the services that they're providing, including who, precisely, will be working on your account. Depending on the how advanced the firm is, they might offer an onboarding guide. Review this to see the services they provide and what you’ll be on the hook for.
5. Follow the “Ten C’s”
Mismatches between your wholesale technology purchasing needs and what an advisor offers can add costs, cause delays, and even damage your organization's reputation – for example, just think of the long term negative impact it could have if the technology solutions you land on are substandard.
Dr Carter, director of DPSS Consultants, first outlined his Seven Cs of Supplier Evaluation in a 1995 article in the Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management. He later added three new Cs to the model.
Dr. Ray Carter, a leader in procurement established the 10 Cs criteria for assessing the suitability of a potential supplier, but these can be used to also select the right advisor. Use them as a checklist when deciding who to approach, and who to avoid.
Look at how competent the advisor is. Make a thorough assessment of their capabilities and measure them against your needs.
The advisor needs to have enough capacity to handle your organization’s requirements. So, ask how quickly they will be able to respond to your needs, and to market demands.
Your advisor needs to provide evidence that they are committed to high quality standards. Where appropriate, look for quality initiatives within the organization, such as awards and certifications.
The right wholesale advisor has power and control over relationships with vendors that extend beyond the reach of your individual organization. Ask them to share with you how this can benefit you.
Your wholesale advisor should be in good financial health. Cash-positive firms are in a much better position to weather economic ups and downs. Remember these are life-long relationships you’re looking to build.
So, it’s okay to ask what information can the advisor and their vendors offer to demonstrate their ongoing financial strength?
Advisors come in many forms, but a wholesale advisor often prioritizes cost for your organization. They have access to better pricing. Listen to stories they have about saving customers money. These will help you think of ideas for your own organization to consider.
Also, cost refers to the cost of the advisor’s services. Some advisors use a consulting model where you will pay them for their services, while other advisors are able to pass on the cost to the vendors. The latter could leave you in a win/win situation – better price on services, and no fee to gain the access to these prices and the advisor’s support along the way.
You’ll want to ensure your wholesale advisor has a consistent process for your firm. Review their onboarding guide and ask how you will fit into these steps.
The best business relationships are based on closely matching values. Be sure your advisor shares your work ethic, commitment, and ask them to provide their company mission statement to see if it aligns with yours.
Does this advisor have a track record of corporate social responsibility? Positive BBB standing and reviews online? Glassdoor could give you insight into how their employees feel. A little time spent looking into the firm you choose can mean you feel good about the relationship!
Find out how the advisor plans to keep in touch with you. Will their proposed communication approaches align with your preferred methods? And who will be your advisor from the firm?
It's also important to find out how the advisor will handle communications in the event of a crisis. Will you be able to reach senior people if you need to?
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