Technology is expensive and a considerable investment for any company. So when someone recommends you purchase new technology, how do you know if it's a good investment or just someone trying to make a commission sale?
The answer to this question can make or break the trust in an IT partnership. When your IT provider makes a recommendation, can you tell if it's authentic, wise, and helpful or just meeting a sales quota?
Mindful technology investments can move your company forward, increasing productivity and profits. However, poor technology purchases can stress you and unnecessarily stretch your budget. At worst, it costs you more money while holding back your productivity and potential.
WEBIT Services has helped clients select effective technology investments for over 25 years. In that time, we've learned how IT providers can help or hinder their clients' growth through IT strategy and technology.
And, as an IT provider, we certainly understand that we have a bias when approaching this topic. But, you know your business and its needs best. So, we hope this article will help you make more confident and informed decisions when approaching technology investments.
By reading this article, you will learn five signs that your IT provider might be more focused on making a commission than helping you make the right technology purchases for your company.
5 Signs your IT provider is making a commission sale rather than helping
1. It's not in your IT roadmap
IT strategy is a key element of managed IT services, and an IT roadmap is its most valuable tool.
Your roadmap will include short-term and long-term goals for both your business and your technology. In addition, it outlines timelines for IT investments and projects that will help you achieve those goals.
If your IT provider recommends hardware or software purchases outside your roadmap, this may be a red flag that this is a commission sale. Likewise, if the prompt to buy new technology is out of left field, this may be another red flag.
A quality IT provider will follow the IT roadmap timelines and goals when making recommendations. They will also give you plenty of warning so you can plan appropriately and have time to discuss or consider the possible investment.
The conversation may look like this: "According to our roadmap, you have 10 computers due for a refresh next quarter. I have a list of possible replacement models. Would you like to review this now or later? What questions can I answer for you? Is this still a timeline you'd like to follow?"
If your IT provider insists you purchase technology that is not part of your growth strategy, business goals, or risk resolution, it is a sign that the purchase is unnecessary.
2. The price is significantly higher
Purchasing hardware through your IT provider indeed includes a service fee. In addition, business-grade hardware is historically more expensive than a consumer-grade device bought off a store shelf.
However, if the service fee or price of the technology is significantly higher than previous quotes, it warrants investigation.
For example, suppose a client has previously paid $1200 for a particular laptop model. If their IT provider quotes $2400 for the same model, the client should ask questions. Did the price of the model increase? Can we still afford this model? Has the service fee increased? Why?
However, if the IT provider can answer the question well (i.e. "Supply chain issues have driven up the price for this device") and the quote is beyond your budget, revisit your IT budget and expectations.
A quality IT provider will honor your budget needs while providing realistic expectations and technology investment options.
For example, a client cannot require the provider to find an effective business-grade laptop for under $100. As nice as this sounds, this budget is not realistic. Even more affordable laptops cost much more than $100.
A quality IT provider can help you analyze your needs and set reasonable budgets to meet your technological needs.
If the provider cannot provide a satisfactory reason for the price increase, it may be a sign that the provider is trying to push an unnecessary sale. In addition, a quality IT provider will not pressure you to break a realistic budget.
3. Your hardware is less than 5 years old
Most hardware has a usable lifespan of roughly five years. Once hardware approaches the five-year mark, most IT providers will encourage clients to consider a refresh plan to replace it. This helps prevent major hardware crashes and downtime.
Quality IT providers will not recommend a replacement before the hardware's useful lifespan ends unless the device is unreliable or causing more frustration than productivity.
In quality hardware, glitches, slowdowns, and unreliability will increase with age, particularly past the five-year mark.
If your hardware is fewer than five-years-old and performing well, your provider should not recommend changing it. However, if your provider pressures you to replace it, this may be a red flag.
Age and unreliability are valid reasons for hardware replacement. However, a quality IT provider will not ask you to buy new technology "just because it's new."
4. They can't tell you why this would help
A quality IT provider will outline how a technology investment can help you meet your unique needs, achieve your goals, and reduce risk.
Ask them, "Why do I need this, and how does it help me?" If your IT provider can give you a thoughtful, specific answer, they have genuinely considered your business and its best hardware or software matches.
An IT provider who pressures you to make unnecessary purchases cannot explain how it helps your business. It may be a red flag if you hear "salesy" language with vague explanations.
For example, let's suppose a business is told it needs new servers. It asks two IT providers, "Why do I need these servers? How will it help my business?"
One provider explains the needs it has seen within the business. "You’ve grown exponentially over the last year. Your old servers were not made to handle a workforce this size. They’re also ten years old, unreliable, and could crash anytime. These new servers can handle the new workload and reduce your system failure risk.”
The second provider says, “These are the latest model, the best of the best, and will be fast. Everyone needs fast, new servers. They’ll be great!”
Which provider answered the questions satisfactorily? Which provider considered the business needs, and which had a vague answer?
Don’t be afraid to ask your provider why it’s making its recommendations. Specific answers focused on your business goals, needs, and risks show a desire to help your business grow. On the other hand, vague answers may indicate a simple desire to push for a sale.
5. They don’t respect your boundaries
It is a red flag if an IT provider continues to push clients into spontaneous or unnecessary purchases despite a client communicating disinterest.
If the technology does not fix a problem, meet a goal, or reduce risk, and an IT provider continues to push for its sale, this may be a commission-based sale.
However, a quality IT provider will continue to discuss technology replacements or investments if the current IT setup poses a significant risk.
For example, if a client is using End of Life or End of Service technology, this poses a significant security risk. In this case, the provider will continue to discuss why and how this technology needs to be replaced urgently to protect their client’s business.
Consider it a red flag if the provider cannot provide valid reasons for insisting the sale be made.
Next steps for evaluating new technology investments
New IT investments should always focus on moving your business forward, building a reliable IT environment, and reducing risk. When recommending new technologies, a quality IT provider will:
- Follow an IT roadmap
- Accurately and fairly price the technology and service fee
- Recommend replacements based on the hardware age and reliability
- Explain how this investment helps you reach your goals, address a problem, or reduce risk
- Respect your boundaries
If a provider does not follow these five guidelines, they may be focused more on making a sale than helping your business thrive.
Talk to your IT provider or internal IT team if you feel uneasy about a pitch for a new hardware or software investment. Ask them questions about how this technology meets your needs. Discuss the budget. Open, honest communication is the best way to set clear expectations and build trust.
If your IT provider cannot provide satisfactory answers or refuses communication, it may be time to look for a new provider.
For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients develop and execute IT strategies to help their businesses.
Schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see if WEBIT Services can help.
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