1. They claim they can do it all
IT vendors that promise you the world and claim they can do it all tend to be jacks of all trades but masters of none. This isn’t what you’re looking for; you need a specialist that you can trust to meet your specific needs and give you their full attention. An IT vendor that does everything from building networks and managing servers to designing websites and running marketing campaigns can’t be trusted to keep up with the latest developments in all those fields. If its clients range from micro businesses to corporate giants, it’s not going to appreciate the specific challenges you face, or ensure you get the attention you deserve. You want an IT vendor that specialises in serving businesses of your size with your specific technology stack.
2. They lock you into lengthy contracts
Any IT vendor that is sure of its ability to deliver shouldn’t need to lock you into a contract of 12 months or more. Long-term deals are great for the IT vendor’s cash flow and reduces the risk when signing up new customers, but such deals are potentially disastrous for your business if the vendor doesn’t live up to your expectations. An IT vendor that is a good fit for your business and is confident it can reliably deliver on your needs should also be confident enough to offer a month-by-month agreement – knowing it’ll prove its worth. Regardless of the length of the deal, make sure you read the fine print, especially when it comes to the process of parting ways should things not work out.
3. They offer Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum packages
If an IT vendor freely admits it prioritises some clients over others, then you need to question whether you can rely on it to be there when you need it. Regardless of what you’re told, packages tend to reflect the level of customer service you’ll receive and you can’t afford for your IT vendor to treat you as an afterthought in your time of need. Packages are often based on the number of employees or PCs in your business, which means even a slight growth spurt can push you into a significantly more expensive package. Packages also tend to enforce Service Level Agreements that don’t necessarily align with your needs, especially if the vendor offers multiple levels of support. Often the idea behind budget packages is to lure you in with a cheap deal, knowing full well you’ll have little choice but to upgrade. Rather than cookie-cutter packages, you want an IT vendor that will tailor its 3 services, support, SLAs and pricing to meet your business’ specific needs.
4. Their engineers aren’t in dedicated roles
you’re looking for an IT specialist, not a jack of all trades, so it’s a red flag when the person who makes an on-site tech-support visit is the same person who answers the phones, helped plan your IT strategy and installed your equipment. Your IT vendor’s engineers should have clearly defined roles and not be stretched too far across the organisation, hampering their ability to specialise and stay across the latest advancements in their field.
5. They have a swarm of aggressive salespeople
Sales folk driven by quotas are primarily focused on making a quick sale, with the temptation to make promises the support team can’t keep – perhaps knowing you’ll be locked into a long-term contract. Be wary of any IT vendor that is quick to offer a deal without taking the time to understand your business and its specific needs, as well as set realistic expectations. Owner-managed IT vendors appreciate that their reputation is on the line and that there’s more to their role than just closing the deal. Rather than a quick sale, they’re looking for a satisfied customer, so it’s in their interest to ensure you’re a good fit for each other.
6. They assign you an account manager
Account managers tend to be an extension of the sales team with their own quotas to meet, rather than an impartial trusted advisor. Be wary of an account manager who seems more interested in pushing extra products and services rather than understanding your needs, meeting your requirements and delivering on the vendor’s promises. Once again, an owner-managed IT vendor tends to be less focused on upselling and more focused on great customer service.