We are unhappy with our current reseller. The sales reps are good but we need to grow our network in a direction that our current reseller does not support. What are some key things to look for when choosing a reseller?
You should typically attempt to keep a handful of resellers on your contact list. The primary idea is when your shopping around that you request competitive bids for the equipment your looking for.
This is also dependant on your own technical abilities. Some people have the time and the gift of being able to research a certain subject and then make reasonable decission about that subject. If this is the case you have more range to roam as not ever reseller offers a slew of engineers. I recommend this strat because only you know your business and business needs. Sometimes sales engineers forget the 'engineer' aspect of their title.
What region of the counrty are you in? The company I work for can take you in ANY direction you want to go. We offer all varieties of WAN services along with a highly-technical engineering staff, that will work with you to create a solution for your organization.
check into the resources that the reseller has available. I think you will get more personalized service and better support from a smaller partner if you have atypical needs.
look at the engineers they have on staff and what certs they hold. look at their specializations. go stop by their local office and see what they have to offer. ask for references. do your homework and you can find a very good reseller that will help grow your business and meet your needs.
Avoid anyone offering "Easy Solutions" or that is willing to offer a solution without investigation (even if the investigation is "20 questions" style interviewing).
While there may be many cookie-cutter situations, it is rarely something that can be assumed; i.e., you don't know you have a cookie-cutter solution until you've done some groundwork and answered some questions.
You also have to measure the level of support and on-going planning you'll need. Some customers "only" want to buy the equipment and others require full-scope (help to design, write the spec, RFP, order, install, maintain, troubleshoot, RMA, replace, re-program ...
To select a super-full service provider when you really only need order and RMA support means you're probably paying too much. Choosing a box-mover when you need full support can also be a Very Bad Thing ... the price is usually less, but they are not inclined to give you in-depth support when you need it.
You need to determine the level of services you'll need and be prepared to adjust the budget accordingly; the cheapest deal is not always your best value.
Get references and ask around. Take the lead from politics: Ask their competitors what's wrong with the guys you are looking at.
If you're anticipating a long-term relationship, make sure that's clear and up-front when you begin the discussion. Many VARs / Partners will offer discounts based on your intended volume... but the discounts come at the end of the deal to make sure you fulfill your end of the deal.
Other things (IMO) to look for are:
How long has the organization been around (or other indication of stability)
Staffing levels / turnover... how likely is it that your VARs/Partner's project manager (for your account) is going to leave ... causing delays in your implementation, and perhaps some missed details during the hand-over process.
Be aware of grey marketers ... the hardware deals might look tempting by price, but can bite you later when you need updates, RMAs, or TAC support. There are also some very good counterfeits in the market ... be wary of any especially sweet deals (and "eBay stuff").
If you have special applications, it may be hard to find someone in your area that can directly support your specific applications. Again, discuss this with your most-likely reseller candidates and see if they would be willing to train-up someone (or several) of their staff ... it may be something you'd be willing to pay a little extra for or split the cost.
Perhaps they would consider adding staff to accommodate you needs ... much depends on how much business you intend to do with them.
Some of this might seem a bit "out there," but I used to work at a VAR / Reseller / Partner that would go the extra mile and continually find new ways to expand the "Full Service" scope they could offer.
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