Q&A | January 17, 2014

Financing Options Your Customers Will Love

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By Bernadette Wilson, associate editor, Business Solutions magazine
Follow Me On Twitter @bernadeditor

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You are ready to close the deal: the customer wants to buy. Now it’s all in the customer’s hands to find a way to pay for the solution.

Or is it?

John Livesay, VP of Infranet Technologies, points out, “People appreciate help figuring out how to pay for a project.” Livesay stresses his company does no lending itself. Infranet Technologies is an IT integrator with products and services including general network and security assessments, wireless networking, and IT management — not a financial institution. The company does, however, help connect customers with resources that offer financing options. He says providing this assistance can contribute to your “trusted business advisor” status and help develop a good relationship with your customers. Livesay adds that the ability to suggest competitive financing options to your customers “lends a sense of comfort and stability to the deal — especially a larger deal.”

He says over the past few years, more of his customers have been planning tech projects — and more are financing them. SMBs, in particular, consider financing instead of spending cash on hand for projects. Livesay says the customer’s local bank is sometimes a good option. Another possibility is working with a partner that provides financing — like Cisco or EMC— both partners of Infranet Technologies. “They might offer additional incentives beyond a good interest rate to close the sale,” he comments.

What is his advice to resellers? “If you’re not aligned with one or two partners for lending, then you should be,” says Livesay.

Vik Mehta, CEO of Vast Edge, a provider of IT and online marketing solutions, suggests another approach that could appeal to your customers. He says bundling products and services together and charging a monthly fee reduces upfront expenses and removes the “unknown factor” from project costs with a predictable, regular monthly bill. It also gives the customer one point of contact for service and support. “Most customers are willing to agree to this. They want one throat to choke,” he says.

Mehta says solutions providers taking this approach might have an edge in dealing with larger companies, which are more likely to let a reseller own the hardware. He points out, though, it’s still important to get the ear of the right person. “Middle management has a passion to own, but not C-level. They look at the lower TCO (total cost of ownership).

Mehta says offering a total solution and managed services requires a higher level of expertise than some VARs have at first, so he suggests slowly transitioning to managed services. 

He also suggests strategic partnerships, but to “level the playing field” and not only work with one vendor. He says when forming partnerships to always do what’s in your customers’ best interest and to make your own decisions: “Win the trust of the customer and a long relationship with them.”

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