As technology experts providing strategic IT advice to executives in industries as wide-ranging as agribusiness and financial services, we know it is difficult to decide when and how to upgrade your technology systems. The more knowledge and tools you have at your disposal, the easier the decision can be. I’d like to share some insights about how you can leverage vendor funding programs to make the decision significantly more straightforward.
How to navigate IT company funding programs
Many technology vendors, such as Microsoft and Cisco (to name a few), are often seen as large, monolithic corporations that are so difficult to navigate that most customers don’t know where or how to start a productive conversation about funding support. Let alone successfully navigate ever-changing program guidelines. In fact, it’s almost impossible for most customers to get visibility into the many available funding programs. In other words, customers are leaving money on the table.
These large, national and multinational technology companies rely on partners like ZAG to extend their salesforce, allowing customers to work in tandem with a partner they know and trust. A partner who can ensure you receive not only the best deal possible, but also have access to funding programs that can offset a range of CAPEX, training, and project scoping expenses.
Understanding the “channel”
Companies like Microsoft, Cisco, Arctic Wolf, Datto, and SolarWinds cannot facilitate every customer deal, but they also understand that every deal is important. No matter the size.
The way these vendors conduct business is through what is known as the “channel.” The channel is a way for vendors to extend their salesforce and rely on partners like ZAG, who have the expertise, skills, and knowledge to facilitate deals.
Most technology vendors that operate through the channel do not allow end customers to purchase direct, which is why it is critically important to trust your managed service provider (MSP) partner. There is a vital element of trust here, knowing that your MSP has your best interests in mind. (Not all MSPs do, but that’s for another day.)
Choosing the right programs and incentives
Many technology vendors have funding programs available to assist with the decision to purchase. These programs vary by vendor. Several we leveraged in the recent past include funding to deliver cloud migrations, strategy planning sessions, education and training days, and even additional hardware purchase discounts.
These programs are not always easily searchable via Google or the vendor’s website and often change. Since they are also usually quite complicated and hard to find, the best way to navigate the specific details is to work with a partner who has the expertise and relationships with each vendor to understand which programs you can leverage to save time and money.
How to get vendor funding
Now that we know there is funding available, how do you leverage the incentive programs? We have assisted many of our customers in successfully obtain funding support for new technology investments. Sometimes it’s a few thousand dollars for training. Other times it is tens of thousands of dollars for complex infrastructure deployments. What is consistent is that most businesses don’t know that these programs exist, and their managed services provider doesn’t have the preferred status with the vendor to get access to the incentives.
As we navigate funding programs on behalf of our clients, we maintain frequent and open communication with our vendor partner’s account managers. By developing these relationships with our key contacts, we get access to limited access programs, are looped in early on new opportunities, and gather all the relevant information about the programs that make the most sense for your business.
Many people think the tier of partner status matters most. Although ZAG has premier certifications with various vendors, we know it has more to do with the relationship we have with each vendor. We take pride in the vendor relationships we have and continuously look for ways to build go-to-market strategies that benefit our clients.
The short answer to “how to get vendor funding” is to work with a trusted technology partner. When choosing your managed services provider, I strongly recommend that you learn about the relationships they have with the technology vendors. It could save you many thousands of dollars.
Does your MSP add value beyond technology?
In the post-COVID era, it is more important than ever to trust your business partner. You need to be sure that your partner is working the best possible deal for you, not them. We take pride in our mission of enabling your success, and our deep relationships with companies like Microsoft and Cisco are one way we add value beyond technology.
When your systems are ready for an upgrade, be sure to ask your technology provider about their vendor partnerships. Be sure to ask about vendor funding to reduce costs, save time, and improve your team’s knowledge and skills. Keep these things in mind when selecting a partner to do business with, and we are here to help.