The Buyer’s Journey

We all love a good story arc right? The Quest, The Hunt, The Search…The Journey. What’s more fun than vetting and obtaining new technology providers!?

Oh, you thought this post was about something more mythical… Sorry for taking this write up from something as exciting as magical endeavors to something as comparatively mundane as IT and Communications, but…bear with me, you’ll get this.

For many businesses the journey of obtaining new or upgraded Managed Technology Services is as intimidating as a quest from The Shire to Mordor (yeah yeah…nerd alert!).

Consider this: The normal buyer’s journey…loosely played out in a typical three-act narrative…

Girl covering face

“Of course, I left my dragon at home…”

The protagonists are the CEO and COO of a 50 employee Financial Services Firm.

The Backstory…

The larger firm just acquired another 30-employee firm. Neither company manages their own IT, currently, as both use small outsourced providers that operate primarily on a break/fix basis. Their services are good, but neither IT provider is able to handle the standards of the newly merged organization or can scale with the big plan for continued growth through acquisition over the next few years.

  • The CEO decides to task the COO with obtaining bids for a new Managed IT provider…

The Quest Begins…

  • The COO does a Google search for “IT Services, Tampa”.
  • He creates his list from the first 10 companies that show up.
  • A laborious process takes place where each company is engaged and asked for a “quote”.
  • Via phone and in person, over a couple of months, back and forth conversations take place with each provider. Each provider undertakes their own qualification process and then details their value and experience through their respective sales approaches.
  • At the end of the process 7 quotes are presented to the CEO with early recommendations by the COO.
  • Ultimately the CEO simply picks a provider in the bottom 20 to 40 % of the pricing scale…if not lower.

So the Solution is found… or is it?

The Twist!

  • The bill is higher than expected due to a larger amount of hourly service charges than predicted.
  • The quality of service is lower than expected because the provider also functions with a break/fix approach (despite expectations) because of the lower base monthly rates.
  • Other elements of the technology environment were not addressed, leading to additional headaches from poor coordination between those services and IT (examples are Security, Phone and Internet).

Sounds like a sequel is planned 

  • The journey is completed, but the protagonists failed, so the plot is set up for the sequel.
  • At the end of the 1 year contract, a new journey will begin as the COO will be tasked with finding a new provider…again.

The overarching issue, the lesson from this story, is the fact the firm suffered by not knowing how to undertake the buyer’s journey in the first place. As in any good narrative, the protagonist needs a mentor, a resource that knows the path. In this story, the firm didn’t have one, and their journey was unsuccessful.

The final point is this: Each solution provider has their fit, meaning all providers are not the same. The buyer should not approach the process as if they are buying a commodity service. Billing Models, Account Management, Security Capabilities, Disaster Recovery, Vendor Coordination and Cloud Strategies are just a few highly important areas where each IT Solution provider has their own comparative preferences. When seeking new Technology Solutions, businesses need an advocate, a resource to objectively guide them through the Buyer’s Journey. They don’t have to do it alone.

Ultimately, having a ring that turns you invisible won’t assure you a better IT experience, but it might help you sneak out of work early! Of course, if I knew where that was, we’d be on a whole other quest, wouldn’t we!