One of the things that have always troubled me as a Federal Salesman is the modest effort that sometimes goes into researching equipment and in planning procurement. I’m not just talking about a couple office paper shredders here. I’m talking about equipment that sometimes cost several hundred thousand dollars. If you have a project in the immediate future, take a minute to consider the following.
You have every right to talk with several vendors about products. Explain your application and ask for a recommendation. Once you have it, ask around. Where can you see one? A video is good, but are any located nearby? All equipment looks good in a catalog, but many times its flaws are obvious by just a couple minutes of inspection. You don’t have to be an expert to notice sloppy paint work, cheap particle board, flimsy hinges, excessive dust, and poor quality plastic moldings; especially on equipment that has been in use for a while. Sometimes just the sound gives it away. If your organization is already using this product, what is the track record? Ask some of your colleagues. Does the vendor have local service? What is the warranty? Are Extended Warranties available? Do they offer Preventive Maintenance Contracts? How about special delivery services or on-site start-up assistance once the equipment is delivered? On what contracts is this equipment available? How professional was the response when you made your initial inquiry? Did anyone offer to visit, discuss the product, and see how it will fit into your facility?
Once you have done your homework, the buy decision is usually pretty obvious. Then the question becomes how do I get the equipment best suited for my need? Consider your own contracting organization. Have you dealt with them in the past? Were they helpful in preparing your purchase request? Do you know someone else that has managed a larger project through the process with success? Will they help with contacts or advice? Have you consulted with your Sales Rep. for suggestions? SEM Reps are Federal specialists with an average of over fifteen years of experience each.
Here is something we know with certainty. Budgets will get tighter in the future. If you make a mistake on product selection, it will be harder to correct it in the future. I know it sounds funny for a Sales Manager to advocate shopping around, but consider this…… would I do it if I wasn’t confident in the equipment and services we offer?