4 Questions You Should Ask Any IT “Expert” Before Letting Them Touch Your Network

As businesses have become ever more dependent on technology, IT services providers have been popping up left and right. They’ve all got different strengths, capabilities and price points to consider. Some charge you by the hour and, while available to address any concerns you may have, they are pretty hands-off. Others are working on your network around the clock but charge more in turn. Many may boast an impressive record when working with a broad range of companies, but lack the experience necessary to understand the ins and outs of your specific industry. Some cost way too much month-to-month, while others try the “bargain bin” approach, but as a result, can’t afford to field the staff needed to respond to issues in a timely fashion.

There’s certainly a lot to consider when looking for an IT services provider for your business. And if you’re not particularly knowledgeable about information technology yourself, it can sometimes feel like you’re going into the process blind.

To flesh out whether an IT company will mesh with your business’s workflow and industry-specific requirements, it’s important to vet them thoroughly. The key is to ask the right questions. Here are four that will allow you to zero in on any IT company’s priorities and strengths, and help you determine whether they’re a good fit for your organization.

1. Do you take a proactive or ‘break-fix’ approach to IT?

When your car breaks down, you take it to the shop and you get it fixed. The mechanic charges you for the work done and for the parts, and then sends you on your way. Many business owners consider their computer network to be the same kind of deal. Why not just wait until an outage happens and then call up somebody who charges by the hour to fix it? That way, they imagine, they won’t be paying for “extra” services they think they
don’t need.

But unfortunately, unlike your car, when your network is out, you’re losing dollars every single minute. The cost of a network outage is difficult to overstate – not only will it bring your business to its knees while it’s out, but it’ll frustrate customers and employees and result in a cascading set of problems.

Instead of a “break-fix” technician on hand, you need a managed IT services provider. These experts work directly with your company to optimize your network and its security at every turn, and are available nearly any time to address your concerns. And they’re genuinely invested in providing the best service possible, since it’s in their best interest as well.

2. What is your guaranteed response time?

We’ve all needed something fixed before and had to wait for hours, days or even weeks before anyone bothered to come by and solve the problem. Don’t let that happen to your business. If a company can’t guarantee a response time, it’s probably not a company you want to be working with.

3. What will cost me extra?

This question is particularly important if you’re looking at a managed services provider (which you should be). The last thing you need is for a crisis to strike, only to discover you need to shell out a bunch of surcharges to get your network back up and running. Make sure the costs and services included are crystal clear before you sign anything.

4. How much experience do you have?

As scrappy as the “new kid on the block” may be, you don’t want them in charge of one of the most important aspects of your business. Make sure any IT professionals you do business with have extensive experience not only in IT, but in your particular industry as well. That way they’ll know exactly what to do to optimize processes and keep your data under lock and key.

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  • The three most common ways IT companies charge for their services and the pros and cons of each approach.
  • A common billing model that puts ALL THE RISK on you, the customer, when buying IT services; you’ll learn what it is and why you need to avoid agreeing to it.
  • Exclusions, hidden fees and other “gotcha” clauses IT companies put in their contracts that you DON’T want to agree to.
  • How to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting to avoid disappointment, frustration and added costs later on that you didn’t anticipate.

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Shiny New Gadget Of The Month:
Is This The Best Bag For Frequent Flyers?

If you’re constantly travelling around the country for business, you need a piece of luggage that’s essentially indestructible, and hopefully one that you can carry on any flight you need, saving on costs and precious minutes wasted at the luggage turnstile. Luckily, with the Victorinox Lexicon Hardside Frequent Flyer 8-Wheel bag, you may have a contender that checks all your boxes. With a sleek, ergonomic, compact design, it offers plenty of volume without being bulky, along with a slick eight-wheel design that makes scooting around the ticket lines easier than ever. And for those of us living in the 21st century, there’s a dedicated pocket for a battery pack, enabling you to attach a USB charging cord directly to your bag for when you need a little extra juice.

The Power Of Connection

Relationships are powerful. They help you differentiate your product or service, create brand loyalty, and set you apart from your competitors who are not willing to invest in building relationships.

Any savvy company will encourage its employees to build better relationships with customers. I myself teach the basics of relationship building in business, and have written about the process in my books, particularly The Fred Factor.

But you don’t always have time to build a lasting relationship. Sometimes dealing with customers or clients only takes a few minutes and you have little to no contact with them later on. You don’t have the time to build a “relationship,” nor should you try.

But neither should you interact passively.

There is something between a transaction and a relationship that will benefit both the customer and your business. The goal is to create a connection, which I define as a moment of shared affinity.

At a hotel in Miami, a bellhop who came to pick up a dry-cleaning order noticed I was wearing a Harley-Davidson T-shirt. “Do you ride?” he asked. That started a brief conversation about our shared interest in motorcycles. I saw him several times throughout my stay and felt a connection based on that brief exchange. We weren’t friends by any definition, but the connection was still a positive part of my stay.

Transactions can be straightforward, but they often feel sterile. Looking for shared interests, indulging in appropriate humor, or simply noticing and commenting on another person is all it takes to add texture to the interaction and turn it into a genuine connection.

But how do you make these connections stronger?

  1. Pay attention. Notice more about the person with whom you’re interacting.
  2. Look for similarities and points of contact.
  3. Comment on what you find interesting.
  4. Compliment on what you find praiseworthy.

Connecting in this way makes you more human and makes your business less sterile. Connecting with another person, even briefly, is always superior to simply completing a transaction.

Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, is the president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an “idea studio” that seeks to motivate and develop leaders in and outside of business. He’s the best-selling author of the books Fred Factor and The Potential Principle and a noted expert on leadership, team building, customer service and company change. He holds the Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association and is a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame. Check out any of his excellent books; his video series, “Team Building: How to Motivate and Manage People”; or his website, marksanborn.com, to learn more.

Leia Shilobod with Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary

“Mr. Wonderful Can Tell If Your Business Is Successful In 2 Minutes or Less”

When I met Kevin O’Leary, founder of O’Leary Funds and meanest Shark on Shark Tank, I expected the same kind of treatment. I mean, they don’t call him Mr. Wonderful because he’s a nice guy.

To my complete surprise, Mr. Wonderful was actually one of the most wonderful entrepreneurs I’ve heard speak because of the treasure trove of knowledge he laid out in the short time he spoke. However, he was still rather imposing so I refer to him as Mr. O’Leary, not ‘Kevin.’

During his talk he stated how he could tell if a candidate business up for an investment opportunity with the Sharks was going to be successful on Shark Tank. Listen up, people, because if this seasoned entrepreneur can tell in about 2 minutes if a business is going to be profitable from these 3 things, you should be giving these 3 things a health check in your OWN company:

  1. They were able to explain the value of the business and the opportunity in 90 seconds or less. Can YOU tell me the value proposition of doing business with your company in 90 seconds or less? Is it powerful and compelling?
  2. They had the right team to execute. They were able to demonstrate that they had the right leaders in the right seats in their company with the experience, knowledge, and know-how to drive the company to success. How is your leadership team functioning?
  3. They knew their numbers inside and out. They could rattle off who their competitors were, the break-even analysis, and profit margins. Can you?

To learn Mr. O’Leary’s 10 Secrets To Being A Successful Leader, read the rest of the article here: www.intechit.net/KevinOLeary

To your continued success,