How to Select a Value-Added Reseller or VAR to Assist With IT Purchasing


In a previous blog post, we discussed how a good Value Added Reseller or VAR can add value to your business. A VAR can provide services that make the products they resell to you work better. They might also offer technical support, integration of your applications with other solutions and products so that all your technology works together more efficiently. VARS can even simplify the acquisition and billing process around your technology investment.

This week, we’ll look at some of the questions you need to ask as you select a VAR to assist you with your technology needs.

Know The Problem You Want to Solve

An important part of selecting a VAR is understanding the business problem you’re really trying to solve. This means making a distinction between problems that may be immediate, and ones that may be more long term – between symptoms that may be plaguing your business, and the underlying causes.

Perhaps your old computers won’t run a new software application, or perhaps one of your computers broke down and needs to be replaced. Both of these examples require taking a more holistic view of your IT needs since these may be symptoms of a bigger issue. A good VAR can assist with this, helping you to understand not just the immediate problem but also the issues that may have caused or have been contributing to it. They can then help you develop an appropriate solution.

Eight Questions to Ask Your VAR

Choosing a Value Added Reseller is like choosing a partner for any other business relationship; you want to make sure they meet your needs, and that they are a reliable resource that is interested in maintaining a long term business relationship. Your VAR’s top priority should be your needs and providing the best solution to meet them.

Some good questions to ask as you are selecting a VAR include:

  1. What is the VAR’s experience with the vendors and technology being considered?
  2. What is the VAR’s core competency or area of expertise?
  3. What methodology would you use for the project we are considering?
  4. What kind of support does the VAR offer – is there a help line or online support?
  5. What if I need support outside regular business hours?
  6. How large is your organization? How many employees vs. contractors?
  7. What is the experience level of your team?
  8. Do you have experience in my industry?

Do Your Due Diligence

Due diligence is critically important when selecting a VAR. Make sure you understand the solutions being offered; if services will be a component, ask for a definition of the services to be sure you and the VAR are on the same page. And be sure to check references – most competent VARs will be happy to provide a list of clients that you can call to follow up.  You can also check online reviews, ask around in your local or business community, perform a background check or check with the Better Business Bureau.

Know Your VAR

People outside the IT industry might not realize the differences between VARs. The truth is, no two VAR’s are alike: they each have different core competencies and different business models, and this means that each one could have a different approach to the same business problem.

Why are they so different? IT is a big industry, with many areas of focus such as networking, security, software, consulting, or storage, to name just a few. Usually, a VAR comes from a particular background and this often lends perspective to the solutions they will offer.

VARs: Choose for the Long Term

Unlike a simple purchasing transaction, working with a VAR is a long term relationship; the VAR you choose could continue servicing your equipment for years after your initial purchase. That’s why it is important to do your homework before making a formal engagement with a VAR. Finding a company that has the expertise you need, and that will serve your business’ best interest, is the key to building a successful relationship.

For more information on how to select a technology partner to assist with your IT needs, please see our blog on How to Choose an IT Managed Service Provider.