I get asked – a lot – to give a price quote over the phone. After a conversation with a business owner or IT director about their business goals and current situation, the inevitable question comes: “Can you give me a quote for what that's gonna cost me?”
“Just a ballpark figure.”
“Can you give me a range.”
And, of course, “I won't hold you to it.”
Ah, but you will. Everyone does, it's human nature.
I appreciate the desire to understand how much you might spend on your network monitoring, backup, and other IT managed services needs if you do decide to outsource (to us or someone else).
But there is no way I can give a number over the phone based on a 10 minute (or 30 minute) conversation that's going to be accurate.
In the back of my mind, I do have an idea for a – yes – ballpark number of what service you need and what it'll cost. I'm probably even right more than half the time.
I still won't give you an estimate over the phone.
I Have NO IDEA What You Really Need!
Thirty minutes isn't close to enough time to really establish your:
regulatory/compliance requirements, or
For instance, if we had a conversation about Office 365, I'd have a hard time giving you a price:
Do you need it hosted in the cloud? Or onsite?
If onsite, do you have the infrastructure to support it?
From a business continuity perspective, how essential is email to your operations? Can you tolerate an outage for an hour? A day? A minute?
Do you have staff in-house that can support O365?
All of these questions and more affect the cost of the services.
My job and goal is to get you the right solution. That takes thought and a bit of time asking you questions. I've also been in the discovery phase with potential customers and uncovered additional requirements (backup can't be in the cloud, a new regulation needs to be addressed, etc.) late in the process that sometimes doubled the price.
Another reason I don't give quotes over the phone: they set expectations. Once someone hears a number, that's their benchmark and will affect their decision-making. You roll that number around in your head until you think you can either live with it or that it's too much (or even less than you thought).
Then, when I provide a real quote based on a businesses current situation and goals needs and the real number is more than the off-the-cuff quote (even though you've said, “I won't hold you to it”) sticker shock can set in.
Managed IT services are extremely cost-effective and we are competitively priced. However, it's not free or “cheap.” And why would you want to run your business on cheap technology and service? (But that's a blog post for another day).
I used to give quotes. It led to more aggravation for me AND my customers. I don't do it now and I'm happier and my customers are happier (in the long run) too.
Beware of the Quick Quote
While you'll find many salespeople willing to give you a quote over the phone, I'd caution you to take those quotes with a grain (or entire bag) of salt. No one can know what you need until they sit down with you. If someone gives you a quote over the phone, you might get lucky and it's exactly what you need. Odds are, that's not going to be the case and you're going to either get too much or too little and your IT infrastructure will suffer. As will your business.