Survey: True value makes for better sales

State and local government IT executives said that price, service and response time are their most important criteria when making IT purchasing decisions, according to a recent survey.

Results of the survey, conducted by IT infrastructure provider Citrix Systems Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., showed that 124 state and local IT officials ranked personal relationships with sales representatives as only moderately important in contracting, refuting a common belief that personal relationships with a sales representative are crucial to winning new business.

Yet 38 percent of respondents characterized their IT providers as trusted partners, rather than simply product providers, the survey said.

Forty-six percent of the officials surveyed named resellers and value-added resellers as their primary source for IT purchases. Existing contractors finished second with 23 percent of the vote, then manufacturers (16 percent) and technology-specific providers (15 percent).

Offering a wide range of technology products and services rated high on government officials' priority list, with 48 percent of respondents preferring to work with large resellers that offer a broad range of options. Market depth was considered important as well, with 38 percent of respondents noting that they prefer resellers with a specific focus in state and local governments.

State and local government officials also expressed a preference for specific vendor brands, especially for software products. Seventy-four percent of survey respondents said that their reseller's relationships with independent software vendors was either very or somewhat important.

In comparing decision factors, 61 percent of respondents ranked previous experiences with a reseller as most important. Breadth of products and variety of contracting vehicles also were deemed important factors by respondents.

When asked to rank their current IT providers, 80 percent of state and local government officials polled gave their providers an "A" or "B" for product selection. Seventy-eight percent gave their providers an "A" or "B" for service and responsiveness.

Seventy-five percent of officials surveyed graded their providers with and "A" or "B" for knowledge of the government's needs. Sixty-seven percent of those polled gave their IT providers high marks for procurement support provided, while just 54 percent gave high grades to the training offered by IT providers.

The online survey of 124 state and local government IT buyers was conducted in April, and has a margin of error of 6.75 percent with a 90 percent accuracy rate, Citrix said. Citrix has more than 9, 600 employees and had annual sales of $908.7 million in fiscal 2005, according to Hoover's Online of Austin, Texas.

The survey results point to the state and local market's need for best-value, performance-tested solutions, said Bert Wakeley, director of state and local government for Citrix, which supplies infrastructure access solutions.

"Buyers will not tolerate distractions," Wakeley said. "They are looking for reliable, easy-to-procure tools, enabling them to say focused on their mission of supporting the business of state and local government."

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