The deregulation of the European telecomms market will increase customer choice, but corporate customers need to become smarter negotiators to get the best deal.
At the Gartner Group's telecomms deregulation conference in London yesterday, analysts offered European business leaders crucial tips on how to negotiate the best terms and conditions.
According to David Neil, a Gartner vice president, customers should not sign non-disclosure agreements because it will prevent them from revealing their tariffs to independent benchmarking companies if they want to compare prices in the future.
Companies also need also insist that they should get similar or more favourable rates than other organisations with comparable contracts. They should also be aware of the rates their suppliers may have to pay other operators to carry international calls - the cost could end up on the customer?s bills.
Independent benchmarking of contracts is also important to ensure customers are continuously getting good deals. This should be done when changes in tariffs or other terms are introduced in the industry.
Said Neil: ?If you are paying more than your peers the carrier should reimburse you the difference, refund you for the time it has overcharged you - and pay for the benchmark.?
Firms should also insist on contract reviews if more than 25 per cent of the vendor?s stock is acquired by another, advised Gartner.
Companies will win up to 30 per cent discount automatically by going through formal procurement bids but they could get more by honing their negotiating skills. However, negotiators should be sensible, said Neil. ?Don?t try to squeeze them for every penny you can get. You want to ensure you?ve been charged a fair rate so they?re making reasonable return on investment," he said.
Other tips include timing acquisitions towards the end of the month, quarter or year; and to include service level agreements with consequences for non-compliance. ?Some companies have paid bonuses to vendors who have exceeded their SLAs,? noted Neil.
Martyn Hart, chairman of the Telecommunications Managers Association agreed with the points but stressed that organisations must remember to include business users in the loop to ensure their needs are considered.
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