Expert Interview – Q&A with Florent Squaratti

We sat down with Florent Squaratti from Aix-en-Provence, a Senior Sales Executive here at Ynvolve, to talk about 2021, work-life and how he applies his unique expertise to making Ynvolve customers happy.

What is your role at Ynvolve?

My title is Senior Sales Exec but I am more in the Technical Sales space.  In French, we would say I am an ‘Ingénieur Commercial’, but I am not an actual engineer.  So, I guess you could say I am a tech guy, who sells hardware, and helps end-user customers with their technical challenges, especially around server configuration and support.

How would you describe Ynvolve’s business and what is it best known for?

We sell refurbished IT hardware to clients.  We buy, clean, repair, refurbish, test and stock multi-vendor enterprise and data center hardware, and then use these stocks to tailor hardware solutions for our customers.  That’s where our expertise comes in.  We always provide the best solution to meet the customer’s unique requirements.  Some clients need a hardware solution quickly.  Some just want the best price.  Sometimes they come with a preference.  Sometimes they are looking for a solution to a problem. Whatever their needs, we can accommodate, advise, and deliver a solution.  And we offer specialist after-sales support which is our key point of difference – and something that creates long-term customer loyalty and satisfaction.

What is your main area of expertise?

In the past two years, my specialization has been servers. I was more of a technical generalist earlier in my career, but in discussions with customers, I knew that I could learn so much from them just by listening to their needs.  So I read, and I researched, and I listened, acquiring more and more knowledge as I went along.   And for the last two years, servers have become my real strength.  There are so many possible permutations of solutions available with refurbished hardware, and for a fraction of the cost.

The last 18 months have really proven this to be true.  Lockdown meant most of our clients quite literally had to operate online overnight, with remote working solutions for all of their employees.  And they needed robust, overnight hardware solutions that would enable them to do that.  It was an extensive technical challenge I was passionate about.

What are the main misconceptions about refurbished hardware?

It really depends on the market.  But the main misconception I would say is that emerging markets equivalate ‘refurbished’ with ‘garage sale’.  What they don’t realize (yet!) is that a refurbished IT asset is like a second-hand car.  Sometimes, it’s a premium, ex-lease vehicle with 5,000km on the clock.  We’ve acquired the assets of entire IT infrastructures because the million-dollar hardware investment is suddenly considered better off in the Cloud.  So, we sell ‘refurbished’ equipment that is anywhere from six-month-old to 15 years (for example, there are some, aerospace companies that need to maintain old Oracle servers because their software has always run on those and is too costly to be updated).

Original equipment manufacturers have pre-determined end-of-life and end-of-support dates, and release a new generation of product every two to three years to encourage their customers to buy new.  The fact is that these assets probably have a ten-year lifecycle, if not more.

Why would a company NOT go the refurbished hardware route?

Some companies just don’t need to.  They have the budget for new IT assets every two to three years, and they want whatever is deemed state-of-the-art, and before everyone else.  Or, they have total brand loyalty and just want to deal with one vendor they are comfortable with and have the reassurance of support and warranties with every new upgrade because they don’t have any technical IT expertise in-house.

There’s an education curve about refurbished IT hardware and reductions in e-waste and the circular economy, which is still happening, and that will, at some point, become the status-quo in my opinion.

For companies thinking about reprioritizing their IT spending, I’d say – just go for it.  If you have a brand preference, Ynvolve can accommodate all your needs, but if you’re open to an optimal solution, then we can probably supply a better alternative AND provide a tech-agnostic, customer-centric, single point of contact that will make life easier.

Do you think that the pandemic had an effect on the IT landscape?

The IT industry itself had a boost because businesses across all sectors suddenly needed their entire workforce to work from home.  They needed extra IT infrastructure to support remote working applications, and a lot of CTOs suddenly realized that most people didn’t have company laptops to work from home. 

For us, it was about helping on the enterprise hardware side.

For CIOs, it was probably a time to reflect and reprioritize. Companies that had unlimited IT budgets before the pandemic might have used the time to take stock and reprioritize their spending. .

What is your expert advice to a customer thinking about making the switch from OEM to TPM support?

Well, first understand the real meaning of refurbished IT hardware. And then find a quality supplier like Ynvolve who provides all of the hardware expertise you need plus extensive stocks, great pricing and after-sales support.  We pride ourselves on always front-footing any problems and dealing with them – we don’t just deliver your hardware and disappear.

How do you use your specific expertise to assist Ynvolve customers?

I always spend time trying to understand the customer’s need and think about what value I can provide on top of this.  It’s all about the value add.  Do you want to save some money, or have a quicker solution, or better after-sales service, or rapid shipping?  When I talk to customers, the concept of Single Point of Contact (SPOC) goes down well.  That ability to have a quality, one-to-one, after-sales experience with a local who speaks the same language is powerful.  And we are knowledgeable decision-makers.  How often do you get that?  We are all technically astute enough that things don’t often go wrong, and we can stick to our SLAs, which is not to be under-estimated. 

What are things that Ynvolve’s clients appreciate from our customer service? 

Based on the regular feedback I receive from my customers, they mentioned that having a SPOC with technical knowledge is invaluable. Also, they really appreciate that we are very fast at providing quotations. We can normally provide one in a couple of minutes or hours. We really strive to be agile in this because we understand the urgency that our customers have when it comes to keeping their business up and running.

We have around 50,000 items in stock from various IT manufacturers, so we can not only provide customers with support regardless of the technology that they use, but also, are able to provide configured servers catered to their specific needs. This has not gone unnoticed. We received nice feedback when it came to our flexibility, expertise and listening skills.