Last Month, I posted an abridged version of this guide in the comments of Brad Reese's post on asset recovery. After reading Dave Barry's blog post describing a client who traded in 10 Cisco cards to the tune of $300,000 (hat tip to Cisconet), I thought this topic might deserve some more play.
If you do have excess used Cisco routers and switches collecting dust (or any other IT hardware), selling them allows you to gain back a portion of your investment to apply to additional hardware.
Here is my guide to maximize your return:
1. Properly ID Hardware
I know that most IT managers are busy, but if you have a staff resource who you can designate to properly identifying your hardware, it can reap offers of 50-1000% more for your gear. This is especially true with modular switches where the difference between two generations of supervisor engines can mean hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars more in value. If you have a very large and/or valuable package, a vendor might come out and do this for you.
2. Provide a Printout
If you can provide a printout of the hardware display ("show version", "show hardware", etc...) and illustrate that your equipment is in good working condition, it helps the buyer feel comfortable offering more. I would guess that by giving this "warm fuzzy" to your buyer, you might increase your valuation by 10%. If the printout shows a card you didn't realize existed, then the value can go up exponentially.
3. Get a Couple of Bids
I hate to say this, but you would be surprised what a difference in offers that you can get from two different companies. This happens because some companies may have a surplus of the equipment your offering whereas the other doesn't. You'll make your buyers angry if you shop them against 5-10 different companies, but you can't blame somebody for just getting a couple of bids.
Our firm, Vibrant Technologies, and others such as NHR and Alliance Datacom are known as very aggressive buyers of used Cisco that will offer top-dollar for your equipment. BradReese.com lists dozens of companies interested in network hardware asset recovery.
4. Make it Nice
There is no quicker way to kill the value of your assets than to have them crushed in transit. Make sure to properly pack equipment (if the buyer isn't taking care of this for you). If you send a bunch of routers in a paper-thin box with no peanuts or foam and the items get crushed, then the buyer isn't going to take your equipment. Even if they can salvage some of it, they'll have to offer less. If the equipment somehow does make it, the buyer might be reluctant to offer more the next time due to fear of damage.
I encourage sellers to insure all shipments, but also to keep in mind that it is very difficult to recover a claim from a freight company (even mainstream companies like FedEx and UPS).
Cisco Product Trade-in and Recycling programs
Like most manufacturers, Cisco has trade-in and recycling programs. Contact your Cisco VAR or representative to ask about rebates on Cisco trade-ins. If you can't get value for your gear through Cisco or on the open market, Cisco will also help you scrap the hardware via their recycling program.
Sell IT on eBay (or don't!)
If you're willing to brave eBay with your high-end Cisco assets, I've previously written a guide to maximizing your value there, Selling IT Hardware on eBay. I highly recommend seeking out an asset recovery firm instead though for a couple of reasons. First, buyers on eBay are losing trust due to a proliferation of counterfeiters trading there. Reduction in trust equals a reduction in values. Also, you're never sure who you will end up selling to and whether they'll pay you or not. Finally, working with a reseller is typically a lot more convenient.
If you want to confirm that you're working with a quality reseller / asset recovery company, check out the 5 steps cited in my Used Cisco Buyer's Guide.
Donating IT Hardware
If you measure return in karma points instead of dollar signs, this is the route for you. There are many charities, schools and organizations that could put your network equipment to good use. Check out: Donating IT Hardware, Where to Share.
I hope this guide proves useful to sellers of used Cisco Routers, Switches and other enterprise IT hardware. As always, I welcome further tips in comments.