There are plenty of competitive providers, particularly when it comes to local services. Investigate all the possibilities - and let them know they need to meet your needs to win your business. And as for the folks who won't? Share with them the immortal words of Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, "If that's your best, your best won't do."Sometimes the best advice comes from unlikely places. California governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger used as a campaign theme the song "We're Not Gonna Take It" from the '80s rock group Twisted Sister.Embarrassing confession time: As a former Twisted Sister fan, I've been known to belt out the song in private moments. But for those of you who don't remember (or have better musical taste), the song includes the lyrics, "We've got the right to choose and there ain't no way we'll lose it . . . . We ain't gonna take it anymore."The lines evidently worked for Arnold. They're also tailor-made for network executives looking for choice from their telco providers.Unfortunately, getting the telcos to offer choices can be challenging, as a reader recently pointed out in a response to\u00a0a column about disaster recovery: "The suggestions that you give in your column are great, but useless unless you answer the following question: How do you get the carriers to share their plans for circuit routing and disaster recovery?"The question begs a broader one: How do you get the telcos to do anything? From a telecom manager's perspective, it often feels as though the options are to accept what's offered or do without.Here are some steps to take when negotiating with telecom providers to maximize your choice:First, remember that you have greatest leverage at the time when you're renewing your contract. So bring up issues - such as your requirement for seeing circuit routes and disaster-recovery plans - at that point. Make clear that your business depends on their willingness to deliver. Also, ask your own users for other issues that matter to them. Then be prepared to put them all on the table when negotiating.Second, your biggest negotiating weapon is a willingness to walk away from an existing provider if it doesn't comply. I've often worked with IT executives who aren't willing to leave. Many times this is because of "directions from above": Their CIOs or CEOs play golf with senior telco executives or view the telecom relationship as a strategic partnership.Advise your bosses that if they want you to bring the best deal to the table, what you need from them is 100% support for potentially changing carriers. If they aren't willing to back you, the negotiations will be far less effective.Finally, once you've lined up your bosses' support and collected a list of requests from your users, do your homework. There are plenty of competitive providers, particularly when it comes to local services. Investigate all the possibilities - and let them know they need to meet your needs to win your business.And as for the folks who won't? Share with them the immortal words of Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, "If that's your best, your best won't do."